Shuja

The village of Shya near Petrozavodsk , located in the estuary of river Shya is a successor of a pogost (district or parish), which was an administrative center of Nikolsky pogost, mentioned in the oldest scribe books of Obonezhskaya pyatina (administrative region) in 1496 and 1563.

Shyjisky pogost is of interest not only for its old history: first of all, due to its outstanding religious ensemble of XVIII – XIX centuries – two churches (“tserkov”) and a bell tower (“kolokolnya”), Shyjsky pogost went down into the history of Russian architecture. The predecessors of Shya churches are recorded in the scribe books (“pistsovye knigi”): a scriber (“pisets”) Andrey Likhachev and a podjachy («clerk”) Lyapun Dobrynin noted two churches of the pogost in 1563 – the church of St. Nicholas (Nikola Chudotvorets) with the aisle (“pridel”, or a side-altar) and the other one, heated or warm (“teplaya”, i.e. heated with a stove) church of John the Baptist (Ioann Predtecha).

Soon the churches were burnt by “nemetskye lydi” (enemies, invaders)- (the scribe book of 1582 mentions only “tserkovnye mesta”, i.e. churches), but they were rebuilt by the early XVII. The scribers recorded the following churches in 1616 – 1619 – Nikolskaya church (St. Nicolas) as “drevyanaya, kletski” (wooden, square) and Predtechenskaya (John the Baptist) church as “teplaya, s trapezoi, na podklete, drevenaya, verkh shatrovy” (wooden, tent-roofed, heated, with a refectory – a room in a church where people could gather to discuss something or have a meal, and with a kind of cellar).

The churches existed until the end of XVII (recorded in the scribe book of 1628-1631 and in census records of 1646 and 1678), but in XVIII (Predtechenskaya church, or John the Baptist church) and XIX (Nikolskaya church, or St.Nickolas church) they were replaced by new ones survived till 1941. Nowadays only prewar photographs can tell us about this remarkable ensemble. Only few of them have survived, so the more valuable are the photos of 1930-s by G. Akundinov, a photographer and a researcher of local history, which were found in the photographic archive of the Central Archive of Republic Karelia. They tell us about this church ensemble and its surroundings.

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