Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist (1740-51), Southeast View, Kargopol', Russia


This southeast view of the Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist in Kargopol' (Arkhangel'sk Oblast') 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. Kargopol' is one of the oldest settlements in the Russian north, founded perhaps in the 12th, or even the 11th, century. Its location near Lake Lacha and the source of the Onega River (which flows into the White Sea) enabled Kargopol' to benefit from extensive trade in salt and other products of the northern forests. The resulting wealth led to the construction of impressive churches, a number of which have survived. In the center of the town, Cathedral (or New Market) Square contains an ensemble of several churches, including the Church of John the Baptist, built of brick in 1740-51. Although devoid of decoration, its main façades are marked by rows of large windows that rise to polygonal openings at the top. The church culminates in five baroque domes on high cylinders. On the eastern façade the complex design of the apse (with three additional domes) displays a bold emphasis on volume that characterizes the entire structure. The interior, pillaged during the Soviet period, is being restored for use as a parish church.

Last updated: January 11, 2016