These Intricate Churches Were Built Without a Single Nail

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
April 28 2014 10:29 AM

The Intricate Wooden Churches of Kizhi Island

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Kizhi Island in Russia's Lake Onega, about 300 miles northeast of St. Petersburg, is home to two extraordinary churches constructed in the 18th century.

Built side-by-side, the 22-dome Church of the Transfiguration and the nine-dome Intercession Church both seem to gleam silver in the sun. But it's a trick of the light: each structure is made entirely of interlocking wood, with no metal involved — not even a single nail.

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The Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1714, stands 121 feet tall, while the Intercession Church, completed in 1764, is 105 feet. The two buildings are the main drawcard of the Kizhi open-air museum, a collection of wooden houses, barns, and granaries imported from villages around the region.

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.