59 Wooden Russia Of The Past

Wooden Russia Of The Past

Photos of ancient Russian cities taken by a Russian photographer Prokudin-Gorskoy are often called ‘pictures’. The cities are shown in their unreal and unearthly beauty and harmony where landscapes are naturally combined with buildings. 99% of Russian people of those days lived in nice wooden houses the only exception being formed by the capitals.

Zolotoust, 1909. That cathedral was destructed in 1930.

Rostov-on-Don, 1911. The Kremlin is still there and being restored regularly.

A fratry in Torzhok, 1910. Today Torzhok is related to one of the most picturesque places of Russia. However, the place needs restoration.

Staritsa on the Volga river, 1910. In spite of the fact that many churches had been destructed and wide woods need to be cut, the place is still beautiful even today.

The town of Zubtsov, 1910. It lost almost all of its churches but still looks nice in spite of modern skyscrapers around.

Rzhev, 1910. The town was totally destructed during the WWII. The landscape of those days is the main decoration of the city today.

Ostashkov, 1910. The historical part of the old town was preserved. The place is totally abandoned, though.

Aleksandrov, nunnery, 1911. The former residence of Ivan Grozny is now a museum complex but the town is filled with high-rise buildings and is far from being picturesque.

Suzdal, 1912. This is a reservation area adored by tourists from all over the world.

New Ladoga, 1909. The place needs restoration.

The town of Kirillov,1909.


Vytegra, 1909.

Plyos, 1909.





Tver, 1910.

Yekaterinburg, 1909.

Tyumen, 1912.


All the cities are not in the same condition as they used to be. They were deprived of many architectural elements and only some of them were restored. The photos show how unique Russian cities and towns were in the past.

via oldcolor

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59 Responses to “Wooden Russia Of The Past”

  1. Marcello says:

    Were these photos originally in colour of have then been digitally enhanced?
    Either way, I think they are a brilliant set giving a good insight in how things were in these places 100 years ago.

  2. scott says:

    Wow – Amazing quality!!! I could almost step inside those photos…I wish that I could!!!

  3. MAC says:

    this was all before … communism that destroyed it all…

    • chemia says:

      exactly ! shame :(

    • Hans says:

      This was before horrible abuse made the people rise.

      • America says:

        And then the abused became the abusers…

        • Hans says:

          Mmm… no. Abuse started a revolution. Revolutions are violent, unpredicatble and uncontrollable events caused from the need to change unbearable abuse.

          Everything has a cause.

          • too much vodka says:

            THere were three revolutions in Russia, one failed, in 1905, the others in february 1917 and in august 1991 (against the neostalinist coup) succeeded. The “revolution” you probably talked about was not a revolution but a coup d’état by the bolshewiks, followed by a brutal civil war to grab power in the whole country. The abuse that followed was much worse than the subjects of the czar ever could imagine.

            • Hans says:

              “not a revolution”

              Really? You reaaly had too much vodka.

            • vorontsevich says:

              Here we go again. The whole “you don’t know your history, only we do” line again. I wouldn’t call the 1905 revolution a failure. It succeeded in pushing the tsar toward reform, but the reforms were too little. But then again, what do I know, I’m only Russian.

              How exactly were the events of august 1991 a revolution? The coup itself was by hardline communists wanting to (re)take power from the more liberal Gorbachev. The anti-coup protesters were mostly there to stop the hardliners from succeeding. Both failed. The coup failed effectively before it had even started. The protests succeeded in turning the army around, and stopped the coup. But while their intentions were good, they wanted to stop the hardliners from being in control, the result was not a more liberal Soviet Union, but no Soviet Union at all. Look how well that turned out. But what happened to the ordinary people dont matter. Russia was no longer the biggest threat to western interests that was all that mattered.

              But again, some guy in Belgium (or wherever), would know these things better than we ever could.

          • America says:

            The abuse continued long after the revolution ended. It was systemic and long lived.

            • Hans says:

              Everything has a cause. That’s the case of revolutions, commies or not.

