Church of the Dormition (1674), West Facade, Varzuga, Russia


This southwest view of the Church of the Dormition at Varzuga (Murmansk Oblast) 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. Varzuga is located on the south shore of the Kola Peninsula, 22 kilometers from where the Varzuga River enters the White Sea. By the mid-15th century, Varzuga was a notable outpost in the White Sea territory of the medieval trading center of Novgorod. Varzuga had strong ties with the Solovetskii Monastery, one of the leading religious centers of the Russian north. Muscovy established control over Novgorod's domains in the late 15th century, and Varzuga's importance as a fishing center grew. By the late 17th century, the village had log churches on both banks of the Varzuga River. The most impressive is the Church of the Dormition, built in 1674 on the high right bank of the river. The builders made effective use of the location by creating a structure that ascends from a high cruciform log base to an octagonal structure that culminates in a soaring "tent" tower (shatër) and cupola. Modifications during the 19th century included plank siding, removed during a restoration completed in 1973. Conservation efforts continue on this great monument of the Russian north.

Last updated: January 11, 2016