St. Cyril (Kirill)-Belozersk Monastery, Holy Gates (1523), with Church of St. John Climacus (1572), South View, Kirillov, Russia


This south view of the Gate Church of Saint John Climacus at Saint Kirill Belozersk Monastery (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1993 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 Muscovite monk canonized in 1547. The monastery soon acquired significance as a major religious center with connections to the Muscovite court and as a fortress on Muscovy's expanding northern flank. Kirill’s central role was recognized by the dedication to him of the entire monastic ensemble, consisting of two adjacent monasteries: the Dormition and John the Baptist. The main entrance to the Dormition Monastery is through the Holy Gates (1523) in the north inner wall. In 1569-72 a church was erected over the gates, in the Russian tradition, and dedicated to the Byzantine theologian Saint John Climacus. Originally capped with three rows of decorative gables (kokoshniki), the upper part of the church was damaged by fire and rebuilt in the 18th century with a four-sloped roof and a baroque cupola. The cupola rests on the original 16th-century tall drum with decorative brick elements at the top.

Last updated: January 11, 2016