Archangel Michael Monastery, Archangel Cathedral (1653-56), Cupolas (Late 18th Century), West View, with Church of Pentecost (or St. Kiprian) (1710), in Foreground, Velikii Ustiug, Russia


This northwest view of the monastic Cathedral (sobor) of Archangel Michael 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. Settled by Russians as early as the 12th century, Velikii Ustiug rapidly became a center of trade and missionary activity. Medieval chronicles indicate that the Archangel Michael Monastery, one of the oldest in the Russian north, was founded by the venerable monk Kiprian in 1212. In 1653 its ancient, multidomed log cathedral, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, made way for a large brick structure endowed by the merchant Nikifor Reviakin. Completed in 1656, the structure is elevated on a high base (podklet) and has five domes and four interior piers. The upper walls are decorated with curved gables (zakomary) beneath the straight cornice of the roof. This rectangular form is enclosed within a gallery containing remarkable frescoes on the trials of monastic life. The northwest corner is anchored by a bell tower (visible on the far left) with a tent tower. In the shadowed foreground is the small Church of Mid-Pentecost (1710), also known as the Church of Saint Kiprian, built over the grave of the monastery's founder.

Last updated: January 11, 2016