Saint Sophia Cathedral is an Orthodox church, the oldest surviving building in the city of Vologda, one of the largest buildings of the Ivan the Terrible epoch (along with the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat in Moscow, the Assumption Cathedral of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and others).
The Cathedral was built in 1568 - 1570 under supervision of Ivan the Terrible. Cathedrals like Sophia are very characteristic of Russian architecture of the 16th century and belong to the most common types of urban and monastery cathedrals. St. Sophia Cathedral resembles the image and likeness of the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The cathedral is located in the central part of the city, on the high bank of the Vologda River, in the immediate vicinity of the Vologda Kremlin and performs an important town-planning function as the culminating element of the city oldest square - Kremlyovskaya.
St. Sophia Cathedral is an integral ensemble where architecture, monumental painting (1686-1688) and the iconostasis complex (1724-1737) constitute an organic synthesis of arts. In 1686 - 1688, the talented Yaroslavl artist Dmitry Plekhanov "with thirty comrades” painted St. Sophia Cathedral. At the oprichnina time the cathedral walls saw terrible black horsemen with dog heads tied to their saddle bows, "Polish and Lithuanian people" who seized Vologda in September 1612 and were destroying the city streets. The cathedral heard praying of the future prelate Ignaty Bryanchaninov, the emperors Peter I, Alexander I and Alexander II, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and many other famous people of Vologda and Russia. Within the time the cathedral has become a symbol of the city that witnessed its whole history.