ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday defended its controversial bid to fully take over St. Petersburg’s landmark St. Isaac’s Cathedral, saying it’s in line with the law and wouldn’t hamper tourist access.
The Orthodox Church, which has wielded increasing clout in Russia, has taken jurisdiction over many historic churches and monasteries in Moscow and other cities since the Soviet collapse. It has faced difficulties, however, reclaiming its erstwhile assets in St. Petersburg.
The 101-meter high St. Isaac’s is one of the world’s biggest cathedrals, designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand and built in 1818-1858. Many of its treasures were pilfered after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, but the cathedral itself escaped demolition unlike many other historic churches