The island of Kizhi is located at the northern end of the Onega Lake, the second largest lake in Europe. This region is called Zaonezhye (“behind the Lake Onega”). The island is 7 km long, 1,5 wide, longwise and elongeted. The central part is a little elevated.

The word “Kizhi” means “game” in Karelian. Probably it was a site of pagan rites for Ugrian and Finnish tribes. The island first gained significance in the 14th c. as a spot on the water route for trade between the White Sea to the north and the merchant-dominated city of Novgorod on the Volkhov River. In 1951 an open-air museum of different wood structures brought in from nearby villages was founded there. In 1960 it became State Museum of History, Architecture and Ethnography and contains more than 70  chapels, belfries, log-houses, mills, bath-houses, barns, smithies.

Monuments of wooden architecture

The exposition displays an image of the traditional folk architecture and mode of life.
Kizhi Pogost

The architectural ensemble of the Kizhi Pogost contains the Church of the Transfiguration, the Church of the Intercession and the tower that stands between them.

The major structure is the magnificent Church of the Transfiguration built in 1714, with 22 onion-domed cupolas, some of which rise to a height of 121 feet. The composition represents three octagons of different size placed one on another. The work was performed by the carpenter Nestor.  Next to the Church of the Transfiguration stands the Church of the Intercession (Pokrovskaya, built in 1764).  Both churches interiors are richly ornamented with religious objects: the former has especially noteworthy iconostases, the latter – locally painted icons. The Church of the Transfiguration is actually closed for restoration. The architectural ensemble is completed with the bell tower situated between the churches. The bell tower is the latest of the three structures of the Kizhi ensemble. It was built in 1862 instead of the old dilapidated bell tower.


The Church of Lazar of Murom is located nearby. It is the oldest monument of wooden architecture in Russia – the Church was built in the middle of the 14th century. This church was brought here from the Murom Monastery, situated at the southern shore of Onega Lake, in 1960.

Among the many examples of wooden secular architecture are several peasant houses ranging from the simple hut to the quite substantial Oshevnev family`s house-barn that sheltered farm animals, tools and grain as well as the family. A wooden wind mill, large and small granaries, and other farm buildings also represent this category of wooden architecture.

Book now