Cathedral of St. Sophia (1568-70), with Belltower (1869-70), Southeast View, Vologda, Russia


This photograph of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Vologda was taken in 1998 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Before the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703, Russia depended on a northern route through the White Sea for trade with western Europe. One of the most important centers on this route was Vologda, founded in the 12th century. The significance of Vologda increased during the reign of Ivan IV (the Terrible), who intended to convert it into a major fortress in the 1560s. The centerpiece of his effort was the Sophia Cathedral, built in 1568-70 but consecrated only in 1588, after Ivan's death. This magnificent structure and its surroundings became a major preservation site during the Soviet period. The cathedral's whitewashed brick walls culminate in a row of semicircular gables (zakomary), restored to their original configuration after World War II. The large onion domes that crown the structure evolved to their present form during the 17th century. Their elaborate iron crosses were added in 1687. To the left are the cathedral belltower (1869-70) and the Resurrection Cathedral (1772-76), with elements of baroque and neoclassical styles.

Last updated: February 12, 2016