The region around Kargopol was known for its salt wealth, which funded the construction of the town’s unique white stone churches. Among the many treasures of the historic Russian north, one of the richest is the town of Kargopol, located in the southwestern part of Arkhangelsk Region. Despite the town’s small size (current population 10,000), the majestic beauty of its central cathedral ensemble is testimony to its importance in bygone times. To this day there is disagreement on when Kargopol was founded and what its name means. Yet it is considered to be one of the oldest northern settlements, founded perhaps as early as the 11th century.. The earliest historical reference to Kargopol is a mention of its Prince Gleb, who fought under Grand Prince Dmitrii during Moscow’s victorious struggle against the Mongols in 1380. Subsequent references to the town occur sparsely in mid-15th century documents. The town's oldest, and most important, architectural monument, the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ, begun in 1552 and completed 10 years later.