22 best sights of Petrozavodsk – description and photos

Petrozavodsk: ghost factory, modern art and northern lights

Petrozavodsk is the largest city in Karelia, one of the most picturesque and original regions of Russia. Here you can see white nights and the bright northern lights, ride a dog sled or raft down the river on an old wooden ship.

I’ll tell you about my discoveries made within the city, as well as the centers of tourist attraction: what to see, where to eat, how to get there and where to go for a walk.

What to see in Petrozavodsk: the main attractions and surprises of the city

Petrozavodsk stretches for 22 km along the Onega Lake, the second largest lake in Europe. The city appeared on the site of a metallurgical plant, which in 1703 opened by Peter I. A little later a weapons factory began to operate nearby. The enterprises served not only the needs of the army, but also gave jobs and protection to residents.

Plant buildings have not survived to this day, but made adjustments to the layout of the city: most of the important from a cultural and historical point of view, are concentrated near the waterfront.

The building of the railway station

The railway station is one of the most important symbols of Petrozavodsk. From here most guests of the city and the Republic begin to get acquainted with Karelia.

In its present form the station was opened in March 1955. The building, crowned with a high spire, is made in the style of late neoclassicism. The walls of the station are decorated with stucco and Corinthian order colonnade.

The location of the station set the direction of the city’s main street, Lenin Avenue. Source: commons.wikimedia.org


Five minutes from the station is the building of Petrozavodsk State University, the leading educational institution in Karelia. The ensemble of academic buildings and research centers occupies an entire block, it also includes the Botanical Garden, located on the northern shore of the Petrozavodsk Bay of Lake Onega.

In front of the PetrSU building there is a remarkable composition – a stele with a boat, a fountain and a sculpture “Fullerene Molecule”. The author chose this type of molecule for a reason: the molecular compound “fullerene” was found in the unique healing mineral shungite, which is mined only in Karelia.

Wooden buildings on Lenin Avenue

There are also three wooden buildings, which are in red and white color scheme. The first two were built in 1917 for the administration of the Murmansk Railway. The main reason of these buildings is that they have not been damaged at all during the Second World War, unlike many stone buildings in Petrozavodsk. The third building behind Friedrich Engels Street was built in the 1930s for the Karelles Trust.

Today part of the premises is rented by cafe and store owners. Wooden buildings in this style can be found in other cities of Karelia.

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Architectural appearance bears features of northern wooden art nouveau, which spread in St. Petersburg in the early twentieth century under the influence of Finnish national romanticism. Source: u.depositphotos.com

Architectural ensemble on Lenin Square

We turn onto Friedrich Engels Street and continue our promenade along the avenue that leads to Lenin Square. Around the square is an architectural ensemble of two symmetrical buildings in the style of Russian provincial classicism. In one of them the Ministry of Culture of Karelia is situated, and in another one – the National Museum of the Republic. Its exposition consists of historical artifacts, household items, arts and crafts of the peoples of the North and archaeological finds of Karelian region.

Museum works from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. The second Sunday of each month – a day of free visits. Tickets can be found on the official website.

Walk forward and you will enter a vast green area with numerous gardens and parks. The whole array wraps around the river Lososinka, which flows into Lake Onega.

Once the river Lososinka there were a lot of salmon, but their population has declined because of poor ecology. Source: fotoload.ru

House of the Mining Chief

If you continue down Zavodskaya Liniya Street without turning into the park, you will notice a two-story wooden building in red and white colors. None of the tourists can not guess at first sight how old it is, so it fits harmoniously into the surrounding landscape. Its architecture and color scheme is reminiscent of the already familiar wooden buildings on Lenin Prospect. This is the House of the Mining Chief, the oldest building in Petrozavodsk. It was constructed in 1770th for Charles Gaiskon – the director of one of the city forming enterprises of Alexandrovskiy cannon foundry.

The gem of the estate is a park, arranged in the style of the Dutch garden. It is another good place for walks.

The architecture of the Mining Master’s House, which has survived almost unchanged, dates back to Classicism with an admixture of the style of Scottish town manor houses. Source: WikiCommons

Industrial History Gallery and Art Cluster

On the other side of the Lososinka River stretches the territory of the former Alexandrovsky factory, the place where the history of Petrozavodsk began. In one of the buildings (Liteinaya sq., 1) there is a Gallery of industrial history. Here you will pass the way of formation of Petrozavodsk from the opening of the first plant to the heyday of the city in the Soviet era.

Mode of the museum: Tuesday-Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00. Tickets can be purchased at the official website.

The oldest exhibit is right in front of the gallery building – the rails of Russia’s first railroad. It was built at the Alexander Cannon Plant back in 1788.

Behind the plant management building is the “Mosquito Trail”. I confess, this place impressed me the most for a number of reasons. First, I found it completely by accident. It is a very unusual story and one of the most memorable moments of my trip to Petrozavodsk.