            • vorontsevich says:

              Oh really? Tell me more about this abuse. I was born long after the revolution ended, my parents, grandparents were all born after the revolution ended. And yet somehow, we never suffered this so-called abuse that you speak of. But then again, some American holed up in his house would know these things better than those that actually lived through those times.

            • Big Bubba says:

              Well, American Blacks just stopped a 150 year hard ass abuse some 30 years ago. It wasn’t easy, believe me.

  4. Richard S. says:

    Excellent color enhancements. Almost looks like the original color photos.

    • Don says:

      Its actually original color photos.

      • America says:

        No, it’s not. It’s originally 3 B&W photos shot with a different color filter for each one. They are then later combined into a color print, or simultaneously projected from a special slide projector that holds 3 slides and uses 3 different colored lights to project the color image on a screen.

  5. dfghdfgh says:


    More of these pics!!!

  6. timoulete says:

    Very beautiful picture, thanks for this post.
    Other post with actual time would be great !

  7. alpham says:

    These photos are originally in colour. Google: Prokudin Gorsky

    • America says:

      Or more accurately they are 3 monochrome photographic plates, each shot through a different color filter, that together contain all of the information required to reproduce the original color image. But if you looked at the individual photographic plates they are in B&W.

      • Optometrist says:

        I see beautiful 100 years old color pics.

        If you see another thing, you have a problem.

        • America says:

          What you see are the result of 3 black and white photos, color filtered, and digitally combined into a “color photograph” sometime in the early 21rst century by the U.S. Library of Congress.

          But what you would see if you looked at the actual photographs he took are 3 black and white photos of the same scene, slightly apart in time, and slightly different tones due to the color filter used on each one.

      • Up all night says:


        “The same three images taken through red, green and blue filters which are used for additive color synthesis may also be used to produce color prints and transparencies by the subtractive method, in which colors are subtracted from white light…”.


        What you described, it’s an AUTHENTIC COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY process, and that’s what these photos are: Color Photographs.

        Do better research before embarrassing yourself.

        • Scrot says:

          Dear “America” guy,

          I’m pleased to inform you that -again-, you were OWNED!!

          This is fun.

        • America says:

          Yes, it’s an authentic color photography process. One that took a hundred years to come full circle. My point is the actual photographic plates are not color plates. The PRINTS produced from multiple plates are authentic color prints. Very few color prints were produced in his lifetime as it was extremely difficult to do with the equipment available. It’s only now in the early 21rst century that we can view most of the surviving negatives in color.

          I never said the colors in these prints isn’t authentic. Just that the actual photographic negatives are not color negatives. they are monochrome. but whatever…

          “Due to the difficulty in reproducing prints of sufficient quality from the negatives, only some hundred were used for exhibits, books and scholarly articles after the Library of Congress acquired them.[4] The best-known is perhaps the 1980 coffee table book Photographs for the Tsar: The Pioneering Color Photography of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II,[19] where the photos were combined from black-and-white prints of the negatives.[20] It was only with the advent of digital image processing that multiple images could be satisfactorily combined into one.[21] The Library of Congress undertook a project in 2000 to make digital scans of all the photographic material received from Prokudin-Gorsky’s heirs and contracted with the photographer Walter Frankhauser to combine the monochrome negatives into color images.[22] He created 122 color renderings using a method he called digichromatography and commented that each image took him around six to seven hours to align, clean and color-correct.[23] In 2001, the Library of Congress produced an exhibition from these, The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated.[24] The photographs have since been the subject of many other exhibitions in the area where Prokudin-Gorsky took his photos.[25][26][27][28][29][30]
          In 2004, the Library of Congress contracted with computer scientist Blaise Agüera y Arcas to produce an automated color composite of each of the 1902 negatives from the high-resolution digital images of the glass-plate negatives. He applied algorithms to compensate for the differences between the exposures and prepared color composites of all the negatives in the collection.[12] As the library offers the high-resolution images of the negatives freely on the Internet, many others have since created their own color representations of the photos,[31] and they have become a favourite testbed for computer scientists.[32] A century after Prokudin-Gorsky explained his ambitions to the tsar, people all around the world are finally able to view his work, fulfilling his goal of showing everyone the glory of the Russian Empire.”

