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The Beautiful Wooden Churches of Lyadiny

Located around 25 miles from Kargopol in the Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia, the village of Lyadiny is home to a number of superbly constructed historic wooden buildings, some of which were built centuries ago. These include the Church of the Intercession and the Church of the Epiphany, built in 1761 and 1793 respectively, and a wooden bell tower built in 1920. The three buildings are grouped quite close together and stand on the site of an ancient cemetery. The village itself has less than a hundred permanent residents, with villagers having moved to larger centers over the years, as has been the case with many villages in northern Russia.

The churches in Lyadiny were built with a large church for summer and a smaller church that would be easier to heat for the winter months. The exterior of the Church of the Epiphany is clad in dark-colored planks with stout pine logs ascending to a cupola, while on the ground level of the interior two gigantic log columns support the floor of the space above where worshipers would gather after ascending a narrow staircase. The vestibule has clean whitewashed walls, with an icon screen (Iconostasis) intricately decorated and featuring the Crucifixion. The most striking feature of the room, however, is the painted ceiling representing heaven, which is a distinctive characteristic of log churches in northern Russia. A combination of art and skillful architecture, these representations of heaven generally consist of flat beams in a polygonal form rising to an elevated ring in the center of the ceiling. The painted panels are laid upon the frame created by the beams, remaining there without being fastened. The ceiling at the Church of the Epiphany consists of twelve triangular panels depicting the apostles Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and archangels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Varakhiel, Yegudiel and Selafiel.

Recently consecrated for worship following a long period of being closed, the Church of the Intercession is also beautifully decorated, and although many have been abandoned, the village of Lyadiny has a number of expertly crafted wooden houses which will be of interest to visitors who appreciate the history and culture of northern Russia.


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