9 The Land of Chapels And Ancient Legends

The Land of Chapels And Ancient Legends

Posted on July 27, 2012 by team

Kenozerye is a forest and lake region, the place where in the middle of the XIX century the Russian epos was written – 83 heroic epics, local old men still remember fragments of ancient Russian legends which were told by their grandparents for many centuries.

Kenozersky national park is situated in the south-west of the Arkhangelsk region. There are about 300 lakes in the park. The biggest are Kenozero – 90 km2, Lekshmozero – 54 km2. People have been living near them for a long time.

The Slavs brought farming to this land: here appeared cosy villages, fields, “holy” groves existing since pagan times, coniferous forests, ancients crosses at the crossroads… And famous chapels, of course.

Nokolskaya chapel (beginning of the 19th century)

As opposed to churches chapels have no altars so liturgy cannot be served there. A chapel is intended for reading timed psalms and prayers. Anyone has a right to build a chapel. No special permissions are needed.

Most of the Kenozerye chapels were built in the 18-19th centuries at will of local people. But they build new ones too. 35 ancient chapels have been preserved till today, but they had 65!

The chapels are still live spiritual centres of the local villages, they helped the people to go through the tribulations of the 20th century. In the 1970s the most interesting wood architecture monuments were transported from here by helicopters to the museum in Karelia. It meant death for the chapels. They were separated from the landscapes where they had been created by masters, from “holy” trees next to which they had been standing for centuries, from people they had been serving to… they all turned into exhibits…

Though the locals could save one chapel of the 18th century. It was carefully restored by the national park.

The last citizen of Mamonov island, Nikolay Nozhkin aged 100, had been an unchallenged headman of the chapel tried to oppose those who came for the chapel. He couldn’t outlive this loss and died soon. Now his daughter is also a supervisor in a chapel.

There she is, on the photo above – Pelageya Nozhkina.

Not only the Soviet authorities were fighting with the chapels, it was normal for the time of Peter the Great too…

Churchyard of the 17th century

Vershinino is the “capital” of Kenozerye. Its chapels are simply breathtaking! Nikolskaya chapel is a sample of perfect beauty. Its beauty is spreading many kilometeres around. It was also miraculously saved from the authorities and finally restored in 1996.

The Kenozersky national park was born in difficult time when the USSR collapsed. But thanks to its director and efforts of the locals the rich heritage of the region was managed to be saved. It’s not cheap to restore ancient objects but they have managed to restore many chapels, churches, peasant farms, traditional landscapes…

The chapels of Kenozerye are not museum exhibits today, prayers are still read and people keep coming to talk to God in their walls, to light candles.

Glazovo village with a chapel of the Holy Spirit, the 19th century.

Winter in Glazovo

Glazovo in spring

Glazovo in summer

Glazovo in fall

Old barn in Guzhevo village

Arm of Kenozero lake


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9 Responses to “The Land of Chapels And Ancient Legends”

  1. Chac Mool says:

    Great pics and fantastic place. Thanks ER.

  2. Booker Elkins says:

    Thanks good pix good article

  3. Buratino says:

    Here is real life, real people, the beauty of nature. Northern European Russia is a fairytale land, I recommend all to visit sometime in their lives, you will not be dissapointed.

  4. Unknown says:


  5. Daniel says:

    One of the most interesting posts that there has been on English Russia. Was some portion this area a part of Finland before the Winter War?

    • A-Star says:

      No. Arkhangelsk region is an old russian province. It’s located ~400km to the East from Finnish Karelia.

      • Grzgrz says:

        400km is true for after the Winter War. Nevertheless Kenozero is in an old Russian province, right next to Karelia.

  6. Joe says:

    Really nice pix.

  7. Leopold Green says:

    If there was a photographic definition of what is meant by ‘idyllic’ it must be this… I must go there before I die

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