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.

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Kizhi, Russia
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Founded: 1714
Category: Religious sites in Russia

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User Reviews

Harold Chase (12 months ago)
I was searching for a spot in the St. petersburg area online and decided to look for Kizhi, just out of curiosity --- I visited this place back in 1973... Yes, that's 47 years ago!! I was in high school at the time, and taking part in a Russian language study summer trip! This was one of several excursions while I was staying in Leningrad (St. Petersburg!) Back in the cold war era..!!! Anyway, seeing all the online photos now sure brought back some memories! I remember seeing those wooden churches with such amazing detail, and wondering how and why they were built. Going by the recent photos, it looks like this place has been well maintained, which is good. If you find yourself in the area for any reason, this is a worthwhile side trip.
Matthew Schmidt (14 months ago)
My kids loved this place:)
Sissi Tursi (2 years ago)
Wonderful place. Unesco World Heritage site.
Alessandro Amorati (2 years ago)
This open air museum is really great and well organized. You arrive here by ship and then you stay there for 4 hours before return. The 1st 2 hours you have a guide, also in english, the other 2 hours you are free to do whatever you want. There is also a restaurant there and souvenir shops. The main church is still closed for reconstruction.
Jalwin Johnson (2 years ago)
Wooden architecture can be found throughout Russia, but Kizhi Island boasts some of the nation's most famous, and most intricate, examples. These structures on Kizhi Island date from various centuries (the oldest from the 14th 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.
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