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That evening I was strolling near the French Pond, contemplating what to do. It was dark, and the trees absorbed the noise of the streets. Suddenly the distant sounds of music reached me. The melody was familiar, and I had a strong urge to “fiddle” with it. I headed toward the sound, gradually speeding up. I was afraid that I would miss my “prey. Finally, a factory bridge appeared, behind which I could see old industrial buildings and the beams of floodlights. I ran across the bridge and through the archway.

I saw a very peculiar place: a wide square, where on one side of the fence were the houses of the modern quarter, and on the other side the broken windows of a brick industrial building were looking at me. The whole place was covered in graffiti. There were unusual art objects made of ironwork (mostly in the form of insects) along the square, and there was a stage at the far end. To the music, adults and children moved to the same rhythm. Apparently, a music video was being filmed there. The atmosphere that night was simply indescribable, and I experienced very strong emotions!

Once you round the old factory building, don’t forget to visit another open-air exposition – techno-art alley. This is a continuation of the “Mosquito Trail”, the exhibits are old parts and mechanisms.

Kirov Square

Not far from the art cluster is Kirov Square, the main square of the city. At various times it was called Proletkultura square, just Kultura, then – Freedom, Republic, Labor. In total, the place was renamed nine times. However, it was a common practice for Soviet cities. Today Kirov Square is a place for most major events in Petrozavodsk.

The architectural ensemble includes the Music Theater, built in 1955 on the site of the cathedral. The current repertoire of the theater includes opera, ballet, musicals. The facade of the building is decorated with Corinthian columns and archivolt with a sculptural composition “Friendship”.

Nearby is the Kantele House, an architectural monument of the 19th century and one of the cultural centers of Petrozavodsk. Originally it was a girl’s gymnasium, and since 1986 the National Song and Dance Ensemble “Kantele” has been working here, holding concerts, exhibitions of Karelian painters, a historical exposition.

Next to them, on Kirov square, are the House of Culture, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Puppet Theater.

The facade of the musical theater is decorated with Corinthian columns and archivolt with a sculptural composition “Friendship”.

Petrozavodsk Water Station

Moving towards Onega along Karl Marx avenue, you will reach the water station of Petrozavodsk. From there in a warm season departs to Kizhi Island with its wooden architectural ensemble (UNESCO World Heritage Site). You can reach it by high-speed boat “Meteor”. Journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes in one direction. Available routes to the historic villages Sennaya Guba and Velikaya Guba.

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Interestingly, the pier and the pier buildings of the water station were built in Soviet times, and the public harbor here appeared in 1793.

Onega embankment

The Onega Lake embankment, affectionately called “Onega” by the locals, stretches for 1.5 km. The walking area, which is in harmony with the natural landscape, is finished with granite tiles. Lighting is stylized as lanterns of Peter’s era. At the head of the landscape is a white rotunda, which attracts fans of photo shoots.

The entire promenade is a real open-air museum, where you can admire the works of modern art. Among the exhibits are sculptures donated to Petrozavodsk by the twin cities.

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The exposition begins in the basement room, where there are 4 rooms: “Stones tell”, “Traces of a glacier”, “Taiga land”, “Stone chronicle”. The first three acquaint with the earliest history of Karelia, features of its landscapes, climate, soil, flora and fauna formation. Here you can see the minerals found on the territory of the republic, some of which (shungite, crimson quartzite) can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Here you can also see the remains of primitive animals.

Minerals found in Karelia. Among them shungite and raspberry quartzite, found only here.

Tusk and a mammoth tooth

The room “Stone Chronicle” introduces archeological findings of Oleneostrovsky burial ground – the largest and most unique Mesolithic burial ground in Europe. The hall displays tools and household items of primitive people, mysterious stone labyrinths, preserved on the Solovetsky Islands, unique rock paintings – petroglyphs, found in the burials.

Burial monuments from Oleneostrovsky burial ground – an ancient camp of primitive people

Primitive tools

Petroglyphs – ancient petroglyphs

Active Recreation

Summer vacations in Karelia include active leisure surrounded by natural beauties. First of all, it is walking along the eco-trails and national parks. You can also ride through the fascinating natural places on bicycles.

Safari tours by jeep and ATV

ATVs can be ridden for a few hours off-road in the countryside and jeep tours are also available for several days. You will be able to drive to hard-to-reach places and experience thrills with a high cross-country vehicle. Along the way there will be stops in colorful villages and picnics in nature.

Water activities

Attractions in Karelia, what to see in the summer are picturesque lakes. You can go on a rafting tour with an overnight stay in beautiful places. Rafting on rivers and lakes come in different levels of difficulty. You can ride the waves, mastering wakeboarding and kite-surfing in the park “Pirate Bay” in Petrozavodsk.

Onega LakePhoto: Juliette17

The best places in Karelia for recreation in the summer are natural attractions. Trekking always remains a popular leisure activity. Vottovaara Mountain, 417 meters high, is one of the common destinations (260 km from Petrozavodsk). Here you will see seids – stone constructions of the Lapps, “a ladder in the sky”, a stone pool, a natural amphitheater. The mountain is considered to be an energetically strong place. At the top, the trees bend in a bizarre shape because of the strong winds. At the foot of the organized raids on passable cars.

