Church of the Transfiguration (1714), Southwest View, Cupolas with Aspen, Kizhi Island, Russia


This view of cupolas at the top 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 tiers buttressed with rectangular extensions at the points of the compass. The various components of the pine log structure are crowned with barrel gables, which support cupolas covered with aspen shingles (lemekhi). For the 22 cupolas of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior there are some 30,000 shingles, which were replaced in a restoration during the 1950s. The shingles are cut in a curved form to fit the contours of the cupola frame and are wedged into place beginning with the top row, which fits into a neck at the base of the cross. The vertical beams in this view are temporary supports for the endangered structure.

Last updated: January 11, 2016