Kizhi Island, Russia

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Whether you are spiritual, religions or neither, Kizhi Island awakens something in you. On the approach, the World Heritage Transfiguration Cathedral welcomes the ship as it peers over the trees. It is beautifully positioned to be seen from all the islands in the area and from almost anywhere on the island itself, which only 8km long and 1.5km wide.

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As the daughter and grand-daughter of a carpenter, I have a love of wood that runs through my veins. This island has been the highlight for me so far as the architecture is all wooden. It is an open-air museum of edifices, churches, chapels, bathhouses, houses and the very impressive cathedral. The craftsmanship to create the Russian Orthodox domes using over thirty thousand shingles is almost mesmerising. Surrounded by basic and sparse vegetation, the buildings really make a statement.

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Three men from the choir thanked us for coming to their special church by singing in the main chapel. It was so incredible to stand in this ornately decorated chapel, embraced by the smell of wood and Russian harmonies. I captured the moment by staying focused on the experience for as long as possible so it remains imprinted in my heart.

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Wondering around I stumbled across a smaller chapel and spent ages trying to absorb all the details of the icons, the ceiling and the altars. It was even more special that I was in there on my own and was able to feel it and not just see it.

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I was sad to leave and lingered on the pier for as long as I could. I kept looking over my shoulder to get as much time with the cathedral and the other buildings in my mind’s eye as possible….I just don’t want the feeling of being there to fade. I know it will, but I hoped to take away as much as I could.

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