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Kizhi island

Kizhi island (7 miles long with maximum width of 1.6 kilometers) is situated within the lake Onega, which is the second largest freshwater pond in the European part of Eurasia. It is located 65 kilometers from the city of Petrozavodsk and surrounded by a large number of other islands, called Zaonezhskie shkhery.

There are two versions of the origin of the name of the island:

1) the Name of the island comes from the Karelian word “kizat”, which means merrymaking. In ancient times, people from nearby villages came here with the purpose of pagan rituals.

2) the Second version is also connected with Karelia. “Keiji” in Karelian means “water moss”, which is found in abundance in all the swamps of Karelia. However, the first version is more plausible.

In addition, visitors to the island often ask: “Where to put the emphasis in the name of the island?”. If we proceed from the peculiarities of the local dialect, the stress falls on the first syllable.

Land of Kizhi island and its surrounding area was part of Obonezhskaya Pyatina and was the center of the Spaso-Kizhsky Pogost, whose territory covers the southern part of Zaonezhye Peninsula, including Unitskaya Guba, Onega lake. “Spassky Pogost in Kizhi” was first mentioned in Chronicles in 1563. Since the XVI century Kizhi becomes the administrative centre of the whole region (Pogost) with a population of 12 thousand people. “Pogost” means several villages under the control of a single parish.

In the 16th century in the neighborhood of Kizhi island there were two other parish churches. Also Klimenetskiy Monastery was founded in the 16th century on the Great Klimenetsky island. By the early 18 century there were 12 parish churches on the territory of Spaso-Kizhsky Pogost. Almost all of them were destroyed.

After the 18th century, the “pogosts”, as territorially-administrative units were abolished, the Kizhi parish of Petrozavodsk district of Olonets province was estsblished. After this reform, the term “pogost” remained a meaning of “village graveyard near the Church.”

Kizhi Pogost consisted of two wooden churches of the Preobrazheniya Spasova and Pokrova Svyatoj Bogorodicy (the blessed virgin). At the beginning of the XVIII century wooden Church Preobrazheniya Spasova burned down during a storm. After this it was decided to build a new Church Preobrazheniya Spasova. In 1714, a new Church was already built. It survived, but with some changes. It is decorated with 22 onion domes. According to one of the legends the Emperor Peter I drew its plan. The other legend says that the Church was built without a single nail by a carpenter Nestor. After finishing his work he threw his axe into the lake saying, “there was nothing more beautiful made by human hands and never will be!”

In the late nineteenth century Kizhi volost was reduced to 47 closest to the island of Kizhi villages located on the banks of the North-Western shore Clientslogo Islands, along the coast of the mainland, on the Islands of Kizhi, Volkostrov, Aglow and Rogachev.

During Stalin’s repressions many peasants were called kulaks or enemies of the people and exiled to other parts of the Soviet Union or executed. In the 30-ies of the 20th century on the South island deer, which is 10 km from Kizhi, was also created concentration camp. Lime kiln still preserved on the island .

In the mid-20th century after all the wars, revolutions, repressions and collectivization, there were 17 villages. At the moment on the island of Kizhi there are 2 villages out of 9. In the surrounding villages most people live only during the summer, moving to the city in wintertime. Agriculture has lost its importance.

History of the Museum-reserve Kizhi

January 1, 1966, the State historical and architectural Museum “Kizhi” was founded on the basis of the architectural ensemble of the Kizhi Pogost. In addition, a great number of farm houses, outbuildings and chapels of the villages of Zaonezhie were moved to the island. In 1990 Kizhi Pogost was included in the List of UNESCO world heritage, and in 1993 by the decree of the President of the Museum-reserve Kizhi received the status of “Museum under the open sky” and was included in the State arch of especially valuable objects of cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia. Another such Museum of wooden architecture “Malye Karely” is situated in Arkhangelsk region.

Other publications

Churches and chapels on the Kizhi island

Церковь Воскрешения Лазаря Пожалуй, церковь Воскрешения Лазаря одна из древнейших деревянных построек, сохранившихся до наших дней в Заонежье. Она была построена в конце 14 – начале 15 веков, однако точной даты не сохранилось. По легенде ее построил инок Лазарь, проживший 105 лет и умерший в 1391 году. Это была первая постройка Муромского монастыря, который находился […]

History of Karelia (Russia)

Эпоха первых поселенцев Славяне появились на Онежском озере в 13 веке. В большинстве своем это были крестьяне из существовавшей в то время Новгородской Республики. Быстрое освоение глубинных территорий Карелии было связано с участившимися конфликтами на границах с ливонским и тевтонским рыцарскими орденами, а также с наступлением на Руси татаро-монгольского ига. В итоге в связи с […]

Villages of Kizhi island

Деревня Ямка Первые упоминания о деревне Ямка относятся к 1563 году, однако во время смутного времени это поселение было практически полностью уничтожено. Название «Ямка» появилось лишь в начале 20 века. На протяжении своего существования деревня не раз меняла свое имя. Вскоре после окончания смуты на Руси на место бывшего поселения пришел крестьянин Ольхин и основал […]

Kizhi Pogost

Наибольший интерес для гостей острова Кижи представляет архитектурный ансамбль Кижского погоста с единственной в мире многоглавой деревянной Преображенской церковью. Как говорилось ранее, с ХVI века остров становится центром Спасского погоста. Тогда же на острове уже были построены две деревянные церкви — Преображения Спасова и Покрова Пресвятой Богородицы. Однако точного описания этих церквей не сохранилось. Преображенская […]

Farmhouses on the island of Kizhi

Дом крестьянина Ошевнева В 1951 году дом был перевезен на остров из одноименной деревни Ошевнево (деревня не сохранилась), которая располагалась на соседнем острове. Это был первый памятник, перевезенный на Кижи музеем-заповедником. Он был построен в 1876 году и представляет собой типичный дом северного зажиточного крестьянина. Главной особенностью таких домов является размещение жилого и хозяйственного комплексов […]