2018-10-08 11:58:00

Remnants of older altar discovered at site of burned-down Dormition Church in Karelia

Petrozavodsk, October 8, Interfax - Specialists from a Moscow institute Spetsproektrestavratsia, which specializes in architectural restoration, had inspected the site of the Dormition Church destroyed by fire in the Karelian town of Kondopoga, the regional administration said in a statement.

"The best preserved part [of the church] is the wooden altar whose logs partly remained on the outside but were severely burned out on the inside. In the lower section of the altar piece, the specialists discovered a log structure of an older, five-wall altar on a stand-alone rock foundation," the statement said.

The specialists believe that the new altar may have been added as a superstructure on top of the old one during the last reconstruction of the church.

"The logs sustained serious loss in diameter because of the fire, but the beam joints and cross-sections have remained. Judging by the burned-down corner notches, cuttings from the tool are well readable even on the charred surface," the statement said.

The surviving fragments will be moved indoors by November 15. Regional authorities are in talks with the Kondopoga pulp mill over renting some of its warehouses. Until then the site will remain under security round the clock.

"Arrangements have been made for temporary warehousing of the marked elements which will be removed for storage and analysis. Fully destroyed elements and charcoal from the site have been stacked separately for subsequent removal and disposal," the statement said.

It was reported that a fire on August 10 destroyed almost entirely the unique 18th century church in Kondopoga. Investigators launched a criminal investigation on charges of causing damage or destruction of a listed cultural heritage site. A 15-year-old boy is suspected of arson.

The Dormition Church built in 1764 was a unique monument of Russian wooden architecture, a cultural heritage site of federal significance. The church was taken under state protection in the 1960s. It stood over a total area of 260.3 square meters.