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    Kizhi Island

Kizhi is one of the 1650 islands of Onega Lake; it lies 68 kilometers away from Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia.

The whole island is an outdoor museum of wooden architecture, boasting the monuments of Kizhsky Pogost (Kizhi Churchyard), which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, as well as various peasant houses, household constructions and the oldest wooden church of Russia the Lazarus Resurrection Church from Murom Monastery.

The history of Kizhi dates back to 1495. Long ago this area was inhabited by Finnish tribes. The name of the island is related to the Karelian word Kizat that means (place for) public merrymaking. There is a version that from times immemorial the neighbourhood gathered together on this island for holding rites of cult here.

In 1960 Kizhi was turned into a reserve museum. Today the island is hosting numerous monuments of wooden architecture, such as log huts, chapels, windmills, etc. not only from Onega Region, but from all the corners of Karelia. From all the constructions displayed in the museum only two genuinely belong here. These are the 22-domed Transfiguration Church and the neighbouring 10-domed Protection Church, both built by Peter the Great in 1764.

The architectural and landscape exposition of the Kizhi reserve museum spreads over the island of Kizhi, adjacent territory of islands next to it, and the continental coast near Kizhi skerries, and thus covers the overall area of 10 thousand hectares.

The exposition includes three sections, namely Russian Zaonezhia, Russian Pudozhya, and Estate of Karel-livvik, along with two exposition villages, Yamka and Vasilyevo, and separate monuments of the Veps, Northern Karelians and Karel-Lyduiks. Inside the buildings the visitors can observe restored interiors, and exhibitions characterizing the traditional culture of the peoples of Karelia of the late 19th early 20th centuries.

Points of interest:

A gorgeous monument of wooden architecture, the Transfiguration of Our Lord Church (1714 ) is the most famous and eminent building of the ensemble. The church was erected on the site of the old one, which had burnt down of a thunderbolt. The names of the creators of the church remain unknown. The church 37 meters high was built following the old traditions of Russian timbering, without nails (but for the scales covering the domes they are fastened with small nails).

Protection Church is considered to be 50 years younger than the Transfiguration of Our Lord Church. Being a winter (i.e. heated) church, it is used for divine services from October 1 till Easter.

Lazarus Resurrection Church (16th c.), Archangel Mikhail Chapel, Eight-Winged Windmill (1928), Chapels of the Kizhi Necklace.

Whatever point you choose to observe the ensemble from, every time its buildings unmistakably amaze with a new fanciful and splendid combination of their silhouettes. Contrast and unity, infinite variation of volumes and unusual use of traditional devices are the major merits of this architectural miracle.

Kizhi Ensemble belongs to the best creations of the world folk architecture. It looks like it was born with a single outburst of inspiration; only thorough examination reveals that its buildings were created by several generations.

Look also: Splendour of Russian Wooden Architecture

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Kizhi Island
  (Republic of Karelia)

Cities of the region

    Petrozavodsk
    Belomorsk
    Kem
    Kostomuksha
    Segezha
    Sortavala
    Belomorsk
    Olonets
    Kondopoga


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