Saint Sophia Cathedral

Vologda, Russia

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.



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Founded: 1568-1587
Category: Religious sites in Russia


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Вадим Дианов (9 months ago)
Decent Sophia.
U T (12 months ago)
Russian Sistine Chapel
Simon Weppel (13 months ago)
Beautiful silver church ⛪
Евгения Клыкова (14 months ago)
A stunning view, words cannot convey. I don't want to leave.
Нина Смелкова (16 months ago)
Amazing frescoes by one of the best icon painting teams of the second half of the 17th century: Dmitry Plekhanov.
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