Monastery for Women in Cherdyn (The Oldest Church in the Region)


In 1909 and 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled extensively in the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural landscapes. His visit to the northern Urals in the summer of 1912 included a trip to the regional center of Cherdyn, located 310 kilometers north of the city of Perm. Cherdyn served as an important eastern outpost of the Muscovite state in the latter half of the 15th century. In 1467, a monastery dedicated to Saint John the Divine was established there, the oldest such institution in the Urals. After a fire in 1700, the log structures were replaced by this brick church, seen here from the northwest. Resting on a square footprint, the church rises to a tiered octagonal tower supporting a single cupola. The simple exterior belies a richly finished interior with a large iconostasis. Although the monastery was closed in 1784, the church continued to be used and its territory was enclosed by a brick and iron fence. In the early 20th century, it was reestablished as a convent and thus needed additional structures. Preparations for that construction can be seen here in the stacks of bricks and flagstone. Visible in the left background is a cemetery around a lone pine tree, beyond which is the Kolva River. 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

Женский монастырь в Чердыни (древнейшая церковь в крае)

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