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


This detail of the west facade of the Church of the Dormition at Varzuga (Murmansk Oblast) was taken in 2001 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 also 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 right bank of the river. This detail shows the transition from the cruciform main structure, with barrel gables, to an octagon that in turn supports the "tent" tower. Of special interest is the projection (poval) of the upper octagonal part that supports the angled roof at the base of the tower. Intended to protect the structure from rain and snow, the flair is also a remarkably beautiful design element.

Last updated: January 11, 2016