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In 35 km from Petrozavodsk there is a mountain Sampo. At the top there is an equipped staircase. The place became famous after shooting the film “Sampo” on the Karelian-Finnish epos “Kalevala”. According to folklore, sampo is an object that grants happiness, so it is believed that on the mountain wishes come true. The mountain is low above the surrounding landscape (30-40 m), but along with it you can see the extinct ancient volcano Girvas, which turns into a waterfall in the spring, and the resort “Marcial Waters”.

In Paanajärvi National Park there is Nuorunen Mountain, which is more than 570 meters high. The ascent is organized as a 2-day tour, on the way you can meet rare lichens and boulders – the sanctuaries of the Lapps (seids) and breathtaking views from the top.

Vottovaara MountainPhoto: Marina Levchenkova

What to see in Karelia in 1 day

The famous places of Karelia are not only natural attractions, but also museums, beautiful streets, theaters, and popular centers of outdoor activities

Coming for 1 day, it is important to decide in advance where to go first, so that to cover the maximum number of the most popular and interesting places in a short period of time

Defensive construction of 1939-1940.

The building, located 2 km away from Pogrankondusha, is a concrete building with a one-story above-ground part and a two-story underground part. The walls are equipped with loopholes for artillery fire. The dominant position of the building on the hill created good conditions for covering the squares with shells. It was built at the dawn of the 1930s as part of the USSR defense system.

Address: The structure is located in the vicinity of the village Pogrankondushi. It is an object of military history.

Working mode: 24 hours a day.

You can get to the site by car or by bus 517 from the central bus station of Petrozavodsk.

Lenin Square

Lenin Square is the true heart of Petrozavodsk with semicircular buildings built in 1784. The monument to Lenin of 1933 decorates the central part. A staircase leads to the Eternal Flame to the beautiful coastal park. From there the bridge goes to the majestic facade of the former Alexander Metallurgical Plant, now part of the Onega Tractor Plant, which is worth seeing.

Address: the center of the city.

You can get to the site by trolleybus 5, buses 22, 17.

Monument to Yuri Andropov.

Another place worth seeing is the statue of Yuri Andropov, opened after the protests in 2005 as a memorial to the head of the Komsomol (the youth wing of the Communist Party) of Petrozavodsk in 1982-1984. Andropov was the director of the KGB for a long time. Some believe that if he had not died, he would have carried out the necessary reforms without destroying the Soviet Union.

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Address: 2 Andropov Street.

Bus routes 101, 12, 124, 14, 4, 5 and trolleybus 1 go to the monument.

See other places of interest:

Statue of Peter the Great

The statue of Peter the Great, the founder of the city, is located near the harbor under the shade of the park’s trees. The monument is made of bronze and stands on a colossal pedestal carved from local gray granite.

Address: Petrovsky square, Onega embankment, the neighborhood “Center”.

Buses 5, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20 as well as trolleybuses 1, 4, 6 run. Get off at the Pl. Kirov”.

Memorial Cross of Grief

Another place to visit for people interested in the military past is the Cross of Sorrow. The monument was built in 2000. It was opened in June 2002. The complex consists of a memorial, a place for laying wreaths and infrastructure for tourists.

Address: the village Koirinoja.

Access to the attractions is free at any time of day.

To get there by car along the road A-121/86K-13 or by public transport – bus 533, following the route Petrozavodsk – Sortavala. Get off at the turn to Pyatkyarna.

Kollasjärvi – Military Historical Complex

The military-historical complex of Kollasjärvi is situated 30 km from the town of Suojärvi on the road to the village of Loimola. During the Second World War this territory was the theater of the fierce battles between the Soviet and the Finnish troops. Today there are remnants of both the Soviet and the Finnish fortifications: trenches, pits, and numerous graves of the remains of soldiers.

Address: the western part of Suojärvi district of Karelia.

To get there by car, follow the road near the village of Piitsijoki to the Tolvoyarny sanctuary. From Petrozavodsk guided tours are organized.

National Museum of the Republic of Karelia

National Museum of Republic of Karelia. 2

When choosing what to see in Karelia, do not forget the sights of the capital of the republic – Petrozavodsk. The National Museum was founded a century and a half ago – in 1871. Its exposition is constantly growing and today exceeds 200 thousand exhibits.

The large exposition of the museum will be of interest to everyone who wants to know more about the history of Karelia. Permanent exhibition occupies about 20 halls, where you can see the monuments of material culture of different peoples – tools, clothing, jewelry and more. Archaeological finds tell about the life of the ancient inhabitants of Karelia. There are also exhibits devoted to the rich nature of the region.

Address: National Museum of the Republic of Karelia, Lenin Square, Petrozavodsk, Russia.

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