Nikolsky Sobor; Nikolskaya pl 1/3; admission free; S 9am-7pm; (M) Sadovaya
Just south of the Mariinsky Theatre, surrounded on two sides by canals, this ice-blue cathedral is one of the most picture-perfect in the city. The baroque spires and golden domes make the Nikolsky Cathedral one of the city's best-loved churches. It was one of the few that continued to work during the Soviet era when organised religion was effectively banned.
Nicknamed the Sailor's Church (Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors), it contains many 18th-century icons and a fine carved wooden iconostasis. A graceful bell tower overlooks the Griboedov Canal, which is crossed by Staro-Nikolsky most: from this bridge, you can see at least seven bridges, more than from any other spot in the city.
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