It must be our lucky day, because we just hit the motherlode of our two favorite topics: abandoned architecture and Russian oddities. Thanks to photographer Richard Davies, who has a solo show at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki through May 30, the wider world can get a taste of the endangered, centuries-old wooden Orthodox churches indigenous to the Russian North.
Davies originally stumbled upon a cache of postcards depicting the sanctuaries by Russian artist Ivan Bilibin, circa 1902–04 when the buildings were already in poor condition. He then took a pilgrimage (ПАЛОМНИЧЕСТВО) in Bilibin’s footsteps in an effort to preserve the area’s architectural and cultural heritage. More amazing photos below.
Kosmozero, Karelia region, Church of St Alexander Svirsky (1769)
“Many churches have been lost: some have been left to rot; some have been destroyed by lightning; countless others by ignorance, spite and neglect. Last year, one church was hit by a reversing tractor – it tumbled like a pack of cards.”
Verkhniaya Uftiuga, Arkhangel region, Church of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica (1784)
Permogorye, Arkhangel region, Church of St. George (1665)
“There is however much to celebrate. The integrity between the landscape and the architecture of this wooden world is as striking to us today as it was to Bilibin. The basic simplicity of the log cabin construction and the extravagant fantasies superimposed on it are just as startling.”
Kokkoila, Karelia region, Chapel of St. Barbara (early 18th century)
Imzha, Arkhangel region, Church of the Virgin Hodigitria (1763)