Cathedral Bell Tower (17th Century, Rebuilt 1869-70), Northwest View over Kremlin Walls, Vologda, Russia


This northwest view of the cathedral bell tower 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, known as the Archbishop’s Court. The dominant element of this ensemble is the bell tower, seen here from within the court. The original brick tower, octagonal in form and culminating in a conical "tent" tower and cupola, was constructed in 1654-58. In 1869-70 this tower served as the core for an expansion of the structure by the architect, V.N. Shildknekht, who buttressed the lower walls and added two tiers with a cupola and an observation platform enclosed by an iron railing. For decorative effect Shildknekht used both medieval Russian and pseudo-Gothic elements.

Last updated: January 11, 2016