Cathedral Bell Tower (1713), South Facade, Solikamsk, Russia


This photograph of the south façade of the Cathedral Bell Tower in Solikamsk was taken in 1999 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Founded around 1430 on the middle reaches of the Kama River, Solikamsk is among the oldest Russian settlements in the Ural Mountains. Its wealth was based on rich sources of salt (hence the first part of its name) and other minerals. By the late 16th century, the defeat of various Tatar khanates permitted a direct path across the Urals into Siberia, and Solikamsk benefited as a major customs point. The most visible expression of the city’s importance was the Cathedral Bell Tower, erected in 1713 on a bluff above the small Usolka River. Due to its exposed location, the tower developed a lean, but its massive construction has allowed it to stand undamaged. The spire is built in an early 18th-century style, but was added only in 1837, raising the height of the tower to 60 meters. The tower's stout base was designed for administrative offices, with reinforced interior walls to support the immensely heavy tower, whose bells served the nearby Church of the Trinity. The octagonal tower shaft is decorated with attached columns and brick patterns in bold colors.

Last updated: January 11, 2016