Church of the Savior (1706-10), Southwest View, Irkutsk, Russia


This photograph of the Church of the Miraculous Icon of the Savior (Spas Nerukotvornyi) 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. From the time of its first log forts in the 1660s, Irkutsk was destined to be the administrative and commercial center of eastern Siberia. In 1700, Irkutsk became the third Siberian city capable of producing bricks on a large scale. In 1706-10, master builder Moisei Dolgikh erected the Savior Church, the town's oldest surviving masonry structure. By virtue of its stout brick walls in an otherwise wooden city, the lower level of the two-story building was used to store valuable fur pelts until 1713, when a secondary altar, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, was created for use in the winter. This view from the southwest shows the bell tower, which was added to the west end of the refectory in 1758-62. The massive tower, which had two altars of its own, literally overshadows the rest of the church. The Savior church was closed in 1931. After a prolonged restoration, it was converted in 1982 into an exhibit space of the Irkutsk Regional History Museum. In 2006, the church was returned to parishioners as a place of worship.

Last updated: January 11, 2016