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Russian Lakes: The Heritage of Kizhi

Russia never ceases to amaze a traveler with a penchant for history! Products of highly developed communities from medieval times are so well preserved that you can almost travel back in time! The tapestry of styles and cultures, all woven in to a single modern nation, simply takes your breath away!

The Karelia region in Northern Russia is one of the most fascinating in the country. The enormous Lake Onega, which you could easily mistake for a sea, houses a large number of islands. Some of them housed agrarian and devout communities between the 14th and 19th centuries. Their cultural expressions and technological achievements are quite staggering, and show them to be far ahead of their contemporaries in the rest of Europe, Asia, and the other continents.

Kizhi is the most fascinating of these islands. It is an extraordinary exposition of wooden architecture. Churches are the most spectacular structures. The most amazing thing is that these massive structures have stood for hundreds of years, though no nail or other metal support has been used anywhere! The harsh climate at this latitude means that the vegetation makes for a stark landscape, and shows the fruits of human construction in even more ethereal light.

Kizhi also shows The Communists of the Soviet era in new light. The Kizhi Museum was built as late as in 1966. Its open layout sets it apart from any other collection of the medieval world. The artifacts have been collated with both love and scholarship. The amenities for visitors are superb and most professional.

The town of Petrozavodsk is the best base for a Kizhi trip. There is a water transport ferry from here to the island. The town has a splendid collection of unique architecture. The streets and squares are generously sprinkled with statues and public sculptures of the best quality. The settlement was established during the reign of Peter the Great, and is replete with the flavors of those times. We also see in this city, the invasive nature of the Finnish people, who we may know to be quite peaceable otherwise! Petrozavodsk has been invaded and occupied by Finland. The earth surrounding the town yields the famous and colored limestone of which some of Moscow’s best known structures are made. There is also one of the Spas which are so characteristic of this land.


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