Founded in 1147, Vologda is one of the cities that preserve the heritage of the North Russian school of architecture. Many visitors to the city admire the unique architecture of the ancient buildings of Vologda.
In the panorama of its historical centre the dominant feature is presented by the city's oldest building - the St. Sophia Cathedral (16th century).
The St.Sophia Cathedral with its gigantic Bell Tower became the symbol of Vologda. Built under the order of Ivan the Terrible, five – domed St.Sophia cathedral is the first stone temple of the town. It is modelled on the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin. A bell-tower next to the cathedral rises to a height of over 78 metres (256 feet).
Majestic St. Sophia cathedral was built in the pure Byzantine style, while the church tower nearby was built by a European architect in the Gothic style. It is topped not with the Gothic steeple, but with the Orthodox "onion" cupola. The two architectural styles, Byzantine and Gothic, co-existed and were apprehended as the signs of the times.
The Vologda Kremlin
The Vologda Kremlin is the main pride of Vologda. Now it houses the Vologda State Museum-Preserve of History, Architecture and Decorative Arts. It is one of the largest museums of Russia's North. The ensemble of monuments was built during four centuries (XVI- XIX).
The Vologda State museum-preserve is a scientific - exploring and educational organisation, state storage of artistic, historical, architectural memorials of material and spiritual culture and as well as memorials of nature. The Vologda Kremlin has an area of more than 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres), and it contains natural-science, historical, and art museums, as well as other exhibition halls, which contain more than 400,000 pieces of art, including ancient icons, manuscripts, early printed books, and articles crafted by Vologda silversmiths. The most valuable collections are the collection of Russian Ancient Art (icons), sculpture, numismatics, Old Russian books and others.
The museum is annually visited by 200 thousand people. More than 30 expositions on various topics are created every year; international and all-Russian scientific conferences, practical seminars are held in the museum.
Aleksander Nevsky Church
Aleksander Nevsky Church is situated near the Vologda Kremlin, just opposite the entrance to the Kremlin complex. The church was built in 1760.
It is located on the right bank of the Vologda River near the cathedrals of Saint Sophia and the Resurrection. It was originally called Saint Nicholas on the Limestone because of its site near the remains of a fortress begun by Ivan the Terrible. Apparently built at the turn of the 18th century, the church was renovated in the 1860s and given a new dedication in honor of Tsar Alexander II’s survival after an assassination attempt in 1866. Its form is typical for parish churches, with a cuboid main structure, a low vestibule and a bell tower on the west side. Closed in the 1920s, the church was reopened for divine services in 1997.
Memorial Museum of Peter I
Memorial Museum of Peter the Great is located in a one-storeyed building which stands on the Vologda River. The house is a historical and architectural monument of the late 17th century.
Peter I visited Vologda on several occasions in 1692-1724 and he always stayed in this house. The house was restored and turned into a museum by the emperor's decree in 1895.
Now the museum is a one-room display that is divided into several sections. On display in the first section are potraits of renowned statesmen of the time and Peter I's bronze bust. In the second section one can see oil potraits of Peter the Great and Catherine I. In the glass showcase there are Peter's clothes - an everyday coat and a festive one. Other historic relics present Peter I's manifold activities and include an old map of Russia, a book about Russia published in France and books about Peter's glorious deeds.
The exhibits in the third section display Peter I's contribution into the Russian development. There are engravings showing Peter I's war victories. Other exhibits feature the emperor's activities in reforming the Russian Army - the Military Rules, cannons and cannon-balls of the time, soldiers' military outfit.
Spaso – Prilutsky monastery
The Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery is a monastery located on the bank of the Vologda River outside the city of Vologda. It is one of the largest monasteries of the North and a magnificent architectural ensemble of Ancient Russia. Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery, like many monasteries in Russia, is built like a fortress.
The monastery was founded in 1371 by Dmitry Prilutsky, a pupil and associate of Saint Sergius Radonezhsky. Dmitry Prilutsky is considered to be a patron saint of Vologda.
Originally all the monastic constructions were made of wood, however, the Spaso-Prilutsky monastery was the first among others decorated with stone structures.
In the beginning of XVII century, during the so called time of troubles, the monastery underwent many disasters. But in the second half of XVII century intensive stone construction started again. Strong stone walls with the towers, which reliably secured the monastery from enemy attacks were erected; a bell tower and various economic constructions were also built.
Dmitry Prilutsky Church
The Dmitry Prilutsky Church is situated on the left bank of the Vologda River, near of the pedestrian bridge to Zosimovskaya Street. The church was built in 1651 by Yaroslavl' masters Boris Nazarov and Pankrat Timofeev. Later a warm church and a belfry were built in 1710. In 1930 the church was closed and used as a store house. Only in 1999 the Dmitry Prilutsky Church was returned to the believers. It is operating nowadays.