Karelia – Russian nature at its best
Fancy seeing the natural side of Russia, but don’t want to travel too far? Then maybe the Republic of Karelia is what you’re looking for.
Karelia is an amazing ‘country of lakes’ in the north-west of the country. Lakes occupy about a third of its area, while nearly half is covered with mighty forests. People come here primarily to enjoy Karelia’s beauty, which is further enhanced by the authentic architecture and traditions of the region. Usually, tourists visit the main city of the republic, Petrozavodsk, and then head for such destinations as Sortavala, another important town in Karelia. However, this tourist favourite has a purely Finnish, European flavour, so you don’t really get much sense of Russia here.
In the National Museum of the Republic of Karelia in Petrozavodsk, you can learn all about the nature and history of this wonderful region. Characters from Karelian mythology come to life in the 'Doll's House' private art gallery. For a long, leisurely walk, there’s Onega embankment with its unusual contemporary sculptures, donated to Petrozavodsk by its sister cities.
The most visited sights in Karelia are the unique wooden churches and buildings from the 18th-19th centuries on the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega. These multi-domed churches were built without a single nail and have been preserved in their original form. Now, the area has been declared a historical and architectural museum-reserve and is protected by UNESCO.
Another ‘island’ attraction is the Valaam Transfiguration Monastery with its snow-white ornate churches and secluded hermitages – small monastic dwellings hidden away in the shady groves of the Valaam archipelago. The huge prehistoric petroglyphs – over 5000 years old – with images of people, animals and birds on the rocky promontories of Lake Onega really fire the imagination, and are well worth a visit.
Then there’s the mighty Kivach waterfall (one of the highest in Europe) along with lots of smaller waterfalls for you to explore. Photographers love to visit the marble canyon and its river, which are found within the Ruskeala Park. The region’s rivers and lakes are ideal for kayaking, offering a great mix of calm waters and turbulent rapids. And anglers will love Karelia, too – the perfect destination for a great day’s fishing.
For all your Karelia travel and accommodation needs, there’s only one place to go – RNTO! Call us today for tailor-made solutions, and explore this fascinating region your way.