Kizhi churchyard. Attractions in Karelia

Kizhi churchyard. Attractions in Karelia
Kizhi churchyard. Attractions in Karelia

What Russian hasn't heard of Kizhi Pogost, Kizhi? Of course, associations familiar from childhood immediately arise: a museum of the unique peasant culture of the Russian North, a complex of original Russian log churches, the walls of which were built without nails. The unique architectural ensemble of churches of the 18th century, built on a wooden island, is considered a World Cultural Heritage Site according to UNESCO criteria. It should be recognized that nowhere else in Russia have such significant structures-works of folk wooden architecture been preserved (although they were quite numerous in the 19th century).

karelia kizhi island

It is typical that people who are poorly familiar with the history of Karelia, as a rule, are perplexed by the name of the museum. “And where does the word graveyard come into play?” - the young man will ask, admiring the arched wooden entrances, the ribbed log walls, the magnificent scaly domes. "That's not what it's about!" - we will answer with the words of Zhvanetsky. We are talking about the original Old Russian meaning of this ancient word. On Karelian land in the 13th-15th centuries, this was once the name given to the administrative center, which spontaneously stood out in relation to several dozen or evenhundreds of surrounding villages. And it is precisely this content that corresponds to the status of Kizhi as the center of the vast Spassky Kizhi Pogost.

Further on, the aforementioned concept began to shrink and change its original meaning. It "grown", as a characteristic, to a large village (not necessarily an administrative center, but with its own church and cemetery.) And only from the end of the 18th century did they begin to call a lonely church with a cemetery near it.

Kizhi is a national, communal phenomenon

As history testifies, the Kizhi churchyard united about 130 roundabout villages. Moreover, the largest of them - Velikaya Guba, Kosmozero, Sennaya Guba, Tipinitsy - are currently active settlements. Today's Karelia is rich in such historical villages. The sights of local architecture are purely folk know-how. Until the 18th century, the decision to build on this land was made by no means by state authorities, but by the community, part of which were merchants - the main patrons of the arts. The best folk craftsmen undertook the construction of temples for the villages that had shown them confidence. These were, as a rule, people "with a concept" and with a name in construction, building as if they were singing a song. Only their goal was not the approval of the jury or some kind of casting. No, they had a much more valuable incentive: popular respect, unmistakably celebrating the most deserving. This period - the stage of "communal architecture" - can be called the heyday of Russian wooden architecture.

kizhi churchyard

The original nature of Karelia

Original landscapes and picturesque landscapesKarelia is famous. The sights of this region are widely known. The local nature is called hard-stone and lake-forest. The taiga grows from the local rocky soil. The property of Karelia is one of the most significant lakes in Europe - Ladoga with a pool area of ​​17,700 km2 and Onega (9900 m2).

Less than 70 kilometers from its capital, the city of Petrozavodsk, washed by the waters of Lake Onega, is the island of Kizhi (in the old Russian "Kizhi" means "games".) The nearest village on the way to the architectural museum, territorially related to the Medvezhiegorsk -well, the village of Velikaya Guba.

Welcome to Kizhi

karelia attractions

Every day this architectural museum is open for everyone to visit it: in summer from eight to eight, in winter - from 1000 to 1600. Historically, the island of Kizhi can be called a cult place that was used to celebrate festive Christian rites. Peasants gathered here on holidays, and then they held festivities.

Island nature harmoniously complements the works of human hands, charming visitors with the intricacies of rocky islands with blue bays between them. If you use the services of cartography, you can see: Kizhi on the map of Russia is not connected to the mainland by roads. However, the island, thanks to water transport, is widely accessible. Hundreds of thousands of Russian and foreign tourists visit this amazing place every year. By the way, the historical and architectural complex of Kizhi is the very first museum underopen air, open in Russia.

If you decide on a boat cruise from St. Petersburg to the capital of ancient architecture, you will get a map of Kizhi Island as a gift. From May to December, you can get here on "meteors" and "comets" departing from Petrozavodsk from the Water Station.

Between navigations, tourists from Upper Guba (which can be reached by car) are delivered by entrepreneurs' boats. In the non-navigational period, when the lake is ice-bound, extreme-seekers use skis and exotic transport - dog sleds to cross.

