Church of Boris and Gleb. Suzdal


The ancient town of Suzdal’ was one of the richest centers of medieval Russian culture. Finno-Ugric and Slavic peoples had long lived in the area. At the turn of the 12th century Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev arrived with a new wave of settlers who began to till the fertile land in the area. Over the centuries, numerous churches and monasteries were built in Suzdal’, most of which have survived in some form. This panoramic view, taken in the late summer of 1912, is centered on the Church of Saints Boris and Gleb, as photographed from the bell tower of the Church of Saint Dmitrii. The latter church was demolished during the Soviet period. Built in 1749, the Church of Saints Boris and Gleb follows a 17th-century form (a bell tower in the west and an octagonal structure supporting the dome in the east) with 18th-century baroque detailing. In this view, it is seen as a parish church on the outskirts of town, surrounded by sturdy wooden houses and vegetable gardens, with broad grain fields beyond—a tranquil picture of rural Russia on the eve of the cataclysmic changes brought by the Russian Revolution. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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 parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Борисоглебская Церковь. Суздаль

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 22, 2015