Republic of Karelia: the Pearl of the Russian North
The Republic of Karelia is a unique region of Russia concerning in its nature, culture and history. It has the longest border with the European Union (in the west, Karelia borders on Finland), in the North-East it is washed by the White Sea.
By its territory of 180 520 km², which is comparable to Greece or Bulgaria, it ranks the 18th among the Russian regions and the fifth among the republics of the Russian Federation. From the north to the south, its length is 660 km, and from the west to the east it is 424 km. The capital of Karelia is the city of Petrozavodsk, founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. The population of the region is 614 thousand people.
Karelia is famous for its beautiful and diverse nature. It is an ecologically clean region covered with coniferous forests, lakes, rivers, and rocks. More than 25% of the territory is occupied by the water surface: there are about 27,000 rivers and about 60,000 lakes in the republic, including the largest lakes in Europe - Ladoga and Onega. There is no such ratio of land and water surface anywhere else in Russia.
Karelia means white nights, fishing, berry picking and river rafting in summer. In winter, tourists are welcome for skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and enjoying the white open spaces of snow. Karelia is different, and here is the charm it has.
The climate in Karelia allows you visiting both in winter and in summer. A traveler will always have something to do. The region has a wide range of accommodations that meet all hospitality standards, from small forest houses to 4 star hotels.
There are two nature reserves and three national parks, several famous monasteries and ancient villages, sports resorts and cultural sites in the republic.
Kizhi is both the name of an island in Lake Onega and a synonym for the unique beauty that the Russian architects managed to create from wood in the 18th century. The Transfiguration and Intercession churches, sparkling under the northern sun, are the symbols of all Russian wooden architecture. Tourists from all over the world come to Karelia to see these monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Valaam Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery has been the most important place for Orthodox pilgrimage in Russia for centuries.
Anyone who is fond of history will be interested in the most ancient petroglyphs in the North of Europe. These are the rock carvings created by ancient hunters and fishermen and are more than 5 thousand years old.
Those who want to seclude themselves from the hustle and bustle of big cities will enjoy their time off in reserves, national and natural parks.
One of the brightest and most amazing places in Karelia is the Ruskeala mountain park. It is a unique monument of nature and history of mining. The main point of attraction of the Mountain Park is the Marble Canyon. The ancient stone quarry, which was used for almost three centuries, is now equipped for tourists interested in historical heritage and incredibly picturesque views.
The official language of Karelia is Russian. The Karelian, Finnish and Vepsian languages enjoy the state support in the republic.
The economy is based on mining, woodworking, paper industry, metallurgy and mechanical engineering.