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The Russian Empire Revisited

A century ago, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokhudin-Gorskii traveled through the territory of the Russian Empire. Under the patronage of Tsar Nicholas II, he documented diverse people and places using an early color photography process of his own invention.

In recent years, Prokhudin-Gorskii's work became an Internet sensation when digital technology enabled the photos' restoration to crisp, colorful representations of the early 1900s. A small group of enthusiasts began tracking down the exact places captured during the photographer's travels. The following pairs of photos, separated by a century of war, revolution, and changing borders, are remarkable for how little appears to have changed in more than a hundred years.

In the early 20th century, Sergei Prokhudin-Gorskii (left) received the blessing of the tsar to take photographs across the entire Russian Empire. The well-known and obscure places where he set up his tripod are now being located by people like Shota Gujabidze (right). 1912/2010
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In the early 20th century, Sergei Prokhudin-Gorskii (left) received the blessing of the tsar to take photographs across the entire Russian Empire. The well-known and obscure places where he set up his tripod are now being located by people like Shota Gujabidze (right). 1912/2010

Church in New Ladoga, Russia. 1909/undated
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Church in New Ladoga, Russia. 1909/undated

Church in Yaroslavl, Russia. 1911/2009
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Church in Yaroslavl, Russia. 1911/2009

Church of the Nativity of Christ, Krokhino, Russia. 1909/2013
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Church of the Nativity of Christ, Krokhino, Russia. 1909/2013

The village of Dryannavo, Russia. 1912/2015
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The village of Dryannavo, Russia. 1912/2015

Railroad tracks near the town of Kondopoga, Russia. 1916/2012
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Railroad tracks near the town of Kondopoga, Russia. 1916/2012

A bend in the Chusovaya River near the village of Sloboda, Russia. 1912/2011
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A bend in the Chusovaya River near the village of Sloboda, Russia. 1912/2011

Nilov Monastery in Tver, Russia. 1910/2010
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Nilov Monastery in Tver, Russia. 1910/2010

Vitebsk, Belarus. 1912/2012
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Vitebsk, Belarus. 1912/2012

Monument to Peter the Great in Veskovo, Russia. 1911/2008
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Monument to Peter the Great in Veskovo, Russia. 1911/2008

Tiles on the Cathedral of the Venerable Monastery in Suzdal, Russia. 1912/2009
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Tiles on the Cathedral of the Venerable Monastery in Suzdal, Russia. 1912/2009

Railway in Perm, Russia. 1909/2012
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Railway in Perm, Russia. 1909/2012

A street corner in Ostashkov, Russia. 1910/2010
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A street corner in Ostashkov, Russia. 1910/2010

The cathedral in Mozhaisk, Russia. 1911/2008
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The cathedral in Mozhaisk, Russia. 1911/2008

Another view of the cathedral in Mozhaisk. 1911/2010
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Another view of the cathedral in Mozhaisk. 1911/2010

Torzhok, Russia. 1910/2010
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Torzhok, Russia. 1910/2010

Dmitrievskii Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia. 1911/2009
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Dmitrievskii Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia. 1911/2009

A fresco in the Church of St. John Chrysostom in Yaroslavl, Russia. 1911/2011
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A fresco in the Church of St. John Chrysostom in Yaroslavl, Russia. 1911/2011

The Kremlin of Rostov Veliky, Russia. 1911/2009
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The Kremlin of Rostov Veliky, Russia. 1911/2009

Ferapontov Monastery, near Mozhaisk, Russia. 1911/2010
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Ferapontov Monastery, near Mozhaisk, Russia. 1911/2010

Another view of the Ferapontov Monastery. 1911/2012
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Another view of the Ferapontov Monastery. 1911/2012

A palace in Borodino, Russia. 1911/2012
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A palace in Borodino, Russia. 1911/2012

Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia. 2011/2015
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Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia. 2011/2015

Nilov Monastery in Tver, Russia. 1910/2010
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Nilov Monastery in Tver, Russia. 1910/2010

Another view of Nilov Monastery. 1910/2010
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Another view of Nilov Monastery. 1910/2010

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