The specificity and tourist potential
Nature peculiarities of the region
Historical and cultural potential
Retrospective analysis of tourist activity and infrastructure


The author of the text - Kuchko A. A.

The specificity and tourist potential

Medvezhjegorsky region has some peculiarities, which distinguish it from the other regions of Karelia.

These are:

  • variety of nature and landscape complexes, many of which are very specific and interesting for tourists;
  • richness of historical, architectural, archeological and cultural monuments;
  • easy accessibility for automobile, railroad and water transport;
  • closeness to the largest tourist markets of the country – Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, to Finland and other countries of Scandinavia.


Nature peculiarities of the region

By its relief the territory of Medvezhjegorsky region is divided into four zones, which determines its ruggedness and the variety of geomorphologic forms. Medvezhjegorsk itself is located on the junction of all the zones: to the west from it Onezhsko-Ladozhsky watershed is located, to the north and to the northeast there is Onezhsko-Belomorsky watershed, to the south – Zaonezhsky region and to the east East-Onego plain. A large number of rough rivers and deep lakes is typical for divide territories. The orographic structure of Zaonezhsky peninsula can’t be met anywhere else in Russia or Europe, that’s why it is of great interest for people. This interest will be even more after the acquaintance with the southern skerry part of Zaonezhje, which is a gathering of bays, capes and hundreds of big and small islands (one of the scientists named it Karelian "Hellas").

Talking about Zaonezhsky peninsula, we can’t mention such peculiarity as rise of the mineral waters.

Three springs are very famous:

  • Tsarina's spring, which curing qualities were used by peasants 100 years before the opening of the marcial waters;
  • "Three Ivans" spring, which was hounored as a saint spring, to which pilgrims all over Russia came. The curing qualities of this spring are proved by clinical tests;
  • "Soljanaja pit" spring. The name of this spring is explained with a high level of minaralization. According to a legend, the peasants have extracted salt by evaporation of this water.

Recently the clearing qualities of schungite have been proved by science. The schungite is spread all over Zaonezhje and can’t be met anywhere else. The waters, which move in the cracks of schungite rocks obtain specific curing qualities and can be used as drinking water. Altogether there are 40 sources in Zaonezhje. More than half of them is situated between the bays of Unitskaja and Svjatuha.

The sources of curing water and the beauty of the landscape are the preconditions for creating a helth center on this territory.

The eastern shore of Onego lake has a plain character. Beautiful pinewoods rich with berries and mushrooms can be seen here. The shoreline consists of sandy beaches, bays and channels. These are best places for organization of a fixed rest place.

Because of the variety of nature complexes of the region, there are a lot of territories and objects, which have got a protective status for their scientific or cognitive significance.


Historical and cultural potential

The territory of Medvezhjegorsky region has a long history. The most ancient population of the region were saami (the Lapps). Memory of them is kept in the folk stories and local geograpical names. In late I – early II century ancient Karelian and Vepps came here, in XIII-XIV – the Slavs and Finns. The colonization of the land went peacefully so the people of different nationalities lived together. Nowadays there are two main groups of the population – Russian Zaonezhians and Segozerian Karelians.

Archeologists know the history of the region till the X century. The most famous archeological objects are the complex of burial grounds on the island of South Oleniy (middle Stone Age), where lots of tools of an ancient man had been found, and numerous (more than 50) ancient settlements near the village of Pegrema. The ancient in Europe copper processing shop, tools of material and spiritual culture and the ancient myth "Abouth the world tree", which is 5 thousand years old, have been found here.

Medvezhjegorsky region is also rich with architectural monuments. These are ancient houses, barns, chapels and churches. They are located all over the region. The most well-known monuments are a church in the village of Chelmuzhy (XV century), a church of Barbara in the village of Jandomozero (XVII century) and other unique churches in many villages. Distinctive ancient houses also can be seen here.

