St. Cyril (Kirill)-Belozersk Monastery, Southeast Wall with Svitochnaia Tower (1660s), Kirillov, Russia


This east view of the Svitochnaia Tower at Saint Kirill Belozersk Monastery (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1998 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 on the north shore of Lake Siverskoe by Kirill (1337-1427), a monk of noble birth from Moscow who was canonized in 1547. The monastery served both as a religious center and as a fortress on Muscovy's northern flank. The entire monastic ensemble, dedicated to Saint Kirill, consisted of two adjacent monasteries: the Dormition and John the Baptist. The ensemble’s main walls, some two kilometers in length, were built over a 30-year period, from 1654 to the 1680s. Portions of the older, late 16th-century brick walls remain, including the Svitochnaia Tower (on left), which anchors the southeast corner of the Dormition Monastery wall as it juts into Lake Siverskoe. This rectangular tower, with its five levels, is the largest section to survive from the earlier walls. Much of the wall itself collapsed in 1633 and the section visible here dates from the mid-17th century. In the right background is the "tent" tower of the Church of Saint Evfimii (1646), attached to the monastery hospital.

Last updated: January 11, 2016