Windows of Heaven: St. Isaac’s Cathedral – 10$ .925 silver coin Cook Islands 2012
Country: Cook Islands
Face Value: 10 Dollars
Fineness (purity): 925/1000
Weight (g): 50
Diameter (mm): 50
Mintage (pcs): 2.000
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg. It was the largest church in Russia when it was built (101.5 meters high), and is still the third largest domed cathedral in the world. For visitors willing to climb 300 steps, it provides a spectacular view of St. Petersburg.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral was ordered by Tsar Alexander I to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand, who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon’s designer, Charles Percier.
Monferrand’s design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical colonnades. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Monferrand’s favour.
The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand’s direction, from 1818 to 1858. It was dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great.
Under the Soviet government, the building was abandoned, then turned into a museum of atheism. The dove sculpture was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum.
During World War II, the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft.
Today, worship activity has resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel, and in the main body of the cathedral on feast days only.
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