These are complexes, which don’t have any analogues in the world culture heritage. Sometimes one can see ensembles of wooden architecture, for example, an architectural complex in the village of Selga, which began to form in XVI century and nowadays is the unique monument of Segozerian Karelians. Known all over the world Kizhi posgost is also located in Medvezhjegorsky region. It is included in the list of World Heritage protected by UNESCO.

On the whole, by the number of cultural and historical monuments Medvezhjegorsky region takes the first place among the other regions of Karelia. The part of cultural heritage of Medvezhjegorsky region in 1992-93 was 19.5%. These are 240 architectural monuments, 65 cultural monuments, 372 archeological monuments and a few historical complexes. Some state can be envious of this richness. Now it’s time for more careful treatment of our cultural and historical heritage. Tourism is as necessary for preserving the monuments, as the monuments themselves are necessary for tourism.

Another peculiarity of Medvezhjegorsky region is numerous historical events, which are deeply intertwined with the history of Russia:

  • trade ways of ancient Novgorodians to the North and to the White Sea crossed the region, later a famous "Tsar’s road" also crossed this territory, nowadays its place of interest is famous Belomoro-Baltic channel;
  • one of the first in the north of Russia monasteries was formed here;
  • mother of the first Russian tsar of Romanov family Enoch Marfa served her exile here;
  • the last troops of Poland and Lithuania, which then came over to Sweden’s side, were crushed by local peasants;
  • the first copper and ironworks were built here;
  • the center of Russian dissenting movement "Vygoretskoe home" have existed here for two centuries;
  • large Shungskaja tradefairs were held here twice a year since XVII century;
  • finally, the outermost front-lines of the civil war crossed the territory of the region.

Zaonezhje played a special role in the history of national culture. Here the best ancient Russian epics and songs were collected. The names of outstanding Zaonezhje tales narrators became well-known – N.Rjabina, V.Schegolenka, I.Kasjanova, I.Fedosova.

Huge cultural, natural and historical potential of the region is completed with the advantages of its geographical location and easy transport accessibility. Being located in the middle part of Karelia, the region is easy to reach both from the border through Vyartsilya – Petrozavodsk or Kostomuksha – Segezha, and from the southern regions of the Russian Federation. Waterway is especially prospective for tourists because it connects the most popular tourist objects like Valaam, Kizhi and Solovki.

It is important to remember that in the nearest future international Blue road of tourism, which connects Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia (Karelia), will go through Medvezhjegorsk. Another international route, which tarts in Norway and through the White Sea and Onego goes to the Baltic Sea and ends in Norway, also crosses the territory of the region.

Ultimately, Medvezhjegorsky region is very prospective for different forms of cultural, cognitive, ecological, scientific and sports tourism. It also has a very favorable geographical location in comparison with other regions of Karelia. It is absurd that nowadays tourism here is not developing. Without question this must be changed as soon as possible.


Retrospective analysis of tourist activity and infrastructure

Since the 70-ies the Bureau of excursion, which was included in the system of trade union tourism, was functioning in Medvezhjegorsk. Its activities were quite various: it organized almost all kinds of excursion, cultural and cognitive tourism (around the city, to Segozerian Karelians, to Kizhi and so on), water tourism (rafting and canoeing), and ski tourism. The staff of the bureau was high educated, but there was almost no equipment. The bureau catered for Russian tourists mainly. However, about 20-30 thousand tourists visit the region annually (except Kizhi).

After the reform started, the system of trade union tourism was destroyed. A joint-stock company “Karhu” took the place of the Bureau. The company offered a very wide spectrum of services not only in the region, but on the neighboring territories also (Solovki, Marcial waters, Petrozavodsk, Pudozh e.t.c.). However, because there was no tourist infrastructure, no support from the local authorities and lack of finances, the company collapsed four years later.

During the last 4-5 years there was no any regular tourist activity in the region, though many citizens understand its necessity. What should we start with? The experience of other Karelian regions shows that companies, which have their own accommodation, are most profitable.

The territory of Medvezhjegorsky region has been historically divided into 3 parts: northwestern – Segozerje, northeastern – Vygoretsija and southern – Zaonezhje. Each of them must have its own tourist product.

