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Kazan Cathedral Area

A block beyond the Moyka, on the south side of Nevsky prospekt, the great colon-naded arms of the Kazan Cathedral (Kazan-sky sobor, 1801-11) reach out towards the avenue. Its design, by Andrey Voronikhin, a former serf, was influenced by St Peter's in Rome. His original plan was to build a second, mirror version of the cathedral opposite it on the northern side of Nevsky. The square in front of it has been a site for political demonstrations since before the revolution.

The cathedral now houses the Museum of the History of Religion. Its Soviet-era suffix 'and Atheism' has long since been removed. The vastly impressive cathedral itself is free to enter. In the north transept is the grave of Field Marshal Kutuzov, the Russian commander against Napoleon in 1812.

In 1800 Emperor Paul I issued an order for a cathedral to be built after the model of St.Peter's Cathedral in Rome. The design was entrusted to A.Voronikhin, who had formerly been Count Stroganov's serf later to become the professor of architecture in the Academy of Arts.

The foundation was laid a year later; it took ten years to build the cathedral. It was planned in the shape of the Latin Cross. Voronikhin had a difficult task to solve. The matter was that in keeping with the church canons the altar was to face eastwards, hence the main entrance and the facade faced westwards. Thus Nevsky Prospekt was to front the side fasade of the cathedral, and not the main one. Voronikhin solved the problem supplying the cathedral with a grand semicircular colonnade opening on the prospekt, that added to its beauty. Moreover, the cathedral as well as the colonnade were elevated on to a granite socle with wide staircases.

The wings of the colonnade that form a square in front of the cathedral have monumental portals at the ends, simultaneously serving as passageways. Voronikhin intended to erect a similar colonnade facing south; however, the Patriotic War of 1812 that just broke out and interfered with his plans.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan is one of the top achievements of high classical architecture and a brilliant example of the arts synthesis. Best sculptors and artists decorated it: V.Borovikovsky, V.Shebuyev, O.Kiprensky, A.Yegorov, A.Ivanov and others. They painted the iconostasis and other parts of the cathedral.

The monumental cast-iron railing of exquisite design embraces a small square in front of the main, western entrance to the cathedral. It was laid out to the design of Voronikhin, and is a good addition to the cathedral ensemble. The public garden set up there in 1935Ч36 is decorated with a granite fountain (1809, architect Thomas de Thomon), transferred here from the Tsarskoselskaya road in 1934.

The importance of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan as a memorial to the heroes of the Patriotic War is emphasized by the monuments to Field-Marshals M.Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolli put up in front of it in 1837.

  • 2, Kazan Square (Kazanskaya Ploschsd') or 25, Nevsky Avenue.
  • Metro - Nevsky Prospekt. 
  • Open Monday through Friday, from 11.00 am to 05.00 pm. 




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