Wooden Houses

Rustic Russian Charm

As we drive around the country side and through villages, we will see many small wooden houses. In Bashkiria they are often painted, in other parts usually dark wood.

In more remote villages, these houses do not have gas or piped water. Heating is provided by a pechka, a brick closed fire place. Usually it is enough to fire it up twice a day, morning and evening, and the thick walls release the heat over 8-10 hours. The houses are usually fairly small, to reduce the heating requirement.

The houses are made from log, which are carefully selected for their size, straightness, and shape. Most of them are called Fivewalled, as the log walls make up the four outer walls, plus one internal wall. In the old times, the internal wall was made to provide uneven rooms inside, one heated for the family, and the second unheated and served as storage for food, seeds, equipment, and an additional guest room in summer.

Until the 17th century, the houses were heated with an open fire, and smoke escaped via doors and holes, making it fairly black inside. Later pechkas with chimneys were introduced and Peter the Great banned heating without chimneys in the 18th century, although they existed in the Urals until the 19th century. By the way Peter the Great also banned building houses from brick while he was building St Petersburg, to ensure all bricks went to the building of the new city.

The floors were dirt until the 19th century in these houses. The foundation was often non-existent, or the house sat on large rocks. This is why you will see quite a few houses literally falling into the ground, or leaning.

Of course most of the houses have several rooms, running water and toilet etc these days. But they retain their rustic charm on the outside.