Kizhi Island…UNESCO World Heritage Site

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

Preobranzhenskaya Church.

On day 8 we were still cruising north and moving out of the Volga River and into Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe, for our next stop this afternoon Kizhi Island. This morning as we moved further north the signs of late fall were ever present…the leaves on the Russian Birch trees had turned a delightful golden and the contrast with the white bark was a stark visual that had everyone reaching for their cameras.

The day was cool and mostly gray, although the sun did peek out from the clouds on occasion for a better photo op. I wished I could have visited in the spring when the Island was full of wildflowers and the field were ready for planting…it would be glorious.

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

Church of Transfiguration domes

It is not a large island being only 6 km long and 1 km wide. Much of the island is rocky with only about half the island suitable for the planting the grains and potatoes which were staples of the Russian diet in the 18th and 19th century. When the island had a large number of settlements…14 in the 16th century and only 9 in the 20th..cows would be poled across the narrow channel to the mainland on flat bottom boats to graze during the day and returned in the evening to be milked.

Today the island is an open air museum with about 80 historical wood buildings..some of which were brought to the island in the 20th century to preserve them from destruction. Perhaps the most impressive building, which was original to the island, is the 22 domed Preobramzhenskaye (Transfiguration) Church with its soaring log walls reaching up 37 meters making it one of the largest log buildings in the world. Built in 1714 the notched and pegged building was constructed without one nail.

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

Log home on Kizhi Island

Other buildings consist of windmills, churches, homes and,barns dating from the 14th to the 19th century offering a insight into the life of Russian peasants . It is because of this concentration of fine period log structures the UNESCO had made the island a World Heritage Site. We were given a short tour of several of the buildings with a talk by traditionally costumed guides and artisan demonstrations of the crafts practiced by the island residents…spinning, weaving, woodcarving and painting were also given.

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

Serving tea in an 19th Century Log Home on Kizhi Island.

It was a beautiful little island to stop at and I think it was my favorite of the little towns along the way to St. Petersburg. As we leave late in the afternoon we set off southwest across the lake and into the Svir River. A stretch of 139 miles known as the “Blue Route” is lined with stunning birch forests and leads us to our next stop Mandrogy.

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Village of Mandrogy

After cruising through the night we are to arrive in the morning at Mandrogy a small village that had ceased to exist during WW2. A very enterprising Russian decided to rebuild the village in 1996 as a tourist stop for cruise ships going between St. Petersburg and Kizhi Island.  He brought in log buildings for shops and homes, started a moose farm, set up a small hotel and built craft shops and populated them with artisans. It was a little too slick and commercial for my taste. We wandered around for several hours buying nothing as I thought of our arrival in St. Petersburg the next day.

Continuing down the Svir River we headed into Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe, which is the gateway to the Neva River and St. Petersburg. The sun came out and the Viking staff put on a great luncheon buffet on the top deck. It was glorious basking in the sun and watching the fall colors line the shore and their reflection in the clear lake waters

Kizhi Island...UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fall colors along the Svir River.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Viking River Cruises during my Waterway of the Tsars cruise.  However, the receipt of complementary services will never influence the content or post in this blog.  I write the truth, even if it means biting the hand that feeds me.

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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3 Responses to Kizhi Island…UNESCO World Heritage Site

  1. Loved the photography. You are hitting it right on.

  2. I did not realize that they had log buildings. I don’t know what they used but log did not come to mind. Interesting trip. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Julie Wright says:

    I love the detail in your photos…..you have a good eye.
    The wooden domes on the church, the meal table with samovar and the tree reflections…….all are beautifully observed; most crisp.
    I know you find the camera cumbersome but the results are quite superior to normal snapshots…
    Keep it up…looking forward to Burma, where once again I suppose you won’t bite the hand that feeds you………
    Have fun.

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