Church of the Ascension (1648-49, 1670s, 1742), East View, Velikii Ustiug, Russia


This east view of the Church of the Ascension in Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Of the town's many remarkable churches, the most intricately decorated is the Church of the Ascension, endowed by the merchant Nikifor Reviakin. Built in 1648-49 in a florid, 17th-century Muscovite style, it is the town’s oldest extant structure, although with additions from the 1670s and 1742. In this view, the decoration begins with the ceramic window surrounds on the tripartite apse. The main structure of whitewashed brick is covered with patterns that ascend to an elaborate cornice and three rows of decorative gables (kokoshniki). The festive display concludes with five domes over decorated cylinders, or drums. Like many Russian churches, the Church of the Ascension has chapels (pridely) attached to the main structure. The Chapel of the Resurrection (on the right) is in effect a second church and rivals the main church in decoration, which includes ceramic tiles and its own exterior stairway. In addition to the primary altar, the chapel also has an altar dedicated to Tsarevich Dmitrii, as well as altars on the lower level dedicated to the Epiphany and the Elevation of the Cross.

Last updated: January 11, 2016