Saint Sophia Cathedral is the oldest surviving building in the city of Vologda. It was built in 1568-1570, when Ivan the Terrible introduced the Oprichnina and made Vologda its capital. The model after which the cathedral was built was the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Ivan personally supervised the construction, and the builders were permitted to use almost unlimited resources. Ivan also, for unknown reason, ordered the cathedral's unusual orientation: its altar apse does not face east as is common in Orthodox Churches but rather northeast.
In 1571, Ivan the Terrible unexpectedly left Vologda and returned to Moscow. Soon afterwards, he abolished the Oprichnina and never showed any further interest in Vologda. He even gave an order for the cathedral to be demolished before he left the city, but subsequently withdrew it. By that time, the cathedral was constructed but not yet decorated or consecrated. The cathedral was completed during the reign of Feodor Ivanovich, the son of Ivan the Terrible, and consecrated in 1587. The frescoes inside the cathedral were made between 1685 and 1687 by a group of painters from Yaroslavl under the direction of Dmitry Plekhanov.
The bell-tower of the cathedral is the highest construction in Vologda, and is 78 metres high. The first wooden bell-tower of the cathedral was built at the end of the 16th century. The octagonal stone bell-tower was built in 1654-1659. The vaulted dome of the bell-tower in the pseudo-gothic style was built in 1869 by Vladimir Schildknecht, the chief architect of Vologda Governorate, by order of Bishop Palladius. The bells have proper names. The Big Holiday Bell was cast in 1687, the Water Carrier Bell was cast in 1643, the Watch Bell was cast in 1627, the Archangel Bell was cast in 1689, the Big Swan Bell was cast in 1689, and the Little Swan Bell was cast in 1656. The Bell-tower also known as a Watch tower. The chimes have been manufactured on the Brothers Gutenop factory in Moscow in 1871. The observation deck has a panoramic view.
In Soviet times, the cathedral was shut down and now it serves as a museum.References:
Trondenes Church is the northernmost medieval stone church of Norway. Though frequently mentioned as a 13th-century church, dating based on dendrochronology places its completion shortly after 1434. Compared to the other ten north Norwegian medieval stone churches, Trondenes church is well preserved and the exterior is close to the original state. The nave is 22.6 metres long and the chancel is 13.5 metres, making it one of the largest medieval churches of rural Norway. In the late Medieval period, Trondenes served as the main church centre of Northern Norway.
The church is especially known for its rich decorations, including three gothic triptychs, one of which is made by the German Hanseatic artist Bernt Notke. The baroque pulpit is equipped with an hourglass to allow the minister to time long sermons. The organ dates from the late 18th century. In the choir section, one can see remnants of medieval frescoes.
The church is probably the third church on the site, the first stave church was built in the 11th century, the second in the 12th. The second church was fortified with stone walls and ramparts, remnants of which can be seen around the church.The church used to have a little turret, which was demolished. Now the bells are rung from a little tower in the graveyeard.