Kizhi Pogost (1990)
Russia

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The pogost of Kizhi (i.e. the Kizhi enclosure) is located on one of the many islands in Lake Onega, in Karelia. Two 18th-century wooden churches, and an octagonal clock tower, also in wood and built in 1862, can be seen there. These unusual constructions, in which carpenters created a bold visionary architecture, perpetuate an ancient model of parish space and are in harmony with the surrounding landscape.

If you visit St. Petersburg you are so close to Karelia, that a visit to the wooden churches in Kizhi are a must.  On the eastern coast of Lake Onega (north east of Lake Ladoga) you are already in Karelia, famous for its stern and magnificent northern beauty.  

Russia. Photograph of Kizhi Church

Earlier it was called "subcapital Siberia", a reference to this region of peaceful birds, blue lakes, bubbling rivers and innumerable islands overgrown with woods. 

Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia, is located approximately 300 km from St. Petersburg on the most westerly bay of Lake Onega, the second biggest in Europe after Lake Ladoga. 

68 km from Petrozavodsk lies the island of Kizhi, not the biggest, but the most famous of all the 1,650 islands in Lake Onega.  

  • Church of the Transfiguration, Kizhi, built of wood without using nails. 

In Karelian language the name of the island means "playground".  In heathen days celebrations took place here.  Later Kizhi became an ecclesiastical center, and in the 18th century, to commemorate the victory over the Swedes, the wooden Church of the Transfiguration, and of the Protecting Veil of the Most Holy Mother of God were built here. In 1960, a museum-cum-nature reserve was created near Kizhi.  

  • USSR 1968. Kizhi Church. 

  • Russia 1993. Definitive stamp. Idem. 

Russia 1968. Kizhi Church. Russia 1993. Definitive stamp. Kizhi Church.

The uniqueness of the buildings lies in the fact that they were built without nails.  The craftsmen, moreover, used only the simplest tools - with a carpenter's axe and chisel they fitted the logs together in such a way that the solidity of the buildings was ensured.  The main attraction is the 22-domed Church of the Transfiguration.  Who exactly the builder was is not known.  Legend attributes the glory to Nestor, who, the story goes, threw his axe into Onega Lake when he had finished the construction work with the words:  "This church was built by the master Nestor.  There never has been and never will be anything like it evermore". 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Russia (on this web site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Russia-section, for further information on such sites. 

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Revised 26 sep 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
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