Cathedral of the Dormition (1711-1717), East View, Kem', Russia


This east view of the Cathedral of the Dormition in Kem' (Karelia) 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. Located on the southwest shore of the White Sea, Kem’ was not only an important settlement in its own right, but also served as a gateway to the Solovetskii Islands. Built in 1711-17, the Cathedral of the Dormition is one of the most interesting wooden structures in Russian architecture—and a rare surviving cathedral (sobor) built of wood. Its core consists of three octagonal components of pine logs crowned with tent towers supporting cupolas covered in aspen shingles. Each component rests on a square base and has its own altar. The central tower, dedicated to the Dormition, is over 35 meters in height, while the side towers are about 24 meters high. The south chapel (pridel) is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The north chapel (on the right, obscured by foliage) is dedicated to the Solovetskii saints Zosima and Savvatii, and was completed in 1714. On the east side of the cathedral, each component has an apse (partially visible here) for the altar. On the west side, the ensemble is unified by a large gallery and vestibule (trapeznaia). The structure has been the object of a prolonged restoration effort.

Last updated: January 11, 2016