The Republic of Karelia is a federal subject of Russia, located in the northwest of the country. It is a unique region with a very favorable geopolitical position, rich natural and recreational resources, and centuries-old cultural and historical heritage. All these factors make Karelia a very special touristic zone, which every year attracts thousands of Russian and international tourists.
The total area of Karelia is 180, 5 thousands sq. km, and more than 50% of this territory is covered with forests (Karelia’s second name is “The lungs of Europe”). About 26% of the territory is covered with huge amount of rivers (27 000) and lakes (63 000). There are two European biggest lakes – Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. Thanks to developed system of rivers and lakes, boating and lakeside vacation are very popular in Karelia.
More than one million hectares of land, or 5.6% of total area of the republic, are specially protected natural sites: national parks, nature reserves, 46 wildlife preserves, 108 natural monuments. There are plenty of beautiful natural landscapes. One hundred kilometers from Petrozavodsk on river Suna there is the largest in Europe lowland Kivach waterfalls. All these factors promote development of eco-tourism and recreation in Karelia. The first in Russia Marcial Waters spa established by emperor Peter I is located in 50 km from Petrozavodsk.
Forests, lakes and rivers open up perfect opportunities for quiet vacation in Karelia out in the country and for active tourism such as hunting, fishing, safaris on snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles, rafting, canoeing and boating, eco-tours and jeep-safaris.
There are not only natural, but also cultural and historical tourist attractions in Karelia. Among them there are Kizhi architectural museum, the Holy-Transfiguration Valaam Monastery, Karelian petroglyphs (on the White Sea and on the Lake Onego), Lappish stone labyrinths and seids. On the territory of Karelia there is the shortest and the most convenient way to Solovetsky Islands and to the architectural ensemble of Solovetsky Monastery.
Karelia is a unique cultural area because of its edge position between the East and the West, between orthodox Slavic and catholic German worlds. The main unifying factor for that region was the Orthodox religion.
Cultural centre of Karelia is the city of Petrozavodsk, which is the capital of the republic. There are concentrated the most important cultural facilities: libraries, museums, theatres, concert halls, educational institutions.
Handicrafts are highly developed in Karelia. Traditional handicrafts are: basketry, embroidery, weaving, woodcarving, jewelry and pottery.
There are many opportunities in Karelia for recreation and development of cultural, educational, natural, ecological, sports, water and rural tourism. This area is highly valued by Russian tourists as an ideal place for fishing and for spending winter holidays.
Russian North has always been famous for its natural beauty. Located in the northern part of Ladoga Lake, the Valaam archipelago, consisting of more than 50 islands, is not an exception. The sheer cliffs, taking on the mighty Ladoga waves, and the quiet peace of the internal lakes, centuries-old spruce and pine trees, opposing the cold winds, and the discreet beauty of bright alleys and gardens, the austere grandeur of the pristine northern nature and the originality of architectural ensembles - all this gives to Valaam, also known historically by the Finnish name Valamo, a unique look of the most beautiful islands of the world. However the earthly beauty of these places is also a visible reflection of the beauty of an unearthly, spiritual. For all Orthodox people, Valaam is inconceivable without its ancient monastic monastery, which for centuries was the spiritual center of Orthodox Russia and was rightly called the North Athos!
In the Transfiguration Cathedral you will see many Orthodox shrines: the relics of famous miracle workers and revered icons (one of them was painted and consecrated on Mount Athos). You’ll get acquainted with the main objects of the central estate of the monastery and you can visit the concert of the monastery choir, the singing of which immerses you even better in the amazing energy of the island.
The island is permanently inhabited by monks and their families. In 1999, there were about 600 residents on the main island; including army service personnel, restoration workers, guides and monks.
A trip to the island is living out of a special experience, the experience of strong impressions of the acute beauty of the north, the atmosphere of the mysteries of ancient monasteries and timeless detachment.