Kizhi is an island near the geometrical center of the Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. It is elongated from north to south and is about 6 km long, 1 km wide and is about 68 km away from the capital of Karelia, Petrozavodsk. Settlements and churches on the island were known from at least the 15th century.
Blessed with one of the most picturesque ensembles of Russian wooden churches, the Lake Onega island Kizhi provides the most scenic destination on Russia’s greatest waterway, the Volga. Situated in the geographical center of Europe’s second largest lake, Kizhi has long since been a strategic stopover for travelers.
At one point in the 16th century, the island was declared a pogost (or parish center) by the Russian Orthodox Church and produced lumber and iron in an economy that sustained over 100 villages. After a two-year rebellion was quelled in 1771, Kizhi’s importance waned until finally in the 1950s the island was almost forgotten. Most of the inhabitants left, all of the original villages disappeared, leaving behind impressive wooden relics.
Today, this collection of traditional log structures, centered on two churches and a bell tower set in an enclosure still called the Kizhi Pogost, lives on as one of Russia’s greatest open-air museums. The pogost, as well as the other buildings from the region that were left behind, were augmented in the 1960s and restored within this newly established reserve for historical wooden buildings.
The buildings were set in 3 special sectors, named after the regions that the structures came from: North Karelia, Karelia, and Pudozhsky. Moreover, the island was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990.
- The Kizhi Open Air Museum is a World Heritage site and one of the most unmissable greatest cultural attractions in Russia. The island contains some 83 relocated buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries, each one elaborately crafted out of wood
- The crown jewel of Khizi is the Transfiguration Church, an architectural masterpiece featuring a chorus of wooden domes, gables and ingenious decorations designed to keep water off the walls. Built without using a single nail, it has withstood the elements for over 150 years
- Kivach State Nature Reserve is a provides vitally protected habitat for Karelia’s primordial forest, home to 197 bird species, 48 mammals and the rare Karelian birch. Walk to the towering Kivach waterfall the second highest plain waterfall in Europe
- Ruskeala Mountain Park is a former marble quarry. Centuries of dynamiting created a massive, 109m wide canyon that filled with emerald-hued water from underground springs. A spectacular sight, best viewed on a boat trip between the steep canyon walls, riddled with caves and grottoes
- Stop in at the incredibly picturesque ancient village of Kinerma, a 17 house hamlet of just a few families, said to be the most beautiful village in Russia. Visit Kinerma’s 16th century chapel, before dinner with our local hosts.
The most remarkable monument of ancient wooden architecture is the Kizhi ensemble – a group of small islands in the skerries of the southern part of the Zaonezhye region, on one of which the pogost of Kizhi (i.e. the Kizhi enclosure) is located.
The architectural ensemble of Kizhi has served as the foundation for an open-air museum well-known throughout the world. The most significant monuments of old wooden architecture have been moved to this place. Old buildings that were distorted by renovation were restored to their original appearance.
Note: All images and information used here are only for information purpose. Fashtrip is a not-for-profit website. Please write to us to add or remove any particular information or images.