The Republic of Karelia is located in the north-west of the Russian Federation, bordering Finland. In 1703, when the Northern War of Russia was conducted with Sweden, in the lower course of the Lososinka River, which flows into Onega Lake, by decree of Peter I, a cast iron smelter was laid. Over time, around it grew a settlement, in which the craftsmen lived with their families, which was called Petrovskaya. In 1777 it was transformed into the city of Petrozavodsk.
Today Petrozavodsk is the capital of Karelia. It is located on the shore of Lake Onega – the second largest in Europe. Its length is more than 200 km., The maximum depth is 127 m., The area is nearly 10 thousand square kilometers.
In the northern part of Onega Lake there is a small island of Kizhi, about 6 km long. Now there is the State Historical, Architectural and Ethnographic Museum-Reserve “Kizhi”. The main attraction of the reserve is rightly considered the Kizhi architectural ensemble, which is a real masterpiece of Russian wooden architecture. It includes the majestic twenty-two-headed Church of the Transfiguration, the Ten-headed Church of the Intercession, the tent belfry and the church fence.
Despite the fact that these buildings differ from each other in style and construction time, they form a single artistic whole. Another advantage of the wooden ensemble is its organic fusion with nature. Architecture enhances the beauty of the landscape and vice versa. In addition to these buildings, the open-air museum includes various religious buildings and dwellings dating back to the 14th-19th centuries. All of them were transported to Kizhi from various regions of Karelia.
Lake Ladoga is the largest inland water body in Europe. Its length from south to north is 220 km., 80 km wide. The depth in some places exceeds 200 m., The area is 17.7 thousand square kilometers. The Ladoga River flows into the Volga and Svir rivers, from which the beautiful Neva flows. The shores of the lake are very diverse – the northwest coast is rocky, rugged by deep narrow bays resembling miniature Norwegian fjords.
The north-eastern shore of Ladoga is lower, the rocks alternate with sandy areas, sometimes overgrown with pine forest. The south-western and southern shores of the lake are low, covered with pebbles and boulders, there are thickets of reeds and reeds.
The steep banks of the Valaam archipelago, which includes over fifty islands, rose above the Ladoga with steep cliffs. The largest island of this archipelago – Valaam is famous for its ancient monastery. Some church historians consider the time of the foundation of the Valaam monastery X century. In the 14th – 16th centuries it was the largest monastery in the north of Russia. Valaam is interesting both for the unique beauty of nature and for the creations of human hands – cathedrals, monasteries, chapels built on islands by monks.
On the White Sea, at the entrance to Onega Bay, a group of Solovetsky islands rises, on which are located the famous Solovetsky Monastery and its sketes, chapels, residential and farm buildings. This monastery-fortress was both a defensive outpost of Russia and a place of exile. Now Solovetsky is a historical, architectural and natural museum-reserve.
There are many more places of interest in Karelia – this is an amazingly beautiful and fertile land, which is interesting to see and where you can relax and forget about work, everyday worries, bustle and noise of the city, find peace of mind. Nature is rich in forests and lakes with rocky shores (both large – Ladoga and Onega lakes, and small, small lakes are called lambushkas). The settlements are rather rare, which is unusual for people coming from big cities or densely populated areas.
It seems that you get to a remote corner of Russia, with “dense” forests and impenetrable swamps. But this pristine and unspoiled nature is the main component of the charm of rest in Karelia. Few places in Russia near St. Petersburg and not very far from Moscow you can find such beautiful places, clean air and various opportunities for recreation – hiking in the forest for mushrooms and berries, fishing and hunting, as well as visiting the sights of the region.
Rest in Karelia is of interest both for tourists who prefer rest “savages”, and for people who do not want to part with the blessings of civilization – to their services various recreation centers, hotels, park hotels with a corresponding range of services.