Church of the Dormition (1674) (Left), and Church of St. Afanasii (1857) (Right), West Facade, Varzuga, Russia


This west view of the Church of the Dormition and the Church of Saint Afanasii in 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. The most impressive is the Church of the Dormition (on the left), built in 1674 on the right bank of the river. The structure ascends from a high cruciform log base to an octagon that leads to a soaring "tent" tower (shatër) and cupola. In 1857, a second church, dedicated to Saint Afanasii, was erected by the parish. Lower in height, it was intended for worship year-round (a so-called "winter" church). After a renovation in the late 1990s, this church was opened for worship.

Last updated: January 11, 2016