Thursday, August 6, 2020

Kizhi Island - an outdoor architecture museum

The Hagia Sophia post sparked Diane Henders' memory of a History of Architecture class she once took. That would be a most interesting class as it must have covered many of the architectural wonders of the world, of which several must have been in Russia and Ukraine.

I have visited two outdoor museums of historical architecture in Ukraine, the Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine near Kyiv, and the Pereyaslav National Historic-Ethnographic Reserve at Pereyaslav Khmelnitsky. These are easily visited from Kyiv and need at least a very long day to see everything. 

Click to enlarge
One outdoor museum I would live to visit that is NOT easily accessible is Kizhi Island 6 km by 1 km, in the middle of Lake Onega in Karelia. One travels by plane or train to Petrozavodsk a city of 260,000 on the shore of Lake Onega, which is worth a visit all on its own. From there a hydrofoil takes you 68 km to Kizhi Island, the home of more than 80 historical wooden structures.

The island was settled since at least the 1400s but only one small settlement remains. In the 18th century two large churches and a bell tower were built. They are now known as Kizhi Pogost and are a UNESCO Heritage site.

In the 1950s many wooden structures from Karelia were moved to the Island for preservation. Someday, I should like to visit.

Kizhi churches.jpg
Kizhi Island churches

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Kizhi Island Settlement

Kizhi 06-2017 img12 StMichael Chapel.jpg
Chapel of the Archangel Michael


  1. Those churches! Such fabulous architecture!

    I like outdoor museums too. Three of my favourites here on the prairies are the Mennonite Village in Steinbach, Manitoba; Fort La Reine museum in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and the Ukrainian Village near Edmonton, Alberta. Oh yes, and can't forget Fort Edmonton Park here in the city either.

    1. Have not visited those but have been to the western development museum at North Battleford and the RCMP FORT at Battleford as well as Fort Carlton and Batoche. So many places to visit close to home in Canada

  2. Wow, those are amazing! History of Architecture never covered anything like that. :-)

    1. Ethnocentric or just too many structures to cover them all?

  3. Far too many structures. I took history of art and architecture for four years, and still only scratched the surface. The curriculum concentrated on the historical progression of architecture from its roots to modern-day skyscrapers, so we missed fascinating little diversions like these complex wood structures. Side trips like this would have made the course a lot more fun!

    1. Put it on your bucket list. There are several good examples at Kyiv and Pereyaslav Khelmitsky when you come to visit.


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