Other wooden churches
Featuring different styles, whether Catholic, Orthodox or of another Christian faith, beautiful surviving wooden churches can be found scattered throughout Norway, Russia, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Poland, Romania and Chile. From the Viking stave churches of Urnes and Borgund, decorated with dragons, to the Gothic ones in Maramures and Malopolska.
The whole group of buildings is an open-air architectural and ethnographic museum protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. However, it is Kizhi Pogost (a parochial site) that most tourists who have disembarked after a crossing of over an hour want to visit. The 22 domes made of birch wood of the Church of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhensky) and the nine of the Church of the Intercession surprise visitors with the beauty of their carving and the grandeur of their architecture, which dates back to the 18th century. The unique decorative shapes carved in pine wood, the adjacent clock tower, the small cemetery and the collection of Orthodox frescoes and icons complete the charm of the visit. The reason why two churches were built side by side is purely functional; in winter it’s cheaper to heat a small church. That’s why some guides differentiate between them by calling them the summer church and the winter church.
Although they were restored several times during the 19th and 20th centuries, their survival seems almost magical. It’s no surprise that they are surrounded by legends. The most famous tells how the chief carpenter used just one magic axe to build the Church of the Transfiguration. Once the work was finished, he threw it into the lake so that no one else would be able to build an identical church. Since then, this Excalibur of carpentry has rested at the bottom of the lake.