Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

If you really want to see a lot of old Russian traditional wooden architecture, namely churches and chapels, then for sure you need to visit Karelia. This land borders Finland for over 1,000 km along its length on one side, and like Finland is called “Land of the Lakes” with over 90,000 small lakes. Since the early times people have lived here and built these beautiful, unique wooden churches. Let’s see inside, thanks to the Russian blogger Alexei, who took those awesome photos!

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

This wooden church is in Sheleiki village. It’s dated to 1783. The early snow is already there in early October.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Alexei says it’s very quiet there – your footsteps sound very loud. He walked right up to the church and he was able to look inside. It was empty.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

So he moved on and went to the neighboring village of Gimreka. Here he found another church that dated back to 1659. Just imagine – a wooden structure that is almost 400 years old still stands with all this snow, wind and sun and still stays strong. They knew how to build back then!

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

He again approached the church and it was just as empty as the previous one. He couldn’t enter though, as it was locked.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

However he could take plenty photos from the outside.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Every detail counts! Just see how meticulously made and cut the wood is.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Also see how the shadow repeats the wooden carvings. This is an old Russian Solar sign called “Kolovrat” – sort of an ancient Russian solar swastika.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

A real thing of beauty.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

And here is another church and some other old wooden structures.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Like this house from the 19th century.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Everything is abandoned.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

This building was marked, probably back in Soviet times as “Architectural legacy” – just marked and then abandoned.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Then he went to the next village. Just forty five kilometers from the region’s capital city of Petrozavodsk there is a 42 meter tall Uspenskaya Church which is leaning to one side now. It’s dated back to 1774. Before, there was one more church next to it which didn’t survive the Soviet reign when the churches were totally neglected.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Here he could go inside and take some photos. This is a figure of Jesus the Christ with 16 cherubim around him.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

If you remember – we posted about this church recently.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Some houses have their windows covered from inside for some reason – probably because the people inside want to save warmth during long winters, defying the purpose of a window at all. They have a red-blue-green flag of Karelia, though.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Then 35 kilometers further on and he has reached the old village of Virma.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

The nature is astonishing around there too, says Alexei.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

This village has a wooden St. Peter and St. Paul church – dated as far back as 17th century.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Sometimes this church is even being opened to serve a mass.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Then another village – Manga – known as far as back from 1563. This houses even built maybe two centuries ago – still inhabited and well serving their current residents.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

It also has an ancient wooden church. Alexei says he couldn’t reach it by car, had to walk, and to walk you had to cross private properties all the time.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Looks like it has been renovated recently.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

You can see a highway from the church.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

And then he went to another village – Kotchura, near Pryazha town.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

There is a St. Johns church built in 18th century.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Besides a church there is an ancient section of fencing – the portal or gate to the church territory – now all full of overgrown weeds.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Alexei says it looks very amazing – he never saw anything like this before. It is like a fairy tale.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

And so he enters thru the gate and comes closer to the old church.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Just one look at its lumber can tell how old this building is.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

And again very intricate detailing, hand carved back then.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Covered with forest moss.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

Moss is everywhere.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

And again,  Soviet markings – posted by Soviet Ministry of Culture – reads  “This Chapel must be protected as an all people’s wealth”.

Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land

But it is not very protected – nobody cares and of course this sign is old.

Hope you liked this story. If you get chance ever to visit Russia – you might really want consider visiting Karelia too! It’s a cool place with awesome nature and traces of old civilization and its architecture!

Alexei’s site is below:

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5 thoughts on “Ancient Wooden Churches of Karelia Land”

  1. These buildings need to be saved. They have existed this long, it would be bad to let them rot away. If people would only buy these buildings and renovate them as a dacha. They would be saving a big part of history.

    • Is it possible to renovate them without destroying them? Perhaps the wood is too old and fragile to survive any work. My house is wooden and, although it’s only 90 years old, the wood crumbles easily. The conditions here are very different (Australia) but I doubt Russian timber would be in any better condition. It could be that finding a method of either slowing or stopping the deterioration of the building would be best. It’s just a minor problem of finding the method and someone willing to pay for it all 😀

      But yes, beautiful buildings, beautiful natural surroundings.

  2. These are Russian Orthodox Temples (churches to the western world) and are considered holy sites. A place where 100’s of worshipers over the centuries have received the sacraments of Orthodox Christianity. Some may even have cemeteries attached. They are not something to be sold to the highest bidder and turned into a vacation spot. I do however agree completely that these buildings of antiquity need to be preserved.Not just for the Orthodox Church but for all humanity.

  3. Similar structures can be found in Tomsk and Kiev! They have their own soul–it doesn’t matter what your religion, or if you are atheist. You must feel them!

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