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TRAVEL In Praise of … Kishi Island (No. 37)

Posted by on 3. April 2012

Kishi Island

A passengership on Lake Onega, passing the Kishi Island churches ...

Kishi Island

... and a closer look at the church with the 22 domes

Kizhi or Kishi Island is located on this lake in Karelia (near Finland). There you find two large wooden churches (the 22-dome Transfiguration Church and the 9-dome Intercession Church) and a bell-tower. The island is only 4 m or 12 feet above the water and the buildings are not heated (for a good reason!) and are therefore called „summer churches“. They exist since 1714 and a legend tells that the main builder used one axe for the whole construction, which he threw into the lake upon completion with the words „there was not and will be not another one to match it.“ The big church has a perimeter of 20 x 29 m (or 60 x 87 feet) and is one of the tallest wooden structures of the Russian North. Standing on the island and looking at the towers, you feel unreal – like in a Russian version of „Lord of the Ring“ or in Eisensteins „Ivan the Terrible“. Here in front of you are masterpieces of architecture, the maximum a logs-only-builder can achieve, even crazier than the Kremlin and so fragile, a storm or a spark could destroy it within seconds. Tthat“s why I tell you: Go there fast!

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