Karelia has always attracted streams of tourists with its numerous natural attractions: clean lakes, Karelian birch forests, unique glacial landscapes, the opportunity to fish and just relax. But there are also cultural attractions from ancient monasteries to a modern sculpture park in Petrozavodsk.
Top-10 attractions of Karelia
On the basis of Valaam, in the middle of Lake Ladoga, surrounded by unique nature and beautiful landscapes, is the Valaam Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery. It was founded by the legendary saints Sergius and Herman in the 10th century. Over the centuries, the monastery was repeatedly ruined by Swedish and rebuilt again, and flourished in the 19th century. The monastic economy then occupied almost the entire Valaam archipelago: there were temples, hermitages, chapels, factories, workshops, gardens, fish farms … After the revolution, the monastery did not close for another thirty years, because it remained in Finland, was destroyed in 1939 and has already during perestroika.
A distinctive feature of the architecture of the monastery is its unique fit into the northern landscape. The main Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, built at the end of the 19th century and restored at the end of the 20th century, is an undoubted masterpiece of architecture. There are shrines here: the miraculous icon - the Mother of God of Valaam, the founders of the monastery, who are hidden under the relics, and much more.
The largest and most famous museum-reserve of wooden architecture in Russia is located on the Kizhi island in Lake Onega. Its pearl is the Kizhi Pogost: a complex of the 16th-19th centuries. of two wooden churches, a bell tower and a fence - the whole complex is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The hallmark of the museum is the multi-tiered Church of the Transfiguration with 23 chapters.
In the second half of the XX century, wooden masterpieces began to be brought to Kizhi from different regions of Zaonezhie: chapels, houses, outbuildings. There is a reconstruction of the Zaonezh village, a windmill, Karelian worship crosses, barns, barns, smithies, baths, several rich residential estates. They represent the cultures of the peoples inhabiting these places - Karelians and Vepsians. The wooden architecture of the Russian North is a unique phenomenon, there are not many of its objects left, and even those, unfortunately, are too easy to lose, so it is worth a trip here.
Ruskeala park and Ruskeala waterfalls
The most beautiful natural park is located on the site of an old marble deposit, from where marble was mined for the construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the Primorskaya and Ladozhskaya metro stations, the National Bank in Helsinki, etc. On the site of a huge half-kilometer-long quarry, a pure lake was formed, along the marble silver banks of which ecological paths and observation platforms were laid.
- There is an underground route through the old mines, you can swim into the old workings by boat.
- There are remnants of marble mining, which were carried out according to the latest Italian technologies and left behind beautiful and evenly cut marble rocks.
- There are the ruins of a lime plant and many modern entertainment and attractions: a bungee, trolls over the lake, a ropeway, a cable car park for children, etc.
- Not far from the park there is a picturesque cascade of several waterfalls - Ruskeala waterfalls.
A nature reserve located around the waterfall of the same name. This is the most famous ecological tourism object in Karelia. The Suna River flows here, crosses the rapids and forms a four-step waterfall of ten meters height.
Previously, this waterfall was even more powerful - it was considered the largest in Russia. It is to him that the famous ode to G. Derzhavin "Waterfall". Now Kivach has become smaller due to the fact that a dam was built higher on the river. But still it remains the most picturesque waterfall in Karelia.
The reserve itself is also of interest for ecological tourism. All the beauty and diversity of Karelian nature is presented here: open outcrops of ancient rocks with the remains of fossil organisms, a three-hundred-year-old coniferous forest, Karelian birches, many small glacial lakes.
It has its own Museum of Nature - two exhibition halls with dioramas, photographs and a story about the reserve, has its own well-kept arboretum and much more.
The most mystical and mysterious place in Karelia, where psychics, occultists and just everyone who is looking for the unidentified and strange flock. Vottovaara is a mountain, or rather a mountain ridge, on top of which there is a wide plateau, literally covered with glacial boulders. This in itself is amazingly beautiful and picturesque. But among local ethnographers there is an opinion that these stone structures are of artificial origin, and are the remains of religious buildings of some ancient civilization.
