Church of the Elevation of the Cross (1747-58), South View, Irkutsk, Russia


This southeast view of the Church of the Elevation of the Cross in the city of Irkutsk was taken in 1999 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Built in stages from 1747 to 1760 on the Hill of the Cross, the church originally bore the name of its first main altar, dedicated to the Trinity, with a secondary altar dedicated to the Elevation of the Cross. The elongated form combines traditional 17th-century parish church design (particularly as developed in the Russian north) with elements from Ukrainian architecture such as the baroque domes and vaulting systems. A dome, elevated on ascending octagons over the main structure, is balanced by a bell tower in the west. The middle of the church has a large refectory with secondary domes rising above altars on the north and south sides. In 1779, merchant donations supported construction of another large chapel attached to the north of the refectory. In 1860, the architect Vladislav Kudel’skii constructed a two-story narthex at the west end of the church, and in 1867 the main altar was rededicated to the Elevation of the Cross. With its picturesque domes and varied forms, the church is one of the city’s dominant landmarks, a monument of national significance.

Last updated: January 11, 2016