Dormition Cathedral (1652-63, 1728-32), North View, Velikii Ustiug, Russia


This north view of the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin and the adjacent bell tower at Velikii Ustiug (Vologda 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. Located where the Sukhona and Iug rivers merge to form the Northern Dvina River, the town became a major transportation route to the north and east as early as the 12th century. Ustiug played a critical role in north Russia, not only in trade, but also in missionary activity, through such prelates as the 14th-century Saint Stefan of Perm. The town’s primary church is the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin, originally built of wood in 1290 and rebuilt several times. Parts of the present structure date from the mid-17th century; a major rebuilding in 1728-32 extended the western part. The laconic style of the church, seen in the sparse wall detailing, stands in contrast to the gilded baroque cupolas on octagonal drums that were installed in 1778, with subsequent modifications in the 19th century. The bell tower (on the left) consists of two segments dating from the late 17th century, with additions to the upper structure in the late 18th century. The north segment culminates in rising octagons capped with a golden cupola.

Last updated: January 11, 2016