Kizhi Pogost is a historical site dating from the 17th century on Kizhi island. The pogost is the area inside a fence which includes two large wooden churches (the 22-dome Transfiguration Church and the 9-dome Intercession Church) and a bell-tower. The pogost is famous for its beauty and longevity, despite that it is built exclusively of wood. In 1990, it was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and in 1993 listed as a Russian Cultural Heritage site.
The Church of the Transfiguration is the most remarkable part of the pogost. It is not heated and is therefore called a summer church and does not hold winter services. Its altar was laid June 6, 1714, as inscribed on the cross located inside the church. This church was built on the site of the old one which was burnt by lightning.
The church has 22 domes and with a height of 37 meters is one of the tallest wooden buildings of the Russian North. According to the Russian carpentry traditions of that time, the Transfiguration Church was built of wood only with no nails. All structures were made of scribe-fitted horizontal logs, with interlocking corner joinery — either round notch or dovetail — cut by axes. The basis of the structure is the octahedral frame with four two-stage side attachments. The eastern prirub has a pentagonal shape and contains the altar. Two smaller octagons of similar shape are mounted on top of the main octagon. The structure is covered in 22 domes of different size and shape, which run from the top to the sides. The refectory is covered with a three-slope roof. In the 19th century, the church was decorated with batten and some parts were covered with steel. It was restored to its original design in the 1950s.
The iconostasis has four levels and contains 102 icons. It is dated to the second half of the 18th – early 19th century. The icons are from three periods: the two oldest icons, 'The Transfiguration' and 'Pokrov' are from the late 17th century and are typical of the northern style. The central icons are from the second half of the 18th century and are also of the local style. Most icons of the three upper tiers are of the late 18th century, brought from various parts of Russia.
The Church of the Intercession is a heated winter church. The church was the first on the island after a fire in the late 17th century destroyed all previous churches. It was first built in 1694 as a single-dome structure, then reconstructed in 1720–1749 and in 1764 rebuilt into its present 9-dome design as an architectural echo of the main Transfiguration Church. There are nine domes, one larger in the center, surrounded by eight smaller ones. Decoration is scant. A high single-part porch leads into the four interior parts of the church. As in the Transfiguration Church, the altar is placed in the eastern part shaped as a pentagon. The original iconostasis was replaced at the end of the 19th century and is lost; it was rebuilt in the 1950s to the original style.
The original bell-tower rapidly deteriorated and was rebuilt in 1862 and further reconstructed in 1874 and 1900. The fence was built in the 17th century as a protective measure against Swedish and Polish incursions. It was reconstructed in the 1950s as a 300-meter-long log structure surrounding the two churches and the belfry. The structure rests on a tall boulder basement. The main entrance is 14.4 meters wide and 2.25 meters tall, and faces east near the Church of the Intercession. There are wicket gates at the eastern and northern sides and a small wooden tower in the north-western corner. The tower has a square base and a four-slope batten roof with a spire. The walls, gates and wickets are also roofed.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.