Curving Kazan Cathedral (daily 8.30am–6pm Nevsky Prospekt), built between 1801 and 1811, was modelled on St Peter’s in the Vatican and is unique in die-straight St Petersburg. The cathedral was built to house a venerated icon, Our Lady of Kazan, reputed to have appeared miraculously overnight in Kazan in 1579, and later transferred to St Petersburg, where it resided until its disappearance in 1904. In Soviet times the cathedral housed the Museum of Atheism, dedicated to proving that “religion is the opium of the people”, but today it offers a refreshing contrast to many other St Petersburg churches, teeming with worshippers, not tourists.

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