Church of the Intercession (1780), Southwest View, Ustiuzhna, Russia


This southwest view of the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Ustiuzhna (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 2001 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located on the Mologa River (a tributary of the Volga River), Ustiuzhna was known already in the mid-13th century for its rich deposits of iron ore. It rapidly became one of the earliest Russian centers of metalworking and achieved special prominence in the 16th century. The town’s former commercial importance is reflected in an array of churches--13 by the 19th century. The Church of the Nativity of Christ, also known as the Church of the Intercession, after one of its secondary altars, was completed in 1781, on the left bank of the Mologa. The church’s main structure has ornamental window surrounds on a facade of whitewashed brick, and culminates in five cupolas on decorated octagonal drums. The cupolas are crowned with intricate crosses. The low refectory, heated for worship in the winter, contained altars dedicated to the Intercession and to the Vladimir Icon of the Virgin. At the west end of the church was a bell tower built in 1829-32. The church was closed in 1939, its bell tower destroyed, and its interior gutted, although sections of wall paintings from the 1880s have survived.

Last updated: January 11, 2016