Russian hospitality

Guests arriving on the island have the opportunity to choose one of three options for two-hour excursions. The first one is for the main architectural complex (small circle). The idea of ​​the second is a review of Russian and Karelian folk wooden architecture (large circle). The third introduces the villages of the island. In the local villages, there are three exposition sites "Pryazha Karely", "Russian Zaonezhie", "Russian Pudozhya". The historical villages of Vasilyevo and Yamka also have unique architectural structures.

kizhi karelia excursions

The administration of the museum also organized numerous additional sightseeing, interactive, thematic excursions for all visitors to Kizhi. Architecture, of course, is the main attraction here for tourists, not only Russian, but also from abroad. By the way, the ancient religious buildings of the island, starting from the 50s of the last century, were supplemented by restored and reconstructedlog buildings necessary for housekeeping. Therefore, in addition to the main exhibition, visitors can see the environment in which the spiritual and economic life of the peasants took place on this island. For a deeper immersion in the life of the Russian village of the XVII - XVIII centuries, the administration of the museum-reserve organizes "Days of crafts, folk fun and games", there is a folklore and ethnographic theater, a fair of handicrafts, and at the end of summer the Kizhi regatta starts.

Folk wooden architecture is the heritage of Karelia

kizhi architecture

Kizhi, as one of the largest architectural museum-reserves in Russia, is very proud of Karelia. The sights of folk Russian architecture of this region, however, are not determined only by the above-mentioned exposition; here they are also represented on the island of Lake Ladoga (Valaam Monastery). It was once visited by Russian emperors. Alexandre Dumas père paid a visit there. Many great Russian artists (Vasiliev, Kuinzhi, Shishkin), poets and writers (Tyutchev, Leskov, Shmelev) drew inspiration here. In a word, a map of Karelia with sights (and not only architecture - there are also nature reserves and national parks here) will help sightseers choose the program they are interested in.

Ensemble of churches

However, back to the main topic of our article. The uniqueness of the Kizhi churchyard is determined by the world's only multi-domed Transfiguration Church, built in the traditional way for Russia - without a single nail. Next to her for the performance of services in the wintertime (north after all) there is another multi-domed temple, heated - the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin. The third most important building of the magnificent ensemble is the hipped bell tower of the Kizhi churchyard. A fence around these three objects of Russian folk architecture has now been restored, but not from logs, as it was originally, but from boulders.

Historically, a high powerful fence was an indispensable attribute of the Russian churchyard bordering Sweden. A single system with the above buildings is made up of other watchtowers - the chapels of Kizhi Island, located in iconic places of the surrounding island relief.

The legend of the architect Nestor

The story about this amazing lacy wood architecture still wants to start with a legend. After all, the Kizhi churchyard is a land of legends, one of which introduces us to a man of amazing talent who created a real man-made miracle - an amazing 22-domed temple. The ancient builders who erected it had neither "glorious genealogical trees" nor state statuses. Erased in the thickness of the centuries and their biographies, and surnames. But the name of the amazing Russian master Nestor still came down to us.

According to folk legend, he himself determined the site for the construction of the Church of the Transfiguration, ignoring the instructions brought to him, choosing a site right in the middle of juniper thickets. Here, breaking through the thickets (inscrutable ways of creativity), bypassing the Kizhi churchyard, he discovered a holy book, reading which he spent day and night.

In the rays of the rising sun, the master, taking his eyes off the bookpages, right in the middle of the dew drops on the grass, he noticed a drawing of the future temple … Then he announced, as he cut it off: “We will build here!”

kizhi churchyard karelia

When the miraculous church was built from specially prepared boards of pine, spruce, aspen without the use of nails, the admiring Nestor committed an eccentric act, as if summing up the acquired professionalism. On the eve of the consecration of his offspring, he climbed onto the dome with his faithful consecrated ax, looked around the Kizhi churchyard, tied a scarlet ribbon on the cross. Then he threw the ax into the lake and said that the Church of the Transfiguration is the most beautiful temple in the world, and there will never be anything like it. In the future, the architect did not build more temples, despite numerous requests. So he decided to leave creativity on the highest note. Isn't that what a real Master should do?

