Cathedral of St. Sophia (1568-70), Interior, East View, Vologda, Russia


This interior view of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Vologda 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. Before the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, Russia depended on a northern route through the White Sea for trade with western Europe. One of the most important centers on this route was Vologda, founded in the 12th century. The significance of Vologda increased during the reign of Ivan IV (the Terrible), who intended to convert it into a major fortress in the 1560s. The centerpiece of his effort was the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, built in 1568-70 but consecrated only in 1588, after Ivan's death. In 1686, Archbishop Gavriil of Vologda hired some 30 master artists from Iaroslavl', including Dmitrii Grigorev Plekhanov, to create frescoes for the interior. The project was completed in 1688. The frescoes include major scenes from the lives of Christ and Mary, the parables of Christ, and, on the west wall, a vivid Last Judgment. This view shows two of the north piers, looking east toward the iconostasis beneath the main dome, whose cylinder is painted with images of archangels. The large five-tiered icon screen, created primarily in the 18th century, culminates in a painted crucifix.

Last updated: January 11, 2016