St. Isaac’s Cathedral

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is known for its bird’s eye view of the city from the colonnade. There is no elevator, but the climb of nearly 300 steps is worth the effort. Designed by the French architect Auguste de Montferrande, the cathedral took 40 years to complete (1818-1858). As one anecdote has it, a fortune-teller told Montferrande that he would die after the cathedral was finished, so the architect made every effort to procrastinate. The truth is less dramatic. The cathedral is extremely heavy and required massive amounts of granite to stabilize it.

4 Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad

Grand Choral Synagogue

The city’s Grand Choral Synagogue is the world’s third largest, after synagogues in New York and Budapest. One of the younger religious buildings in St. Petersburg, it was designed in lavish Moorish style by Lev Bakhman—the first Jewish graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts—and consecrated in 1893. It is open to non-religious visitors every day, except Saturdays and religious holidays.

2 Lermontovsky Prospekt