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Russian North: Kiy Island
January 31, 2019 22:49


Kiy Island is located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, 202 km west of Arkhangelsk. The nearest settlement on the mainland is the town of Onega. The length of the island is 2 km, the maximum width is 500 m.

The nature of the island is really breathtaking: pines on the rocks, a huge variety of plants, including berries, boundless sea, rich in fish and a habitat for many species of marine animals and birds. Numerous layers of granite come to the surface of the island, the height of the rocks of which reaches 25 m.

Every year the international jazz festival “Warm sounds of the north” takes place here.

How to get there:

There is an airport in Onega where planes from Arkhangelsk fly once a week. The "Arkhangelsk - Onega" train No. 671 runs daily, from Onega to Kiy. Check the info on boats in the local office by phone: (81839) 2-17-27, 2-19-75. In winter, when strong ice appears, it is possible to walk to Kiy,  however, it is not really safe.

Since 1924, the island has been hosting the Kiysky rest house (+7 818 39 7 1727, +7 921 297 8201), where up to 200 guests can simultaneously stay. There is a small sandy beach on the island. In summer, the water off the coast sometimes warms up to 20 degrees.

On the southern part of the island in the second half of the 17th century, by the personal initiative of Patriarch Nikon,  the Holy Monastery was founded, which became the spiritual center of Onega County. The construction of the architectural ensemble of the monastery took almost 40 years. A wooden Vozdvizhenskaya church was erected first in the monastery  (it was demolished in the early 18th century). First buildings on the territory were made of wood and later the traditional architecture was not forgotten either, despite the fact that the main buildings began to be built of stone. Located on a compact territory, the monastery organically blends into the rocky relief of the island. In 1923, the monastery was liquidated, arranging a base for a children's boarding school there. The secondary consecration of the main chapel of the cathedral church of the Monastery of the Cross took place on August 30, 1991, on the day of remembrance of Patriarch Nikon. Today, the monastery receives pilgrims from all over Russia.

Many of the buildings of that time have survived till present:

Holy Cross Cathedral (1657–1661) is a gloomy building with the only remaining head of the three, towering on a precipitous granite rock. The upper parts of its walls are made of granite, and the lower ones are white-stone. 

The superimposed church of the Origin of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord (1661) with adjacent stone cells of the 18th century. In 1870–1871 during the renovation of the temple, two white-stone slabs were installed in the shape of a four-pointed cross with extended ends - one of them shows a cross with the tools of passion on Golgotha, and the other - a text about the founding and consecration of the monastery by Patriarch Nikon. 

The bunk church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1689) with a refectory and Kelar chambers, a massive bell tower and a tomb. The wooden church of All Saints, consecrated by Patriarch Nikon in 1661, and now remade into a dwelling so that it is almost impossible to recognize the most ancient wooden structure on the territory of the monastery in it. 

A small fragment of a wooden monastery fence with a tetrahedral tower (1871). During the fire of 1855, the fence burned down, but it was rebuilt in the old place. Such wooden fortifications are a unique for the Russian North.

Two-storey wooden monastery with mezzanine (1871).

Two-story wooden fraternal building (1903).


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: ecotourism travel to Russia    

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