Ruins of a Fourth-Century Genovese Church on the Estate of Count Sheremetev


Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made a number of trips to the Caucasus region, including one in the summer of 1912. On this trip, he photographed extensively along the coast of the Black Sea in the area of Sochi. After the end of the Caucasian War in 1864, Russia encouraged settlers to move into the coastal area, which became a part of Chernomorskaia guberniia (Black Sea Province). Among those who acquired property in the area was Count Sergeii Sheremetev (1844–1918), who created an estate at the village of Loo (now part of Sochi). The grounds of the estate included the remains of a Byzantine church whose origins have been provisionally dated to a period around the 10th century. (The original caption for this photograph gives inaccurate information about the monument.) Extensive archeological study shows that the structure was renovated in the 14th century, but it ceased to be used as a church after the collapse of the roof. For a time thereafter, the walls served as a fortified point. Seen here is the surviving north wall, slightly over one meter thick and built of carefully worked limestone blocks, with slabs of sandstone and slate. 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

Развалины Генуэзскаго храма IV в. в имении графа Шереметьева

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: October 7, 2016