Fast Facts

  • Location: On the banks of the Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia.
  • Attraction Type: Island
  • Significance: Island with wooden architecture.
  • Best time to Visit: Summer
  • Visiting Hours: Island closes down the latest by 4:25 even in summer. It is even sooner in the winter. Openings are dependent upon the season.
  • How to Reach: Hydrofoil or helicopter ride from Petrozavodsk In winter snowmobiles from Petrozavodsk will help you get there. Charter boat service from Moscow and St. Petersburg are also there.
  • Nearest Airport: Peski Airport

Kizhi is a tiny place on the banks of the Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. However, it is big when it comes to heritage and architecture. The Kizhi Pogost or the Kizhi enclosure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A small island, only 0.5 km across and 7 km long is home to churches, chapels and houses all made out of wood. A walled enclosure contains wooden windmills, boathouses, fish houses, saunas granaries. It is truly a sight to behold.

However, the jewel of the enclosure is the massive 37m tall Transfiguration Church built-in 1714. One of the most striking features that you will notice is the glittering portraits on the large iconostasis. There is actually gold leaf in there and you will be forgiven if you get a bit dazzled by the enormous structure. Look further and you will see the Intercession church with its nine domes. Further is the belltower built-in 1874. This is really a marvel. It is made without any nails and the dovetail or notch fittings of the logs were made by simple saws. It is said that the logs came from the forests on the mainland and had to be transported over the lake—-which would have been quite a feat. Some of the structures even came from a 14th century Church of St. Lazarus.

The Kizhi enclosure can aptly be said to be one of the most important examples of wooden architecture in Russia. Do not miss it, it is worth the journey.

Things to Do:
The Kizhi enclosure is a small place. However, there are quite a few things to do. Take your time appreciating the painstaking artistry at the Transfiguration Church. The nine domes of the Intercession church will also make you stop and wonder the skill of the artists who made it. If you are of the engineering bent of mind, you cannot help but marvel at the belltower.

Other Activities:
Stop by the museum of Russian Wooden Architecture. The Russians consider this enclosure one of their crown jewels and with good reason. They have tried to preserve this heritage in the museum which they built-in 1960.

There is no accommodation on Kizhi Island. Overnight staying arrangements can be made at Petrozavodsk. There are very few options available here too.

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