Lakes occupy about a third of republic’s area, and almost half of it occupy mighty forests.
The authentic architecture and traditions of Karelia add more charm to the region. Usually, tourists arrive in the main city of the republic – Petrozavodsk, and then drive to the corners of interest. Sortavala is another important city of Karelia, but it has purely Finnish, European flavour, and you can hardly feel Russia there.
The brightest attraction of Karelia is the unique wooden churches and buildings of the XVIII-XIX centuries on the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega. Many-domed churches were built without a single nail and saved their original form. Now this territory is declared a historical and architectural museum-reserve and is protected by UNESCO.
Another attraction is the Valaam Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery with snow-white elegant churches and secluded monasteries hidden in the shady groves of the Valaam archipelago. The enormous primitive petroglyphs with images of people, animals and birds on the rocky headlands of Lake Onega are striking: they are more than 5000 years old.
Here is the mighty Kivach waterfall (one of the highest in Europe) and many smaller waterfalls. Photographers are fascinated by the water-filled marble canyon of Ruskeala Park. Picturesque rivers and lakes are perfect for kayaking, both calm and extreme. And fishermen love Karelia for its excellent nibble: here even a beginner can boast a rather big catch.
In the National Museum of the Republic of Karelia, you can learn more about the nature and history of this marvellous land. Still the main “target” for photographs on the embankment, of course, is Lake Onega, the boundless distance of which beckons, like thousands of years ago.