North and West Walls of Archbishop's Court (Kremlin), with Northwest Tower (1671-75), and St. Sophia Cathedral Bell Tower (1869-70), Vologda, Russia


This northwest view of Archbishop's Court (Arkhiereiskii dvor) in Vologda was taken in 2000 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. A rich center of medieval Russian culture, Vologda had numerous churches, of which the most prominent was the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint Sophia. Adjacent to the cathedral were buildings serving the bishopric of Vologda. In 1671-75 a brick wall was erected to enclose this compound, formally known as Archbishop’s Court, but popularly called the Vologda “kremlin.” Although never used as a fortress, its northwest tower reflects medieval fortress architecture. In the left background is the refectory Church of the Nativity of Christ, begun in 1667 and completed in the 1670s as part of the Archbishop’s Chambers. The church’s original five cupolas were reduced to one in the 1860s. To the left of the Church of the Nativity of Christ is the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, and to the right of it is the cathedral bell tower, a 17th-century structure that was enlarged in 1869-70.

Last updated: January 11, 2016