Church of the Transfiguration

This 37-meter temple, founded in 1714, is classified as an octagonal tiered church. It was built to replace the wooden church of its predecessor, which burned down from a lightning strike. The base of the building is an "octagon" - an octagonal frame with four holes, directed in all directions of the world. On top of the lower "octagon" two more are placed, but smaller in diameter. The lower frame is located on a primitive foundation - a stone fence. The outer corners were cut "into the oblo", the inner ones - "in the paw" of pine. Ploughshares and "barrels" of the domes are made of aspen. All of these are local wood species growing on the island of Kizhi. Karelia is also famous for its special iconography of the “Northern script”. In this techniquea pair of the earliest icons of the Church of the Transfiguration (“Protection” and “Transfiguration”, XVII century) were made, which were the first to decorate the altar, located in the eastern hole and having the shape of a pentagon. It is four-tiered and decorated with one hundred and two icons.

kizhi churchyard

The refectory in the form of a log house adjoins the main building. The roofs of holes and octagonal houses are decorated with twenty-two domes. The outlines of this building are familiar to every inhabitant of the Republic of Karelia. Kizhi Island is literally inspired by this church, equally beautiful from all sides.

Church of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary

This temple was created half a century later, following the Transfiguration Church - in 1764. The idea of ​​its construction is to continue the cycle of Orthodox services for the winter season (the church is heated). Its building was erected by folk architects as a natural continuation of the architecture of the summer temple. It is multi-domed: its eight chapters are located around the ninth, the main one. However, in all its appearance it is felt that this temple is an architectural reflection of Preobrazhensky. With its rather refined elements, it only echoes, emphasizes the originality of the dominant architectural complex.

This church on the island of Kizhi is built in a more pragmatic and austere style. It is decorated, perhaps, only with a pediment belt, which has a jagged structure.

kizhi architecture

The entrance to the temple is traditionally located on the western side, respectively, the altar is on the eastern side. Those who enter find themselves first in the entrance hall, then in the refectory. The purpose of this room isseparating a place for a secular conversation of the flock about pressing economic and other matters, which makes it possible to reach a significant number of people. Jury trials took place here, the decrees of the king were announced. It is followed, in fact, by the very premises of the temple, intended for the performance of a prayer service - a prayer house. It is the most spacious and capacious, its volume is formed by log cabins, connected according to the scheme below - "four", at the top - "octagon". It is equipped with a table iconostasis. The altar is arranged as the fourth, easternmost room. It is a pentagonal frame, in the continuation of the height of which an elongated structure is built - a barrel, ending with the ninth chapter of the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin. There are windows in all rooms of the temple: in the hallway and the altar - two; in the chapel and refectory - four (for natural light). The interior decoration is decorated with sawn through carving, the central element of which is an Orthodox cross.


The architectural ensemble of the Kizhi Pogost is harmoniously complemented by a third building - a hipped bell tower. The scheme of its construction is traditional for wooden architecture: “four” from below, “octagon” from above. Its internal structure is divided into three tiers (by means of ceilings). "Chetverik" is cut from the north and south by entrances, each of which is equipped with a porch. From the east and west there are arched pseudo-portals, repeating the shape of the existing ones. The lower tier, "chetverik", is divided into a vestibule, a five-flight staircase and a closet. Above the "octagon" there is a bell tower, inside of which there are 9 pillars. The building is crowned with a share cupola withOrthodox cross on top.

kizhi architecture

Ongoing restoration

Kizhi Pogost is currently undergoing restoration dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Church of the Transfiguration, celebrated in 2014. By this time, about 70% of the project has already been completed. The end of it is planned in 3-4 years. Vitaly Skopin is in charge of the architectural center "Zaonezhie", which performs the work. Together with this company, the museum's carpentry center and the St. Petersburg company "Alekon" also work. Last year, the UNESCO commission, which arrived at the work site, highly appreciated their quality, qualifying it as international, which inspired the workers.

Earlier, the church was reinforced with a metal frame. Which, in fact, saved her from destruction. First, the builders strengthened the foundation and the lower belts, the largest, because there is a refectory at their level. Currently, work is being carried out at the fourth-fifth levels. Builders preserve historical logs whenever possible, replacing only those that have failed as a result of rotting or erosion with new ones. There are only 35% of them, which means that the restored Church of the Transfiguration will consist of 65% of the historical tree.


The ancient center of the Spassky Kizhi churchyard, located on the rather compact island of Kizhi, is now undergoing a revival. The reason for this is the growing awareness by society of the importance of preserving continuity, historical heritage, after all, its roots.

map of karelia with sights

How was it formedthe spirituality of Zaonezhie, the morality of the people who inhabit it? Of course, in line with the creative civilizational factor, which later the great Pushkin called extremely succinctly - "the Russian spirit"..

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