43 Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today

Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today

Posted on September 10, 2006 by team

In this article there are some interesting photos of a few Russian churches made in 1910 and today. The fact that makes them more interesting the 1910 photos are color photos also!

Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) received a few patents for his color photo technique. He traveled across Russia in the beginning of the 20th century and made thousands of photos. I visited his exhibition and the photos are really stunning, especially when you understand that they were made 100 years ago but are fully in color. That’s a real lost world of Russia before the Soviet era, before WW2 and WW1.

Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, going first to Norway and England before settling in France. By then, the tsar and his family had been executed during the Russian Revolution, and the Communist rule had been established over what was once the Russian Empire. His unique images of Russia on the eve of the revolution — recorded on glass plates — were purchased by the United States’ Library of Congress in 1948 from his heirs.

In 2001, the Library of Congress produced an exhibition, The Empire that was Russia. For this exhibition, the glass plates were scanned and color images were produced digitally from the scanned red, green, and blue monochrome images, using a process called Digichromatography which was developed by Walter Frankhauser.

In 2004, the Library contracted with Blaise Agüera y Arcas to produce an automated color composite of each of the 1,902 negatives from the high resolution digital images of the glass plate negatives. A complete description of his process and a list of other sites that have prepared digital color composite images are in the collection profile at the Library of Congress.

And here are the few photos of some churches in Seliger region that were made by Prokudin-Gorskii almost 100 years ago and each photo goes with a corresponding photo of the same place made nowadays.
 prokudin-gorskii photos

Church in Ostashkov small town, 96 years ago. Check out the horse coach on the right. In the beginning of the 20th century when in the USA there were already 1,000,000 people in Russia there were only a few hundreds of passenger cars, the most common mean of transport was a horse powered transport.

prokudin-gorskii photos

Church in Ostashkov small town, today. Today there are almost no horse coaches, and even some road signs.

prokudin-gorskii photos

Ostashkov town, 96 years ago



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43 Responses to “Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today”

  1. Photos: the same spots today and 100 years ago in Russia…

    Photos: the same spots today and 100 years ago in Russia…

    • Joynuel says:

      This are so nice, so precious and beautiful in looking so colourful
      higherly inteligent perfect working with great sensibilitys,technology
      is good to show to all the world to see how colourful Russia is, very interesting to see and to visit,
      show more and continue in good work doing,100 PERCANT GOOD & PERFECT

  2. Steve says:

    Very interesting, thanks for showing these

  3. Color Photos of The Same Places 100 Years Ago and Today…


  4. Richard says:

    The photos are really beautiful. Amazing to see both the changes and lack of changes ! Thanks for making them available.

  5. Braad Spitt says:

    Amazing to see the quality of those old photographs; of course they most probably have been enhanced in some way or other, but they look so natural.

    I really like the stuff you’re posting on this log (in a language that I can understand). Keep up the good work!

  6. [...] English Russia: Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today [...]

  7. Danny says:

    Wow..I found EnglishRussia about 2 weeks ago. After looking at the pictures and such I realized the Russians are just like us with the same problems, etc.

    I especially like the work of this website’s author. The subject is so varied from sadness to extreme hillarity!

    You keep up the good work and don’t change a thing!!

    I have learned alot!

    Dallas, Texas

  8. [...] Via English-Russia, a series of fascinating pictures of Russian churches, the first taken in 1910, the second just a couple of years ago: [...]

  9. 1l1 says:

    Thanks for this article :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    תמונות של אותם מקומות לפני 100 שנה והיום…

    אמן רוסי מתמחה בשיחזור צבעים של תמונות ישנות בשיטה יחודית. בתמונות ניתן לראות את אותם מקומות כפי שצולמו לפני כ 100 שנים ועכשיו….

  11. [...] +: Online simulator of a 3-rotor Enigma machine.+: Hug Jesus or he’ll make you unhappy and give you diseases.+: Interesting imagery: color photos 100apart.+: As if snakes weren’t scary enough to begin with…+: Man arrested for BEING rolled oats.+: Mexican standoff with a Chicken.+: Oh yeah, Pope? Well, Brangelina won’t marry til gays can.+:or I’ll shoot you!+: Pope tells Canadians to stop being Gay.+: The Swiss aren’t the only ones who brake forgoats. [...]

  12. Anton says:

    Great work!