  8. Doni says:


    These are not color enchanced. Prokudin-Gorsky used three color filters in front of the camera to produce color photos back in 1900. More of that can be found in wikipedia etc.

  9. chemia says:

    awsome ! i love old pictures !

  10. chemia says:

    awsome ! i love old pictures ! espacialy places who im know.

  11. viktor says:

    These were originally in color. Photographer was traveling all over Russian Empire to take these. The expedition was paid for by Nicholas II.

  12. Number says:

    Not digital enhanced 1st color pictures are from 1861
    Here another photo http://uglyc.at/fok.nl/iF
    i also had my thoughts seing the colors in the river like gasoline polution,but it’s because 3 filters they used making a colorpicture

  13. SSSR says:

    Yekaterinburg 1909,that must be where the city reservoir is,and the Lenin monument with red spears over the spillway!

    Russia has some unique and colorful buildings.

  14. America says:

    These are not color photographs. They are three separate monochrome photos, each taken with a different color filter. By projecting the correct color light though each of the 3 monochrome slides a color reproduction of the original image could be shown on a screen. I’m not sure how color prints were developed by them. Today they’ve been combined digitally to look as if they were shot on color film.


    • Hans says:

      “I’m not sure how color prints were developed by them”. That’s clear you don’t know. .

      These are color prints. The technique was difficult but as that article said, these are authentic “color prints”. Beautiful and well done.

      I don’t know why it bothers you so much.

    • Ball Breaker says:

      @”America” Guy,

      These are color photographs, made by a primitive but original technique. But for your strange eyes, maybe these are sepia or whatever. Who knows what you see.

      • America says:

        “Who knows what you see”

        What we see are color digital images created in the early 21rst century by the U.S. Library of Congress, from the original black and white filtered photographs. What you will see if you look at the original photographs is 3 black and white images of each seen, each one corresponding to the color filter used for that photo. but the actual photographic plates are not in color and it takes 3 of them to reproduce a single color image. It’s really that simple.

        That’s not to say it’s not a brilliant way to capture all of the color information needed to reproduce color prints, or projections of the scenes to be viewed in color. But the actual photos he took are indeed closer to looking like a sepia print then a color one.

        • Ball Breaker says:

          Filter photos were proceesed into color plates by Prokudin. Color photos were exposed to Tsar Nicholas II and aclaimed internationally. Then LATER the Library of congress was interested in reproducing them, succesfully.

          Not only you have problems with colors, you have problems reading.

          You have a lot of problems, dude.

      • America says:

        Casually call them “color photographs” if you wish, that’s OK, but they are actually color lithographic prints or photogravures derived from monochrome photographic negative source material. There’s a difference.

        • Hans says:

          “…Yes, it’s an authentic color photography process…”. Your Words. The process make Authentic Color Photographs (and you know and read it).

          The rest of your babbling is boring spin.

    • Up all night says:

      @America: Because you’re parroting your mistake, here’s again: These are authentic color photos made with light filters and not with chemical or digital process.

      Again, very nice authentic color photography from a century ago.

    • Jack the Roofer says:


      It seems you have problems reading wikipedia. Check “Color Photography” methods, and this is one, dummy.

      • America says:

        Of course it is a method of color photography. The final prints however are either color photo lithographs, photogravures, or photochroms. But whatever dumb it down and call them “color photos” if you wish. lol

  15. Stan says:

    Beautiful pictures! But oh dear, another example of people looking at the distant past through rosy spectacles! Doesn’t anyone even begin to imagine what it was like actually living in Russia in those days as a commoner???

  16. America says:

    These are not color photographs. The originals are COLOR LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTS produced from multiple monochrome photographs. Call them a “color photograph” if you want but that’s not what the finished product is. Photography is just part of the process involved in produce the final color lithographic print.

    • Hans says:

      @America “…Yes, it’s an authentic color photography process…”. Your Words. The process made Authentic Color Photographs (and you read it and you know it).
      The rest of your babbling is boring spin to water down your embarrassment.

  17. America says:

    Screw you guys… I’m going home!

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