The Stroganoff Town of Solvychegodsk

Above: view of the Solvychgodsk shore

The Stroganoff town of Solvychegodsk stands on the river Vychegda lying 20 kilometers from the Kotlas. The town received its name due to the rich local salt works, which were owned by the Stroganoffs and was a source of some of their enormous wealth. The town was the site of many magnificent churches which were established by the Stroganoff family.

At left: view of a Solvchegodsk church

The first of these churches was the Annunciation Cathedral, built in 1560. The great distance from the main Russian cultural centers of the time, Moscow and Novgorod, required the importation of artists on a permanent basis, which resulted in the development of distinctive local style. The Cathedral contains a grandiose gilded iconstasis, which was carved in Moscow by a team led by Grigori Ivanov and transported here in 1693.

The origins of the famed Stroganoff school of iconography and the decorative arts can be seen here in opulent examples of enamel, painting and other applied arts on display in the cathedral museum. Orthodox services are still conducted in another 16th century cathedral, also built by the Stroganoff family. The city itself counts 2,000 inhabitants - a number virtually unchanged in number since the 18th century - who still maintain the cultural inheritance of the old Russian North as a living tradition.