Kargopol is a town and the administrative center of Kargopolsky District in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, located on both sides of the Onega River, several miles north of Lake Lacha, in the southwestern corner of the oblast.
Today, Kargopol is a sleepy historical town adjoining the Kenozersky National Park. It is best known in Russia for Kargopol toys (Kargopolskiye igrushki), which are small, simple clay figures painted in traditional style.
During its golden age in the 17th century, Kargopol became home to a highly localized brand of medieval Russian architecture.
Quite a few wooden and white stone churches survive in the town and its
vicinity. The earliest of these buildings is the black-domed Cathedral
of the Nativity of Christ, built of dolomite by Novgorodians
and consecrated in 1562. The interior features a curious iron hand
sticking from the drum. A hallmark of Kargopol churches is delicate
The Kargopol stone churches are classified as historical and architectural heritage and include:
- Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ (1552–1562) with the bell-tower (1766–1767)
- Resurrection Church (end of the 17th century)
- Church of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (1740–1751)
- Holy Trinity Church (1790–1802)
- Presentation Church (1803)
- an ensemble of three churches: the Annunciation Church (1692), the Saint Nicholas Church (1741), and the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos (1678–1680)
Kargopol is classified as a historical town by the Ministry of
Culture of Russian Federation, which implies certain restrictions on
construction in the historical center.
The only state museum in the town is the Kargopol State Museum of History, Art, and Architecture, founded in 1919. This is a cloak organization, which not only holds ethnographic, art,
and historic exhibits, but also protects some of the architectural
monuments in Kargopol and surroundings. Fifteen buildings, including a
number of churches, are museum property. There are also two private
museums in Kargopol.