Exploring Kizhi Island, Russia with Volga Dream

by | Jan 2, 2019 | Russia, Wanderlust Travel Diary | 0 comments

We were now at the most northern part of our adventures through rural Russia with Volga Dream and Cox & Kings in the centre of Europe’s largest lake to stop at another UNESCO world heritage site, Kizhi Island. This open-air museum founded in 1951 is now a favourite tourist attraction. It may be only 7 km by 0.5 km, but it is home to some of the most striking traditional Russian architecture and some of the world’s finest wooden buildings.

Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus

Wooden architecture can be found throughout Russia, but Kizhi Island boasts some of the nation’s most famous, and most intricate examples that have become a UNESCO world heritage site. It even has a special ruble coin that was issued in Russia in 1995 in honour of Kizhi Island!

Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus

Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus

The highlight is the 22 dome Transfiguration Cathedral, one of the largest log structures in the world. Built in 1714 it stands 37m high without a single nail! Next to it is the Intercession Church with a mere 10 domes and between them is the Bell Tower. Inside the churches are the most stunning icons. The oldest structure on the Island is the tiny 14th century Church of Resurrection of Lazarus, making it the oldest wooden church still standing in Russia.

Again, just how incredible is it that 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.

The Church of the Transfiguration Interior

The Church of the Transfiguration Interior

The Church of the Transfiguration is one of the highlights of Kizhi Island (as seen above). And although it is undergoing restoration, I was able to visit the Church of the Intercession, built in 1764, and was able to listen to an incredibly special performance. I find Russian Orthodox chant so special to listen to because it is unlike any other sacred music. You can clearly hear the Western artistic influences brought into Russia in the 18th century, however it remains thoroughly Russian at the same time. I was so lucky enough to hear many of these performances throughout my Russian trip like nothing else I have experienced. 

Russian Crafts

kizhi island russian handicrafts

So much of the charm of the reconstructed village on Kizhi Island is the demonstration of traditional crafts and tasks of peasant life in the Karelia Region of Russia.

As a traveller, you always want to see places as they existed in their original time, and that’s what makes Kizhi Island so special to me. I’ll treasure these souvenirs I now have that you can see above and below. And as a crafter myself I so deeply admire their artistry.  

After meeting the locals who are keeping alive the ancient crafts alive, we then visited a typical peasant’s house to see how the extended family and animals lived as early as the 18th century.

Russian Peasant’s House

russian peasant's house
russian peasant's home kizhi island

Inside this large wooden house this would have been typically been home to approximately 15 people, on Kizhi Island.

These homes each housed one huge close knit family together inside for approximately five months of each year. There was always a bath house located away from the main house where people could bathe and take a sauna, even in the winter.

russian china kizhi island

The families’ most prized possessions included their best china, that were kept in the second room or guest bedroom. The third room is an enormous room used all winter as a work room and to house their boats and sleds, tools and other large items they needed. They grew all their food during the summer months and stored it for the winter. 

russian weaving kizhi island
kizhi island peasant house weaving

I can’t believe how blessed we were with the weather in Russia at this point in my trip. It made somewhere like Kizhi Island especially beautiful during the long northern summer, when the church domes shine with a mysterious, silvery light. It also kind of looks like a lost fairytale setting to me, what do you think?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

wooden house kizhi island russia

Are you equally captivated by the otherworldly Kizhi Island? I really hope you’re enjoying following my adventures through Rural Russia so far with Volga Dream.If you’re playing catch up, the first stop was the charming Svirstroy and I started my adventures in the majestic St. Petersburg. 

I’ll be following this post with my whole adventures travelling down the Volga River with Volga Dream. So for the rest of my travels head right here. See you in Goritsy! xoxo

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