Saint Isaac's Cathedral - Technologies


William Handyside and other engineers used many technological innovations in the construction of the building. The massive portico columns were raised with the use of enormous wooden frameworks before the walls were erected. The enormous building rests on 10,000 tree trunks that were sunk by an army of serfs into the marshy banks upon which the cathedral is situated. The dome was gilded by a technique similar to spraypainting; the solution used included toxic mercury, the vapors of which caused the deaths of an unknown number of workers. A dozen gilded statues of angels, each six metres tall, face each other across the interior of the rotunda (see photo below). They were constructed using galvanoplastic technology, making them only millimeters thick and very lightweight. St. Isaac's Cathedral represents the first use of this technique in architecture.

The meticulous and painstakingly detailed work on constructing the St. Isaac's Cathedral took 40 years to complete. This left an expression in the Finnish language rakentaa kuin Iisakin kirkkoa (to build like St. Isaac's Church) for lengthy and never-ending megaprojects.

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