Some of the buildings may be modern - in our time, neo-pagans are happy to build "circles of stones". Those who wish can find here mysterious drawings, real pyramids, remnants of prehistoric streets and foundations, trees twisted in spirals by an incomprehensible force …
Those who do not believe in mysticism can simply enjoy the beauty of nature; Vattovaara is truly an absolutely amazing place in terms of picturesqueness and energy.
Vepsian ethnographic museum in the village. Sheltozero
Vepsians or otherwise "Chud" are an ancient people who live on the territory of Karelia. Now there are only about 7 thousand of them left. They have their own language, their own customs, their own peculiarities of life. The Vepsians retained paganism longer than other peoples.
In the village of Sheltozero, there is the world's only Vepsian ethnographic museum. The exposition itself is located in a beautiful wooden house of the 19th century, which belonged to the Veps merchant Melkin. The museum presents more than three thousand exhibits (and there are more than eight thousand in total), which were collected in the surrounding Vepsian villages and villages. These are mainly household items: traditional embroidery, tools, dugout boats.
This is not just a museum - it is a whole cultural center: Vepsian songs are sung here, traditional national dishes are prepared. Best of all, Vepsians succeed in their pies - wickets. The museum in Sheltozero includes two wooden houses and a chapel of St. Spirit.
Address. S. Sheltozero, st. Postal, 28.
Embankment of Petrozavodsk
The main attraction of Petrozavodsk, known throughout the country, is the Onega embankment. This is not just a beautiful embankment along the river, faced with Karelian granite. Its main "feature" is the monuments in the modern style, each of which can be looked at for a long time and be surprised or horrified.
In total, more than two dozen different monuments and memorial signs have been installed here. These are gifts to Petrozavodsk from sister cities, individual sculptors and installed just like that. The oldest of them is a memorial sign to Peter I, which has been on the embankment since 1978, the rest were installed mostly in the 2000s. You should definitely pay attention to the "Tree of Desires" - a tree on the trunk of which an ear is fixed into which you can express your wish, or "Wallet of Fortune" - a natural boulder decorated under a stuffed wallet.
Address. G. Petrozavodsk, Onega embankment
National Museum of the Republic of Karelia
The museum is located in a historical building of the 18th century - the house of the Petrozavodsk governor. It was founded back in 1871, and now it is the largest museum in the city of Petrozavodsk.
The main part of his expositions is natural science, it tells about the nature of Karelia. But besides this, there are also interesting historical collections. This is archeology, starting from the Paleolithic, reconstruction of the medieval life of the Karelians, expositions dedicated to the Olonets province as part of the Russian Empire, Kalevala and Karelian folklore, etc.
Kostomuksha Nature Reserve and Kalevalsky Park
This is another object of nature tourism in Karelia. There are many tourist routes laid here - there are also quite simple ones, 2-3 km long. there are more distant attractions to the nearest drive sights designed for children. Visiting the ecological paths of the reserve is possible only with a guide.
A part of the reserve is the Kalevalsky National Park, on the territory of which there are about 400 lakes. Unlike the nature reserve, in the territory of the national park you can fish and relax by the fire. Interesting entertainment events, festivities, historical reconstructions, etc. are periodically held in the surrounding villages.
Address. Kostomuksha, st. Priozernaya, 2
White Sea petroglyphs
Petroglyphs are unique rock carvings-reliefs created by primitive people in the IV-III millennium BC. NS. This is a whole archaeological complex, more than 30 sites of primitive man and more than 1000 petroglyphs have been discovered here. It was a period of favorable climate and flourishing culture - after the IIII millennium BC. NS. it got colder here and people almost left here.
The largest accumulation of these artifacts is located in the town of Zalavruga, about a kilometer from Belomorsk itself. There are small images, and there are three-meter ones, there are whole multi-figure compositions. For example, one of them depicts a winter elk hunt, the other depicts a beluga whale hunt from a boat. Here they are proud of the oldest in Russia, and perhaps in the whole world, the image of a skier.
Scientists argue about the meaning of the images - perhaps these are just pictures of ordinary everyday life, or perhaps they had a mystical meaning.
Museum address. Belomorsk, st. Oktyabrskaya, 5 "A"