Monastery, Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior (1558-1566), Northwest View with Gallery (1602), and Church of St. Nicholas (1832-1834) Solovetskii Island, Russia


This photograph of the central ensemble of the Transfiguration-Solovetskii Monastery was taken in 1998 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located on Large Solovetskii Island, part of an archipelago in the White Sea, the monastery was founded as early as 1429 by the monk Savvatii. Following his death in 1435, the enterprise was revived by the monk Zosima in 1436. After decades of tenuous existence, the remote monastery greatly expanded in the middle of the 16th century under the direction of Hegumen Filipp, a nobleman with connections to Novgorod and Moscow. The primary architectural achievement of his tenure is the main monastery church, dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior. Begun in 1558, the brick structure of the Transfiguration Cathedral was completed in 1566. Its imposing form, culminating in five cupolas, has undergone numerous changes over the centuries, but the basic design has survived despite a devastating fire in 1923 that destroyed the interior of the central ensemble. Soon thereafter the monastery was converted into a notorious camp for political repression. The enclosed gallery connects the cathedral to the Church of St. Nicholas.

Last updated: July 28, 2017