St. Cyril (Kirill)-Belozersk Monastery, West Wall (1654-1680s), with Ferapontov (Moscow) Tower and Kosaia Tower (1662), Kirillov, Russia


This view of the west wall of Saint Kirill Belozersk Monastery (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1995 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Formally dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, the monastery was founded in 1397 by Kirill (1337-1427), a monk of noble birth who had served at the Simonov Monastery in Moscow. The monastery's importance as a religious center and as a fortress on Muscovy's expanding northern flank was recognized by the canonization of Kirill in 1547 and the dedication to him of the monastic ensemble, which consists of two adjacent monasteries: the Dormition and John the Baptist. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the monastery was periodically involved in Muscovite politics. Its walls, some two kilometers in length, were erected over a 30-year period, from 1654 to the 1680s. Support for this massive undertaking came from Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, who saw the monastery as a strategic point in the defense of northwest Russia against the Swedes. The northwest corner of the monastery-fortress is anchored by the Ferapontov--or Moscow--Tower (on the left), named after the road leading to those places. An angle at the center of the wall is guarded by the Kosaia Tower (1662).

Last updated: January 11, 2016