In Segozerje, the center of which can be Padany or Selgi, the tourist industry can be based on the showing of traditions and customs of local Karelians, which represent the ethic group between Northern (Kalevala) and Southern (Olonets) Karelians. They were also influenced by Russian Zaonezhians. The other part of the tourist product may be water tourism – rafting and canoeing down the lakes and rivers.

The routes of any difficulty category are possible here. The rivers of Voloma (120 km, 20 rapids, 9 lakes), Tumba (120 km through the lake of Seletskoe), Porusta (70 km, 20 rapids), Oster and Kumsa are already popular. The valleys of these rivers are very picturesque with lots of rises of rock.

In this part of the region there is a wonderful Talaja Lampi lake, which has very warm water and a high level of mineralization. With time it may become the object of tourist pilgrimage, as well as a nameless waterfall near the lake of Elmozero.

The territory, which might be conditionally called Vygoretsia, is interested for its history. It may be divided into two parts: the zone of Vyg river and the zone of Belomoro-Baltic channel. The first one is rich with the monuments, connected with the split of the Orthodox Church. The second one is interesting for the technical object of the Belomoro-Baltic channel, many of which are unique. In due course a special excursion “Staircase to the White Sea” has been worked out here and now it must be revived. The territory of Vygoretsia is interesting also for pedestrian routes aroung the dissinters’ hermitages and for rafting down the rivers of Verkhniy Vyg and Nemina.



The territory of Zaonezhje is of a special interest for tourists. The essence of this name is best of all reflected in the following phrase: "immensely small Zaonezhje". This region is unique for its historical monuments, gifted tale narrators, nature resources and landscapes. There is a beautiful waterfall on this territory.

Two excursions are not enough to get aquatinted with this wonderful land. It is better to spend a week or two here to visit all the corners of Zaonezhje. The scientists of Karelia made this offer in the early 90-ies. Special scientific grounds, which proved the necessity of creating a nature park on the territory of Zaonezhje, were worked out. Its borders were also lined out. The future park will be located between Putkozero lake and Lizhemskaja bay on the area of 90 thousand hectares, one third of which is water area.

The main purposes of nature parks:

  • preserving nature landscape;
  • saving cultural and historical objects;
  • saving the traditional mode of life of the local population;
  • organizing tourist reception.

Taking these into consideration, nature park in Zaonezhje will contribute to preserving the originality of the land and its economic development.

Special attention should be pair to the development of active kinds of tourism in the park: canoeing, skiing, horse-riding, and so on. All the routes include visits to the cultural and historical places of interest. A certain infrastructure and information provision should be organized.

Nature park "Zaonezhsky" and museum of Kizhi will make two self-dependent tourist centers, which will complete each other. Their relations will be based on contract basis. Moreover, nowadays the museum is autonomic to the region and orientates itself only to Petrozavodsk, while the nature park will contribute to its re-orientation to Zaonezhje by attracting tourists on its territory.

In future the nature park may become a health center for there are sources of curing water on its territory.

The other key point in the tourist opening up Zaonezhje may be connected with the location of the territory, which is situated by Onego lake – the second large in Europe. If there is a huge ecologically friendly lake, then it is rich with fish. Onego lake is inhabited with such valuable fish species as salmon, zander, pike, perch, whitefish and umber. Thus, it is possible to organize an international fishing center, for which cultural and historical objects of the territory will also be important.

The program of organization of the center in Zaonezhje has been developed by the local citizens A. Kuznetsov and J. Greinberg in 1996. They proved that this would be a profitable enterprise. However, because there is no start capital, the project is still on the paper. Local authorities must pay more attention o the program.

There are a lot of villages attractive with their architecture and famous folk ensembles in the region. They may become the objects of tourist showings. Of course, proper advertising is necessary. Involving the villages in the tourist show will provide for their spiritual revival. Some objects of Medvezhjegorsk city and its and of its outskirts – historical buildings, monuments, memorials and museums – must also participate in the program.

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