Karelia is a unique world that amazes with its majestic nature and mystery.
To this day, there are untouched rivers, lakes and forests, the cleanest in Europe. And it is not for nothing that tourists come here who have escaped from the stone jungle for a breath of the purest air, for the beautiful nature that caresses the eyes.
But not only amazing landscapes attract tourists here, the culture of this unique place, a fusion of northern Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes, is quite mysterious and mysterious. For example, Mount Vottovaara, considered sacred. In its vicinity there are seid stones, which were worshiped by local residents. They argue that if you perform the pagan ritual "karyala-aho" near them, you can see the demi-people-demigods who lived in those days, perhaps even the Atlanteans, through many centuries.
It's a fairy tale or not, judge for yourself, but mysterious and inexplicable phenomena occur in the vicinity of this mountain, which only enhances the mystery of this place. However, you can learn more about everything in the numerous books sold in Petrozavodsk or Medvezhyegorsk.
In Karelia, there are also preserved monuments of wooden architecture, the famous island of Kizhi, Valaam, founded by Andrew the First-Called, a monastery on Ladoga.
Well, now let's go down to earth and deal with this edge in more detail.
First of all, tourists come here for active, cultural and ecological tourism thanks to the numerous historical and cultural monuments, virgin nature and vast spaces, where no human has set foot (at least not "left behind").
Water tourism lovers come here, who are waiting for a variety of entertainments here, ranging from cruise ships along Ladoga and Onega Lake to rafting on mountain rivers lasting from several hours to a week.
Motorists and cyclists, fishermen and hunters travel here. Jeep tours passing along the old roads connecting the once ancient Karelian villages are quite popular.
A tourist-hunter is drawn here by a huge wealth of diverse fauna. The license, which can be obtained from the regional offices of the State Committee for Hunting of Karelia, will allow you to hunt elk, wild boar, bear, beaver, and from birds, black grouse and wood grouse. However, the number of licenses is limited, and without it, hunting is possible for hares, foxes, minks, squirrels, ducks, hazel grouses, etc. For tourists, beginners or those who love comfort, there are hunting tours with meals and accommodation.
Tourists - fishermen go, first of all, to the promoted brand - Lake Syamozero, where comfortable conditions are created. In the center and in the north of Karelia there are rivers with good fishing for salmon, grayling and whitefish. Fishing is popular both on Pyaozero and on Lake Onega.
Winter also does not stop a tourist who wants to come here, interests simply change. At this time, lovers of all kinds of skiing go, you can ride a lot on snowmobiles, dogs or deer.
Ruskeala. Photo: Alisa Agranovich
The Center for the Development of Social Tourism has developed and decided to test one of the possible routes for a short trip in Karelia. The experiment involved people of the older generation, heads of public organizations (mainly associated with pensioners, veterans and people with disabilities) and journalists, who are also not the youngest. The average age of the tourists turned out to be about 50+, the most vigorous participant of the trip (it turned out in the process) turned 80 years old long ago.
For two days we walked along mountain roads, descended into grottoes and dungeons, swayed on rope bridges over the waterfall, listened to Karelian speech, took pictures with a live owl and a wooden owl, ate, drank, slept and talked. The two-day bus route from Petrozavodsk to Sortavala with stops in the most interesting places turned out to be comfortable, interesting and affordable for our team.
The first day of the trip included an acquaintance with the House of the Karelian language in the village of Vedlozero, a stop at the Cross of Sorrow in the Pitkyaranta region, an excursion to the museum complex "Owl's Mountain" and a festive dinner at the Sortavala hotel "Piipun Piha" on the very shore of the lake ... The second day was multi-colored: the pale palette of the Akhinkoski waterfall was replaced by the lights of Ruskeala and the iridescent light of the "Point on the map" complex. The sightseeing tour of the snow-covered Sortavala strengthened the idea of returning here, so that later, like Nicholas Roerich, he would start a new life.
At the intersection of the main roads - to school, hospital and post office - there is a large House of the Karelian language on a hill, built thanks to the persistence of local residents and popular support.
The House of the Karelian Language smells of pine and pastries. The rooms are large, stylish, few things - everything to the point. In the living room, Nina Barmina, the hostess of the House of the Karelian Language, tells us how people first tried to renovate the old building that stood on this place in order to make here a center for meeting different generations of Karelian families and preserving traditions and language. Activists gathered every week to clean up the trash, patch up the roof, and tidy up the floor. They worked until the students-architects from Finland carried out an examination of the building, which showed that the building in the future is not a tenant and needs to be demolished.
- We were upset: a lot of money was needed for the new building. But, in the end, the activists of the House of the Karelian Language turned to the local administration with a request to help demolish the old building. We were refused. Well, the people got up, gathered all the tractors, all their cars, people took out shovels, axes and got down to business. In August 2013, there was already an empty space here. We counted the collected money and decided that we could start building the construction site. In autumn, the foundation was poured and a capsule was laid with an appeal to the future generation studying the Karelian language. They began to raise the building, and by the end of spring 2014 there were already walls. By the spring, funds had come for the roof. All this time, children, adults, grandmothers came here to help in construction. We became participants in many events, some pies and gates were sold for 350 thousand. People sent money from everywhere. By the winter of 2015, we managed to open two rooms, ”says Nina Barmina.
In fact, children in the "nest" are very comfortable and fun. Photo: IA "Respublika"/Anna Grinevich
Now in the House of the Karelian language there are 10 sections: in five circles, residents of the village of Vedlozero are engaged in needlework, there is a health group, language courses, a theater and even a kindergarten. The language nest - the Karelian kindergarten - is the greatest pride of the activists. There are 9 people in a group from one and a half to six years. Two teachers speak with children only in Karelian. According to Nina Barmina, the smallest begin to understand the language in two weeks.
I told in detail about the House of the Karelian language "Respublika" in the project "Lessons of Karelian".
Vadim Gavrilenko looks like an actor from a Soviet film. On the territory of the Mount Filina complex, which he built on the outskirts of the city of Lahdenpohja, there are also many artifacts related to art: wood sculptures, installations along the route, decoration of museum expositions dedicated to the geology of Karelia and military history.
Rural tourism is a popular form of recreation and a good opportunity to preserve the traditional way of life of rural settlements. In Europe, this direction is very much in demand.