Study of Chertovo Gorodishche


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural scenes. Although Prokudin-Gorskii is best-known for his photographs of people and historic buildings, he also took photos of striking geographical features. This vista of the Ural Mountains was taken from the top of a natural wonder known as Chertovo Gorodishche (Devil’s Fort) in the region of Ekaterinburg, the major city in the area (named Sverdlovsk 1924–91). The “fort” is formed by a massive outcropping of sedimentary rock, a karst formation typical of the western Urals. The stratified rock was eroded into shapes that resemble walls and towers. Because of the difficult terrain, this site was largely inaccessible until the construction of a railroad through this part of the Urals in the early 1880s. The dense forest cover includes pine, fir, and larch trees, as well as aspen and birch, seen in fall foliage here in this September 1909 étude (study). Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Этюд на Чертовом Городище

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: September 28, 2016