Sortavala, Russia

By | June 24, 2022

According to printerhall, Sortavala is the second tourist center of Karelia, because it is from it that excursions around the Valaam archipelago begin . Sortavala is located 42 km from the archipelago. Tourist boats and boats run from here to Valaam. The very path from Sortavala to Valaam is a whole excursion, during which you can see small islands covered with forests, sheer cliffs, bays, straits and inter-island lakes. Local sunsets of extraordinary beauty will remain forever in memory. The Valaam archipelago is one of the most popular attractions in Russia, where the historical and cultural heritage of the country is presented.

In the city of Sortavala there are many attractions. Lappäjärvi Bay divides the city into two parts – northern and southern. They are interconnected by the Karelian bridge. The construction of the bridge ended in 1931, at the time it was the longest bridge in Finland. The historical center of the city is located in the northern part of the city, the pier is also located here, from where they go to Valaam. In the southern part of the Old Town, not far from the Karelian Bridge, is the triangular Väinämöinen Square. The city hall (1907), the Finnish Bank (1915) and a monument to the rune singer Petri Shemeikka are located on the square. The bronze sculpture by Petri Shemeikke was installed in 1935 on the centenary of the first edition of the Kalevala epic. Kalevala – Karelian-Finnish poetic epic, which links together folk songs – runes. Karelskaya Street originates from Väinämöinen Square, on which most of the architectural sights of the Old Town of the 19th and 20th centuries are located. Toward the end of Karelskaya Street stands the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The church was built in 1873 with the money of the merchants Eliseevs and became one of the first stone buildings in the city. Among the oldest buildings in the northern part of Sortavala, one can also single out the buildings of the former City Administration, which now houses the library (1885), the former lyceum (1901) and the former house of the People’s Bank (1905). On Komsomolskaya Street, the Exhibition Hall of Kronid Alexandrovich Gogolev, one of the few masters of relief woodcarving in Russia, is interesting known all over the world. Of the architectural sights of the southern part, the buildings of the former seminary (1880), the Hospital (1898) and the former hospital of the society of sisters of mercy (1907) stand out. The Regional Museum and Tourist Center of the Northern Ladoga Region is also located here. The museum was founded in 1992 and became the first museum in the Northern Ladoga region. Nowadays, ethnographic, artistic and historical collections are presented here. Museum objects date from the 13th century to the present day. 3 km from Sortavala in Taruniemi is Dr. Winter’s dacha, which today houses an elite hotel. South of Sortavala on the island of Riekkalansari, the wooden church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker has been preserved. It was built between the 18th and 19th centuries and was the only Orthodox church in the vicinity of the city.

To the north of Sortavala, just a few kilometers from the city, near the village of Helyulya, one of the most interesting archaeological sites of the Northern Ladoga region is located – the Karelian fortified settlement of Paaso. Paaso Fortress was built in the 12th century on the 83 m high Paasonvuori mountain to protect against attacks by the Swedes. In the 13th century, for unknown reasons, the settlement was wiped off the face of the Earth. On the site of the settlement, archaeologists have found objects of agriculture, pottery and jewelry crafts that are about a thousand years old.

17 km north of Sortavala on the river Tohmajoki there are picturesque Ruskeala waterfalls. They are small rapids with a height difference of about 2 m. The highest waterfall is the Ryumäkoski waterfall, 7 m high. In the vicinity of the waterfalls, there is a small lake and many boulders brought by the glacier. The Tohmajoki River together with the Janisjoki River are one of the main tourist attractions of the Sortavala region. They originate in Finland and flow into Ladoga. There are many rapids and low waterfalls on these rivers, which attract rafting enthusiasts here. Ruskeala village is located not far from the Ruskeala waterfalls.. It is first mentioned in Swedish documents under 1500. The village has long been known for its marble deposits. Even the Swedes in the 17th century were mining it here. Ruskeala marble was used in the decoration of the Kazan and St. Isaac’s Cathedrals in St. Petersburg. Currently, along the left bank of the Tokhmajoki River, three open pit mines have been formed in place of old workings. The quarries are cut by a system of mines, galleries and drifts and are partially flooded with water. In 2005, “Ruskeala Mountain Park” was founded on this site.. The central place in the park is occupied by the Marble Canyon, surrounded by sheer marble cliffs. Along its perimeter there is a hiking trail with viewing platforms from where you can admire the emerald water of the canyon. In addition, boats are offered here in order to swim around the quarry. Marble Canyon will be interesting for diving enthusiasts. Underwater visibility here is about 10 m, the depth of immersion ranges from 5 to 15 m. At the bottom of the quarry, you can see blocks of marble, trucks and wheels and explore numerous adits. On the territory of the park there are several monuments of industrial architecture – this is an old office building made of marble in the style of classicism, and lime kilns. There is an active quarry in the park, where you can get acquainted with the process of marble extraction.

If you go even further north to the Russian-Finnish border, then you will get to the international checkpoint “Vyartsilya”. Through it passes the road to the Scandinavian countries, which is called the “Blue Road”.

20 km east of Sortavala in the direction of Petrozavodsk, the village of Kiryavalahti is interesting., which is located on the shores of the eponymous bay of Lake Ladoga. Here is an architectural monument – the dacha of the pharmacist Jaskeläinen. It was built in 1935 by a Finnish architect at the foot of a cliff. From the rear, the cottage is surrounded by dense coniferous forests, and its facade overlooks the bay. The interior of the house is very beautiful. The walls here are made of black logs, the ceiling is decorated with matt beams, there is an old fireplace, and a monumental staircase leads to the second floor. Today, Jaskeläinen’s dacha is used as a hotel. Behind it, a little to the north, on the shore of Lake Haukkajärvi, Mount Petsivaara rises . This is the highest point of the Northern Ladoga region (187 m). Hiking trails are laid on the mountain, and a beautiful view opens from its top.

Sortavala region is known for its unique nature. This is the land of small bays, islands, cliffs, waterfalls, lakes and forests. The rocky islands of the region, one of which are the islands of the Valaam archipelago, are called Ladoga skerries. This is a unique natural area formed by the action of a glacier. Now projects are being developed to create a national park “Ladoga Skerries”. Many species of fish live in the waters of Lake Ladoga, the most valuable of which are salmon – salmon, trout, grayling, pike perch and whitefish, which attracts fishing enthusiasts. To the south of the Sortavala region is the Lakhdenpokh region which is also famous for nature. However, local skerries and coastal cliffs are better known among lovers of wild and extreme tourism, official tourist routes do not pass through the area.

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