The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Kargopol, Russia.

© Karasev Viktor/Shutterstock

Nativity Cathedral

Top choice in Northern European Russia

The five-domed, 1562 star of Sobornaya Ploschad sports intriguing timber-encased corner buttresses and houses a splendid iconostasis on the 2nd floor (only open in summer). On a pillar, the superb 18th-century Starshni Sud (Judgment Day) icon is a who’s who of saints on what looks like a heavenly snakes-and-ladders board.

On the 1st floor, 19th-century wooden 'skies' from the region's churches depict Adam and Eve hiding their shame, Isaac about to be killed and other biblical scenes.

Like many of Russia's churches, the cathedral was used as a warehouse during the Soviet era. Restoration is ongoing.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern European Russia attractions

1. Vvedenskaya Church

0.04 MILES

Historically important, the 1809 Vvedenskaya Church stored the hidden chattels of the Russian royals during Napoleon’s 1812 attack on Moscow. Now the…

2. Bell Tower

0.05 MILES

Sweeping views from this sturdy 1778 bell tower justify the somewhat claustrophobic climb from the main grassy square. Enter through a hobbit-sized door…

3. John the Baptist Church

0.08 MILES

This 1751 church on the city's main grassy square has an impressively Gothic bulk with unusual octagonal windows and distinctive double domes on long…

4. Annunciation Church

0.19 MILES

The disused 1692 Annunciation Church catches your eye with its unusually intricate window mouldings.

5. Rozhdenstva Bogoroditsy Church

0.21 MILES

The active 1680 Rozhdenstva Bogoroditsy Church is elegant despite the discordant red-green metallic gleam of its multiple domes. A stylistic effect? No,…

6. Bereginya

0.29 MILES

Bereginya displays and sells a range of folk crafts and organises all manner of masterclasses – from making clay toys to traditional weaving.

7. Zosimy & Savvatiya Church

0.57 MILES

A long walk down a dusty road towards the southwestern end of town, this 1819 church has a small collection of local crafts, costumes and icons, plus…