KArelia republic – республика карелия

The Republic of Karelia is one of the most scenic and environmentally clean regions of Russia. More than half of it is forest, and a quarter is water, including Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga, the two largest lakes in Europe. It is highly desirable to have your own vehicle to travel about Karelia.

Petrozavodsk – петрозаводск

Petrozavodsk the capital of Karelia was founded by Peter the Great in 1703. It literally means "Peter's factory". Factories built here by Peter produced armaments he needed to wage wars against Sweden. Today Petrozavodsk is a lovely city set on the shore of Lake Onega.

Peter is pointing to the spot where he wants the city to be built.

The lakeside promenade calls for a stroll.

The eye-catching Fishermen statue was presented to Petrozavodsk by its twin-city Duluth, Minnesota, USA.

This hardly understandable composition was presented to Petrozavodsk by its twin-city Tuebingen, Germany.

The Musical Theatre and a statue of Sergey Kirov a prominent revolutionary.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

wooden churches of kizhi – кижи

Kizhi Island in Lake Onega houses a UNESCO World Heritage Site: a magnificent ensemble of wooden churches built in the early 18th century without using a single nail.  A not-to-be-missed site for anyone interested in the old Russian architecture. The island is accessible by hydrofoil from Petrozavodsk.

The Kizhi Enclosure layout.

The 1714 Transfiguration Church has 23 domes.

Next is the 1764 nine-domed Church of the Intercession.

The 1862 bell tower stands between the two churches.

The Intercession Church has a collection of icons.

Other wooden buildings typical for this area have been collected from around Lake Onega. For instance this house of a rich peasant.

The Chapel of the Archangel Michael.

The 14th century Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus may be the oldest wooden building in Russia.

valaam – валаам

The island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga is a home for the 14th century Transfiguration Monastery. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. For pilgrims and tourists Valaam is accessible by hydrofoil from the town of SortavalaThe island itself is very beautiful with many bays and headlands.

The 1407 Transfiguration Cathedral is the centerpiece of the monastery.

solovki – соловки

The Solovetsky Islands, often referred to as Solovki, sit in cold waters of the White Sea. Solovki administratively belong to Arkhangelsk Oblast but easier accessible from the territory of Karelia. By boat from Rabocheostrovsk (Рабочеостровск) 10 km northeast of Kem (Кемь).


The old wooden berth from where a small steamer sails daily to Solovki in high season (late May - early September).

The 15th century Solovetsky Transfiguration Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entry gate to the monastery.
The 1558 Transfiguration Cathedral.
Tony Childs from California is very happy to visit the monastery.
In 1922, the first labor camp for "enemies of the people" was set up in Solovki, remnants of which are still present on the islands. It was prototype of the infamous GULAG. Prisoners were kept in harsh conditions.  In a small park there is a simple memorial cross and a stone bearing a short inscription: "To the Solovetsky Prisoners".

In 1942-44 the monastery housed a navy school for young sailors. About 5,000 14-16 year old boys were trained as motorists, radio operators, electricians. Many of them took part in the northern convoys. More than one thousand died at sea. This small monument commemorates the boys.

White whales or belugas gather to breed off Solovki. You are likely to spot some belugas when crossing from Kem.

Feeding sea gulls is passengers' favorite pastime.

kivach waterfall – водопад кивач

The Kivach Waterfall is about 80 km north of Petrozavodsk and is easily accessible by road. It is almost 11 m high.

petroglyphs – петроглифы

A reach collection of ancient and very interesting petroglyphs can be found near the town of Belomorsk. Directions:  when driving by the main road north towards Murmansk, turn right in the direction of Belomorsk. After about 36 km turn left, drive about one km, park the car and walk about 2 km.

Prehistoric skiers.

Chasing moose skiing downhill.