St. Isaac's Lookout To Be Open at Night
By Irina Titova
The colonnade lookout on St. Isaac's Cathedral, which offers a bird's eye view of St. Petersburg, is to open every night from 7 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. from Friday until the end of the White Nights in early July.
The administration of the cathedral, which is a federal museum, decided to offer the all-night observation sessions after test runs on City Day on May 27 and June 3. A total of 750 came on the first night, but word spread that the colonnade was open and on the second occasion 2,500 people came, said Yevgeny Korchagin, deputy head of the museum.
"The experience turned out to be extremely popular with Russian and foreign visitors and tourists," he said.
Only if there is rain or strong wind will access to the lookout be closed, Korchagin said.
Night excursions to the colonnade became possible due to recent repairs that made it safer, Korchagin said, adding that the number of security guards will be increased at night.
Entrance to the colonnade at night costs 100 rubles, with the same price for foreigners and Russians. Tickets can be bought next to the entrance to the cathedral, where visitors can start their climb to the colonnade.
About 300 steps lead to the colonnade, which is located 43 meters above ground level. The lookout provides an excellent view of the city's main sights including the Peter and Paul Fortress, the State Hermitage Museum, Smolny Cathedral, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Troitsky Cathedral, Vasilyevsky Island, and even the Gulf of Finland.
St. Isaac's Cathedral is 101.52 meters high. It is the fourth highest cathedral in the world after St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, St. Paul's Cathedral in London and Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
St. Isaac's Cathedral was once the main church of St. Petersburg and the largest church of Russia. It was built in 1818-58 by French-born architect Auguste Montferrand.
The gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. Although the cathedral is smaller than a newly rebuilt Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, its facades and interiors are far more inspirational.
The church, designed to accommodate 14,000 standing worshipers, was closed in the early 1930s and reopened as a museum. Nowadays, church services are held there only on major occasions.