Church of the Transfiguration (1714), West Facade, Kizhi Island, Russia


This west view of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Kizhi Island (Karelia) was taken in 1991 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located within an archipelago in the southwestern part of Lake Onega, Kizhi Island is one of the most revered sites in the Russian north, with a pogost, or enclosed cemetery, containing two wooden churches. The site’s dominant feature is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, built around 1714. The church is the last surviving original example of an elaborate form of north Russian church architecture consisting of ascending octagonal pine log tiers buttressed with rectangular extensions at the points of the compass (west, south, east, and north). The various components of the structure are crowned with cupolas (22 in all) covered with aspen shingles--some 30,000 on this structure (all of which were replaced in a restoration of the exterior in the 1950s). The lower part of the west facade has an elevated entrance consisting of two flights of stairs meeting under a central gable (visible in the center). The roof of this construction is decorated with carved end boards. In the foreground is a reconstructed wooden wall on a stone base that encloses the territory of the pogost.

Last updated: January 11, 2016