Kizhski Pogost (burial ground), located on Kizhi Island of the Zaonezhye peninsula, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as the most prominent monument of ancient northern wooden architecture. They say that during the last world war, a Finnish pilot was so stricken by its beauty that he disobeyed the order to bomb the island.
A world-famous architectural museum has been created at the Pogost complex. This museum has assembled architectural monuments, everyday items, and icons that have been crafted over the last three hundred years in Russian, Karelian, and Vepsian villages in various regions in Obonezhiе, and in northern and southern Karelia. The museum covers 10,000 hectares.
Besides the monuments of the main exposition, the museum territory hosts several ancient villages, valuable natural artifacts, and archaeological monuments. Kizhi is one of the first open-air museums in the country. The first house was brought to the island in 1951, and Kizhi has operated as an independent museum since 1966.
The first chronicled mentions of the settlement and of the steepled churches on Kizhi Island date to the 15th century. In the 16th century, Kizhi became an administrative center of a whole district (Pogost) with a population of 12,000 people. In 1714, the twenty-two dome Church of Transfiguration was erected using donated funds. In 1764, the Church of Intercession of the Virgin was added next to it, and a third addition to this ensemble was a tall bell tower.
Today, the Kizhi Museum Preserve is one of the largest museums of culture in the Russian north. Its collection counts 76 edifices, including the most ancient wooden church in Russia, the Church of the Raising of Lazarus, several chapels, over two dozen peasant houses, including complex houses and a multitude of support structures such as granaries, drying-houses, and bathhouses.
The ethnographic collection of the museum counts approximately 30,000 household items from Karelia villages from the late 19th-early 20th centuries, and 500 icons from the 16th-19th centuries, including the only full collection of «the heavens» from the churches of Obonezhye.
The Museum Preserve is not only a repository of cultural artifacts from the past, but also a research center. The Yamka and Vasilevo exhibition villages are located in the middle of the island. Another exhibition center is devoted to the culture of Pudozh Russians and resides in the northern part of the island. Another sector is devoted to the Pryazh Karels. Most of the monuments are concentrated on the southern part of the island, near the pier.
In recent years, the Kizhi Island has held picturesque folklore festivals and folk craft days. And that's not surprising: translated from the Karel language, the word «kizhat» means «games.» In the old days, pagan rites were performed on the island.
The museum offers a live exposition that demonstrates peasant crafts and lores, as well as folk ceremonies. It also hosts a folk music group. A youth center is also active within the Kizhi museum, developing and realizing educational programs for young visitors.
Every year, the museum is visited by over 180,000 people from Karelia, Russia, Europe, America, and Asia. The museum preserve holds the first place among the most visited places of Karelia. The museum guides speak English, Finnish, French, German, and Russian. Audio guides in English, Finnish, and Russian are available for the convenience of visitors.
Apart from the wooden architecture, people are attracted by the beauty of the place itself. As far back as the 18th century, the variety and natural beauty of the Kizhi islands, unusual for such northern latitudes, was noted. Academician Erik Laksman, traveling through the Zaonezhye region in 1779, wrote: «It is difficult to imagine how beautifully picturesque are the views beginning with the Bolshoi Klimenetski island. One sees conifer forests, birch and dense linden forests alternating with beautiful fields and meadows, steep mountains, and bare cliffs and rocks.»
The Kizhi Museum Preserve is located in a unique natural region i Karelia — the Kizhi skerries. Due to the relatively mild climate and varied conditions of humidity, light, and temperature, a unique natural complex, rich in flora and fauna, has formed on the isles of the Kizhi skerries. The islands are inhabited by rare species of birds. Forty-three valuable natural monuments have been identified, including rock islands with unique vegetative communities, bird colonies, and geological formations. For this reason, an ecological trail has been laid out on the island. The path is 2.8 kilometers long and has a series of viewpoints, rest areas, and information stands. On this trail, one can see traces of the glacier that moved through this region around 11,000 thousand years ago, traces of an ancient earthquake, the Moshguba swamp that is inhabited by a multitude of birds, and the herb meadows of Kizhi.
Tourist Portal of Karelia / www.ticrk.ru
|Address:||The Republic of Karelia, Medvezhyagorski District, Kizhi Island|