Places we hope to visit in 2014

 

1. Lake Lagoda: Shlisselburg/ Orescheck Fortress and Museum

Medieval Fortess “Oreshek” best

The Medieval Fortess of Shlisselburg, also known as “Oreshek” by Russians and Noteborg by Swedes, occupies an island in Lake Ladoga at the head of the River Neva. It was at one time a vital strategic location in territorial and trade disputes between Sweden and the medieval principality of Novgorod Velikiy.

The island was first fortified by Prince Yuri of Novogrod in 1323. It changed hands several times over the next four centuries, before being captured by Peter the Great at the beginning of the Northern Wars of 1700-21, after which it was deep in Russian territory and turned into a prison during Tsarist rule. Among the famous inmates over the years were Peter the Great’s half-sister Maria, the boy-Tsar Ivan VI, and members of the Decembrist Uprising and the Narodnaya Volya – “People’s Will” – terrorist organization responsible for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.

Most of what you see today dates to the 16th century, including the Tsar’s Tower, through which visitors enter the fortress. A New Prison, built in 1884, has been transformed into an unusual memorial to the defense of Shlisselburg against the Nazis, when the fortress held out against continual artillery shelling for nearly 500 days during the Siege of Leningrad. The prison held – among others – Lenin’s brother, Alexander Ulyanov, who was hanged for treason in 1887. A plaque to Ulyanov can be found at the spot in the prison yard where he was executed.

 

2. Kizhi Island, Lake Onega

Kizhi Island, Northern Lake Onega, is one of the 1650 islands in Lake Onega and a UNESCO world heritage site. There are 89 wooden buildings of the XV-XX Centuries including churches, houses and famous ensemble of the ancient churchyard and the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus (XIV Century). The Church of Transfiguration was built without a single nail and is 37 metres high. The temple has 22 domes with crosses, covered with a silvery scale. The Kizhi Meum Reserve also has many 18th and 19th Century log buildings, some furnished in period style, mostly moved here from Karelian villages during Soviet times. There are hydrofoil connections to and from Petrozavodsk

 

3. Petrozavodsk, Lake Onega

The capital of Russian Karelia is well-connected by air, train and bus.  The Airport is 12 km outside the city, and has flights from Moscow-Domodedovo, Helsinki, and St Petersburg.

Petrozavodsk

The city is 9 hours by train from St Petersburg, and there are day and night trains leaving from Ladozhsky station, a second class sleeper ticket will cost about 1100 RUB. Moscow is 16 hours away on a over-night service from the Leningradsky station with second class tickets costing from 2200 RUB.). There are also bus services from Saint Petersburg daily with Avokzal [1] and a international connection from Helsinki (Incoming Finland) on Fridays and Sundays taking 11.5 hours. The railway station is located at the southern end of Leninsky Prospekt, which cuts through the center of town all the way to the embankment on Lake Onego. It is about a 30 minute walk from the station to the lake.

The town is of modest size, and easily walkable. A taxi anywhere in town costs 100 Rubles or less. Buses run frequently along the major routes.

Petrozovodsk has the Musical and Russian Drama Theatre, neoclassical architecture, the lake and its shore, a fine main theatre, the beautiful Finnish theatre, an outdoor market with typical food and, nearby,  Kivach Waterfalls and the . While not as impressive as the Niagara Falls, Kivach is close by and Martial Waters which has several natural springs which are said to be very good for your health. There are also resorts nearby.  There are also Karelian wooden artworks – Karelian birch is of particular beauty and skilled artists add to its value as well. For foodies, you can try lots of local dishes, including bear meat, elk meatballs and a range of locally caught fresh fish at Karelskaya Gornitsa. The restaurant is pleasantly furnished, with a log cabin feel and waitresses in traditional dress. Prices are rather high though. The FM-Art Kafe is a large student-orientated basement underneath the Philharmonia, with music ranging from Jazz to Folk and Indie. Kaffee haus is alleged to have the best coffee and cakes. Like its surrounding region, it remains sentimentally attached to Finland and Norway for historical reasons.

The Solovetsky Islands (Solovki), White Sea, Russia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its Monasteries and for being one of Stalin’s cruellest prison camps, described by Solzhenitzyn’s ‘Gulag Archpelago’ as being so remote that a “scream from here would never be heard”.

Solovetsky Islands

Other than the Transfiguration Monastery, dating from 1429, and the Transfiguration Cathedral dating from 1566,  and many other churches and towers, there is (surprisingly) a Botanic Garden where Monks grow fruits and vegetables, villages, lakes , forests and islands to visit.

 

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