Spaso-Sumorin Monastery, Church of the Ascension (1796-1801 and 1825), East Facade, Tot'ma, Russia


This east view of the Church (sobor) of the Ascension at Savior-Sumorin Monastery near Tot'ma (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 on the Sukhona River, Tot’ma had become a major center of salt refining by the middle of the 16th century. Monasteries in the Vologda area received tax exemptions from Moscow for salt production, and the Savior-Prilutskii Monastery sent one of its monks, Feodosii Sumorin, to supervise salt production in Tot’ma. In 1554, Feodosii founded a monastery nearby, on the Pesya Denga River. The Savior-Sumorin Monastery soon became one of the region's major Orthodox institutions. The grandest of the monastery's surviving structures is Church of the Ascension, built in a neoclassical style over a period of three decades, from 1796 to 1825. The main structure, with brick walls covered in stucco, has Corinthian porticos on the sides. It culminates in five cupolas around a central dome. The apse (in the center) contains the main altar and echoes the rotunda form of the dome. A massive arcaded brick terrace serves as a pedestal for this majestic creation. Although the exterior has been restored, the church has remained abandoned.

Last updated: January 11, 2016