St Isaac Cathedral

I visited St Isaac’s cathedral.

Apparently this is the fourth largest Church in Europe, in terms of volume under the dome, after St Peter’s in Rome, St Paul’s in London and the Duomo in Florence.

It is also a subject of controversy at the moment, because it has been managed as a museum (I think by the government of St Petersburg), since the revolution, but this month they have decided to hand it to the Russian Orthodox Church at no cost.

This is not quite as simple as it sounds. After the fall of communism, St Isaac’s has still been a museum, and Church services are only conducted in one of the side chapels. You have to pay about $5 to visit it, but the Orthodox Church says it will not charge anything, even though part of it will still be treated as a museum. Some people fear it will no longer be maintained well.

Anyway, the view from the dome is extensive,

The paintings and mosaics are spectacular and beautiful

And the technical details of how they made it are interesting

In the news

Melbourne is on TV here because of the tennis in Melbourne. 

Sadly, Melbourne was the fourth item on the breakfast TV news this morning because of the MSN running amok in a car in Bourke St. It followed items on the inauguration in Washington, the avalanche covering a hotel in Italy and the building collapse in Teheran.

On the way home

After the match, the crowds were not to bad, although the Metro was crowded. Hockey is a family sport here, many parents with children, who could have the home team’s logo painted on their faces.

So, after the match I left via the concourse around the stadium

Bade farewell to the Ice Palace

And returned via the metro

The sad thing was that on the way I ran into a couple of people looking for food or money. You don’t see many people begging or homeless people, but there are some. I have noticed that people sometimes give money in these situations, but it would be very hard to be homeless here, sometimes -20 degrees or more at night, and 16 hours of darkness at this time of year.


Last night I went to my first live ice hockey game, SKA St Petersburg v Jokerit Helsinki. Unfortunately, my team lost 3 – 5. The stadium, the Ice Palace (ледовый Дворец) was full to its capacity of 12,300 ( they also have concerts: Cher, Sting and others have performed here). It was full on flashing lights and loud music over the PA. Manly supporters would have felt at home with Eagle Rock, but there was some cultural sensitivity, with Kalinka when the home team scored a goal.

At the start, the sponsor’s ballon

Preparing the ice

The match starts

And there are cheer leaders

A mascot

And crazy home supporters

All good fun

Kazan Cathedral

I visited the Kazan Cathedral in the centre of St Petersburg. Sorry for the selfie, but I had to put one on the blog.

This cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan and construction started in 1801, so it had just been completed at the start of the First Great Patriotic War. The design was based partly on St Peter’s in Rome, which was controversial.

The leader in the war, General Kutuzov, who was born in St Petersburg, asked for help from Our Lady of Kazan. He followed a controversial scorched earth policy and allowed Napoleon into a deserted Moscow, before chasing him out of Russia and defeating the  Grande Armée.  He later died and was buried in Kazan Cathedral in 1813.

After the Revolution, the church was turned into a Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism.

When communism fell, it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1996, and the faithful returned, as I saw yesterday, when I visited on a Wednesday afternoon.


Last weekend, I saw a group of boys in military uniform having lunch. The only information my level of Russian managed to get from them was that they we wearing the old imperial military uniform.

I now know that these cadets were set up in 1731. During the revolution, many cadets and graduate cadets fought for the White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks, so most were executed or deported. They survived in emigre communities overseas. 

Some information is at this link:

Russian cadet corps
After the fall of communism, cadet corps were reformed in Russia.

The boys live in boarding accommodation (internats) and study academic subjects as well as military. To graduate as a cadet  is regarded as an achievement and prestigious.

There is no cost to the family of a boy in cadets, but there is a selective entrance exam. Of course it isolates the boy from the family, but some parents like it in cases like both parents working, or single mothers, in order to give good training to boys.

For Australians, this sounds more like boarding schools (which are expensive), rather than military cadets, which are part time.