Discover the Wooden Wonders of Kizhi

The breathtaking island of Kizhi can best be described as an open-air museum of staggering proportions. It is surrounded by thousands of small islands that were home to various villages centuries ago, but the island of Kizhi steals the show. Over the years, new exhibits have been relocated to the island and the island has become increasingly popular as a destination in Russia that fascinates and astounds more visitors each year.

The island of Kizhi is located in Lake Onega and has been listed as a World Heritage Site, due to its architectural significance. It covers a seven-kilometer area in length and has a width of 0.5 kilometers, and the entire area that includes the smaller islands is known as the Kizhi Pogost. It might sound strange that an island with a church has drawn so much attention, but it is the fact that all the structures on the island have been carved from wood that makes this site a historical masterpiece and an absolutely breathtaking sight to behold.

It has been documented that the Church of Transfiguration was constructed between the years 1714 to 1722. This is a wooden architectural feat that exhibits no less than twenty-two domes. During 1764, a smaller church, the Church of the Intercession, was constructed near the Church of Transfiguration. Even though this structure is not as overwhelming as its neighbor, it still proudly displays nine domes and a rare example of the craftsmanship and talent possessed by the constructors of these masterpieces. The last piece of this amazing collection of wooden structures was added in 1874, the bell tower. From the walls, to the roofs, the domes and interiors and even the joints, nails and “metal” ties, all were carved from wood. There is not a trace of metal throughout these buildings.

The decision to protect this rich heritage was made by the Soviet Government in the year 1960 and since then, many other wooden marvels, such as the Muromsky Monastery that was located at the St. Lazarus Church, has been moved here for visitors to view, and for protection. The Kizhi Museum was also founded on the island, to exhibit displays, provide information and take visitors on fascinating tours of all the structures on the island. Tourists from as far as America, Italy and France have come to look at these churches, with guides that are able to speak various languages and audio assistance is available in English, Italian, Turkish, French, Russian, Spanish and German. The museum has more than eighty architectural displays and over thirty thousand artifacts.

The conservation of these truly unique and historical structures calls for a permanent compliment of staff. Once on the island, it is easy to understand how Kizhi has become such a popular destination in Russia, and see the importance of preserving these wonders created from nature.


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