Kizhi Island

Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture

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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), and they have been transported to the island so that they may be preserved and be accessible to the public.

Located in the Karelia Region of Russia:

It is possible to visit Kizhi Island from Petrozavodsk, the capital city of the Karelia Region of Northern Russia.

Ferries can be taken from the city to the island, which is located on Lake Onega. During certain seasons, cruises to Kizhi can also be booked.

Petrozavodsk can be reached by train from St. Petersburg. The train travels overnight and reaches Petrozavodsk by morning.

On the UNESCO World Heritage Site List:

The complex of buildings original to Kizhi Island, the Pogost of Our Savior, is on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list. The famous Church of the Transfiguration, built in the 18th century, boasts 22 onion domes.

Villages on Kizhi Island Demonstrate Rural Life in Karelia:

A reconstructed village on Kizhi Island demonstrates traditional crafts and tasks of peasant life in the Karelia Region of Russia. Villages original to the island also exist, and some houses are still inhabited by locals. Throughout Kizhi Island are remarkable examples of wooden architecture - so, if time permits, do explore the island.

Due to Preservation Issues, Follow the Rules of Kizhi Island:

Smoking is strictly prohibited on Kizhi Island except in certain areas. This is due to the delicate nature of the wooden structures - fires have wreaked havoc in the past. In addition, do not expect to stay on Kizhi Island overnight, as this, too, is forbidden.

Instead, either plan a day trip to Kizhi or be content with the time that a guided tour will allow.

Interesting Facts about Kizhi Island:

  • Kizhi Island is home to the oldest wooden church in Russia, the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, which was built in the late 14th century.
  • While many of the buildings on Kizhi Island have stood for centuries, it was not until the mid-20th century that the Soviets decided to make Kizhi Island into an open-air museum.
  • No nails were used in the construction of the wooden architecture of Kizhi Island. Instead, pieces of wood have been notched together to form even the most intricate structures.
  • Kizhi Island is located in approximately the center of Lake Onega and spans about 6 km long.
  • A special ruble coin was issued in Russia in 1995 in honor of Kizhi Island.
  • The first churches on the island did not have onion domes, but pyramid-shaped roofs.

Book a Tour Through the Kizhi Museum:

Tours and their descriptions can be found on the official Kizhi Island Museum site. It is possible to book tours that include both the price of admission and the price of the ferry ride from Petrozavodsk. The Kizhi Island Museum was one of the first open-air museums in Russia, having opened in the mid-20th century.

Currently, 87 buildings are a part of the open-air complex, some of them containing exhibits about rural life, including farming implements, tools for the manufacture of crafts, furniture, and other items.