Kizhi Island, Russia's open-air museum of Karelian wooden architecture, seeks to preserve the buildings that have been transported there due to their age and importance. They are inherently delicate - made with no nails or glue, these all-wood structures face threat from fire, rot, pests, and the elements. Moving the structures to the island from their original location was the first measure of preservation, but experts still encounter challenges in keeping them intact.
The Transfiguration Cathedral, the most recognizable building on the island with its 22 onion domes, faces an uncertain future. Restorers plan to use metal reinforcements to support the 300-year-old church, which was damaged both by insects and the pesticide used to eradicate the invaders.
While the loss of the Transfiguration Cathedral would be a huge blow to the island and to the architectural heritage it preserves, past attempts to protect the building have damaged it further, and the metal-support system is feared to do the same.
Kizhi Island makes a good day trip from St. Petersburg, and if you're traveling to the area, be sure not to miss this Russian World Heritage site. The fragile structures isolated on the island teach about the region's past and may not be around forever.
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Kizhi Island photo credit: iStockphoto/AmoreBrittigan