For ages Sortavala area has been attractive to settle for its exceptional geographic location as well as a beneficial nature. In XII century on a hill near the confluence of Tohmajoki and Helylajoki rivers ancient Karelians founded a reinforced site (linnamaki) of Paaso ancient settlement, later it was destroyed by Swedes. In the document of 1500 Karelian Nickolsko-Serdovolsky pogost on Riekkalansaari island was mentioned for the first time. In 1632 near this churchyard on the shore of Lappajarvi Sordavalla town was founded.

The official document of the town foundation origins back to 1646. Lands around the town consolidated in a county of the Banners. In 1657 Sordavalla was raised to county’s town house but in 1681 the county was liquidated. Sordavalla town’s emblem was based on the Banners’ family emblem.

In January 1705 during the North War Sordavalla city was occupied by Russian forces for 3 days. According to Nischtad Peace Treaty of 1721 the town passed to Russia and was renamed to Serdobol. During the war of 1742-1743 Swedes seized Serdobol and burned it to ashes.

In 1783 by the decree of Ekatherine II Serdobol became a chief town of the district in Vyborg province and in 1811 together with the whole province proceeded to Finnish Grand Duchy. After declaration of independence of Finland the town got a name of Sortavala.

During Winter War the town was bombed by Soviet aviation. As a result of the war under the treaty of March 12 1940 Sortavala passed to USSR. Nowadays Sortavala and its suburbs is an administrative unit of Republic of Karelia.

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