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Russian wooden Art Nouveau in the provincial towns

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Moscow and St. Petersburg have many well-known tourist attractions. However, small provincial towns are also beautiful and have their own places worth seeing. Many towns are decorated with the houses built in Russian wooden Art Nouveau style, which is a weird combination of a European Art Nouveau and ancient tradition of the Russian culture. Such architectural gems you can see only in Russia.

Photo © Credits to Boris Mavlyutov

Wooden houses are warm and cozy

Russia is rich with vast forests, so people living in the villages could easily cut some trees and build a house. Traditionally, they were building the log houses that were called “izba”. Izba was not only a house but always an artwork. Those wooden houses are cozy, they are warm and dry, and it is important in our cold climate. Russians have always loved living in the wooden houses. When the Russian emperor Peter I decided to make St. Petersburg a European city and ordered to build only the stone houses, people still continued to build the wooden ones, covered them with a thin layer of clay and painted to make them look externally stonelike.

Photo © Credits to vita_colorata

A unique interpretation of the art nouveau style

On the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the ancient Russian traditions of wooden architecture were combined with a popular Art Nouveau style. Asymmetrical shapes, undulating lines, medieval towers and balconies, curved doorways and windows got their wooden versions. The modern architectural tendencies were combined with the traditional secrets of the carpenter’s art and created a unique interpretation of the Art Nouveau style. People tended to make their houses beautiful and fashionable. However, some details translated from the stone into wood look funny.

Photo © Credits to GranLikha

Lines, grapes and mermaids in Gorokhovets

Wood carving is a traditional Russian art. Following the tradition, the craftsmen decorated Art Nouveau wooden houses with rich embellishments. In Gorokhovets town, you could see remarkable Russian nalichniki (ornated wooden window frames) with floral motifs and animal images: garlands of flowers and grapes, lions, mermaids, as well as the poetic characters of Russian folk tales, for example the Sirin birds and Bereginya goddesses.

Photo © Credits to petrov.borys

E22, 53, Gorokhovets, Vladimirskaya oblast', Russia, 601481

Fairy houses of Kimry, the shoemakers capital

In the 19th century, Kimry was the shoemakers capital. Kimry shoemakers used to provide with shoes half of the country. Even a newborn baby was immediately put the shoes on. A local museum keeps a wonderful collection of the old shoes. This village was so rich and famous that it had all the privileges of a city – its own bank, gymnasium, and fashionable houses. Nowadays, this small town is a “conservation area” of the provincial Art Nouveau, and it hides many fairy houses.

Photo © Credits to S.Verkhov

Komsomol'skaya Ulitsa, 21, Kimry, Tverskaya oblast', Russia, 171502

Russian small provincial towns have their charming beauty. They attract people with their nature and silence. They keep the ancient Russian cultural and architectural traditions. Away from the capital and big cities, you can find many hidden gems, and Russian wooden art nouveau is just one of them.

Photo © Credits to Nikolai Pegasov

Title photo © Credits to S.Verkhov

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The author

Victoria Derzhavina

Victoria Derzhavina

I live in Moscow. I am passionate about travelling, history, nature and architecture. I worked as a tourist guide in Moscow and other Russian cities for several years. I get inspiration visiting new places and like sharing it with others.

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