Dormition Cathedral Ensemble, West View, Vilikii Ustiug, Russia


This view northeast across the Sukhona River of the cathedral ensemble at Velikii Ustiug (Vologda 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. Located where the Sukhona and Iug rivers merge to form the Northern Dvina River, the town derives its name from "mouth of the Iug," with the epithet veliki (great) added at the end of the 16th century, in recognition of the city's importance. This network of three rivers formed a strategic transportation route to the north and east that brought Russian settlers to the region as early as the middle of the 12th century. The mercantile city of Novgorod laid claim to the area until the late 15th century, when Muscovy assumed control. 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 importance of the town is immediately visible in the imposing Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and six surrounding churches that form an ensemble known as Cathedral Court and the adjacent Archbishop's Court. Together with the cathedral bell tower, they are the dominant feature on the high left bank of the Sukhona River.

Last updated: January 11, 2016