  13. Gonzalo says:


    thanks so much for so beautiful gallery…

  14. [...] Gek hoe sommige dingen toch niet veranderen op zoveel tijd: Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today [...]

  15. jim says:

    As #8 said, very interesting and thank you for showing these. I like your articles. Another reader from the US.

  16. 4emist says:

    sorry, i take my words back) i’ve read the begining

  17. [...] English Russia » Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today (tags: architecture church cool history interesting russia photography) [...]

  18. Rooski says:

    New and Old Photos of Russian Churches…

    Here are some interesting photos taken of the same church now and 100 years ago in Russia. Its interesting to note how little the churches and surrounding area has changed during this time. Also, the fact that the photos from the early 20th century a…..

  19. Alex says:

    Thanx for good collection. I love this region and quite familiar with P-G works. 4those who do not believe: they are real. #3 is abs.right. Cool. Thanx again.

  20. Tim Grenville-Cleave says:

    ‘Stumbled’ upon this site today … To see both the former USSR, and Russia today, on the same website is fasinating to say the least. Thank you for providing such an informative, thought provoking place. Your approach to showing such contrasts, happy, sad, or just downright funny, without bias is very refreshing.

    Please continue with this site, I shall return daily, once again thank you.

    Tim GC

  21. Uriah says:

    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/ethnic.html – here is the source of colored photos made in Russia at the beginning of 20th century. The amazing story.

  22. [...] I found this site a few weeks ago while browsing the web at my salon (a magical place with live DJs, internet bar and hair cutting parties that last till midnight once a month) and forgot to post it here for Lynn. A Russian photographer in 1910 roamed around the country taking color images of churches in pre-revolution Russia. Now, nearly 100 years later, how have things changed? [...]

  23. Dave says:

    After looking at the pictures and such I realized the Russians are just like us with the same problems, etc.

    People everywhere are all alike, they just want a belly full of food and a nice peaceful life. It’s governments that screw everything up.

  24. Lisa says:

    I love these “then and now” photos! So interesting. Sad to see how run down some places have become though.

  25. Taking Aim says:

    Russian Churches, now and then…

    Via English-Russia, a series of fascinating pictures of Russian churches, the first taken in 1910, the second just a couple of years ago:

    The first picture was taken by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer to the Russian Tsar, who developed a revo…

  26. PJ says:

    Hey, need a moderator for your comments section? I would really get a kick out of deleting some of these ignorant and inane comments.

    Fabulous post, by the way. :)

  27. m says:

    Beautiful photos.

  28. Ed Currie says:

    Fascinating photos. 70 years of atheism, really! God is still here and communism is in the dustbin of history.

  29. cherry says:

    This is so cool! Thank you :)

    Thanks, also, to Uriah who posted this link: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/ethnic.html

    I’s great to get a glimpse into lives so little documented, and so long ago. Check out the tribesman with his dagger & medals – he must have taken great care to get dressed up for his portrait.


  30. vadim says:

    I love Russia

  31. ereeni says:

    that is so good but it will be great if we able 2 see what is inside these churches

  32. Abel Nightroad says:

    These pictures are truely beautiful. It is so very interesting to see how these churches have changed through all these years. Thankyou for taking the time to do something like this.

  33. paul in canada says:

    What a great site. The photos are beautiful especially the before photos, when the world was still romantic and majestic. Very interesting to see the change from the same camera vantage point, this is a treasure.

    Funny that I found your site on the first page of google after typing ‘gorsky russia’, which is the birthplace of a famous Russian martial artist named Tektorov.

    Great site, you are adding a good thing to the world.

  34. Randy says:

    These are some of the most beautiful churches.

  35. Acai Berry says:

    Thanks to the article, well thought out. I searched for a while to find the right answer to my questions!

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  37. [...] this page has color photos of then and now! *excited squeal* English Russia Color Photos of Russian Churches 100 Years Ago and Today [...]

  38. The Prodigal Son says:


    Those must be some of the only Churches that made it through all the years of bolsheviks and communism… I know many, many beautiful Churches were destroyed.

    God bless from Canada! I too love Russia! Christ conquers!

    IC XC
    NI KA

  39. Andy jack says:

    Acai is the high-energy berry processed from a special Amazon palm tree. Its nutritional benefits are so powerful than any other fruits or tree.

  40. mukmika says:

    A priceless heritage of beautiful buildings, and we are so lucky to have the internet to view them. Also lucky to have someone to post them!

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