Pogost Ensemble, Church of the Transfiguration (1714) (Left); Bell Tower (19th Century); Church of the Intercession (1764), West View, Kizhi Island, Russia


This west view of the main church ensemble on Kizhi Island (Karelia) was taken in 1993 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 and a bell tower. The site’s dominant feature is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior (on the left), 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 that support a total of 22 cupolas sheathed in aspen shingles. At the center of the ensemble is a 19th-century bell tower, a log structure with plank siding. To the south of the tower (on the right) is the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God, built of pine logs in 1764 and consisting of a square main structure supporting an octagonal tower crowned with nine cupolas. On the church’s west end is a vestibule (trapeznaia). The Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God could be heated and thus was known as a “winter church.”

Last updated: January 11, 2016