Lake Ladoga: the main sights
Thanks to the beautiful unique natural views and a rich history, the attractions of Lake Ladoga attract a large number of tourists every year. Lake Ladoga is the largest in Europe. On it passed the Road of Life, which saved the people of Leningrad during the siege.
A few facts about Lake Ladoga
- Lake Ladoga (the historical name Nevo), it is also often called Ladoga, is located in two regions of the country – in the Republic of Karelia and the Leningrad region.
- Ladoga is the second largest lake in Russia after Lake Baikal and the largest in Europe. Its coastline is more than 1000 km, its length from north to south is 219 km, its width is 138 km.
- The depth of the lake varies unevenly, in the south from 20 to 70 meters, in the north from 70 to 260 meters.
- Lake Ladoga has 35 rivers, the largest of which are the Svir, the Vuoksa, the Volkhov. Only one river flows out – the Neva.
- There are about 660 islands in the lake, most of them are concentrated in the northern part of the lake – in the area of Ladoga skerries.
- The most famous island of Ladoga is Valaam, where the male monastery is located.
- The lake counts more than 50 species of fish, including salmon – salmon, trout, vendace, whitefish, grayling. Here lives the Ladoga seal, which is included in the Red Book.
- The Ladoga is a very restless lake, strong storms are frequent here, so for navigation were built first Staroladoga, and later Novoladoga channels, stretching from Schlisselburg to Novaya Ladoga.
- Since September 12, 1941 to March 1943 by Lake Ladoga was the only transport artery connecting the besieged Leningrad with the country.
Lake Ladoga on the map
Sights of Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga is turbulent and stormy, huge and deep. On its shores are located cities: Schlisselburg, Priozersk, Novaya Ladoga – Leningrad region, Sortavala, Lahdenpokhya – Karelia.
Sights of Lake Ladoga – a beautiful nature, unique and inimitable, old fortress towns and monasteries, national parks, as well as the memorial “Road of Life” and the Green Belt of Glory.
The Ladoga Skerries are long rugged bays and numerous small islands in them, created by a giant glacier. The picturesque skerries are situated in the northern part of Ladoga. The rocky islands, overgrown with pine trees, rise above the water and reach heights of up to 100 meters.
At the end of 2017, the Ladoga Skerries National Park was created on the territory of the skerries.
The city of Shlisselburg was once called the Venice of the North because of the canals built here for navigation, as an alternative to the capricious and stormy Lake Ladoga. Now the Staroladozhsky Canal, created by the plan of Peter the Great, is abandoned, dried up and overgrown, the locks are half-destroyed. The Novoladozhsky Canal, built under Alexander II to replace the shoaling Staroladozhsky Canal, continues to be used.
Shlisselburg is surrounded by Lake Ladoga and the Neva River flowing from it. During the Great Patriotic War, it was occupied by the Germans (September 8, 1941) – the front ran along the Neva River, while Soviet troops were located on the opposite bank. The time of the occupation of Shlisselburg was the Siege of Leningrad, which was broken with the liberation of the city – Operation Spark. Not far from Schlisselburg is a museum-reserve “Breakthrough of the siege of Leningrad”, dedicated to this event. There is a diorama and panorama, which plunges into the atmosphere of January 1943.
About 300 meters from the Shlisselburg coast there is the island of Orekhovy, where the heroic Oreshek fortress is situated. Constructed back in 1323 by Novgorodians, it has a strategically important location – at the source of the Neva, at the entrance to Ladoga. It was captured by the Swedes, but 90 years later returned to the army of Peter I, who named it Shlisselburg (key city from the German).
Shlisselburg Fortress was turned into a terrible prison for political prisoners. The fortress on an island not far from St. Petersburg was a convenient prison for enemies of the emperor or empress. Here the dethroned infant tsar Ivan Antonovich languished for 8 years until he was stabbed to death by his jailers in an attempt to free him. Here the Narodnaya Volya members, participants of attempt on Alexander II and Alexander III and other high ranking officials served their sentences.
Memorial “Oath” in the ruins of St. John’s Cathedral
During the Great Patriotic War Oreshek again won the military glory of the heroic fortress. The garrison of the fortress heroically defended the Road of Life and the right bank of the Neva for almost 500 days. The Germans subjected to continuous artillery and mortar fire the ancient fortress, but could not capture it. Oreshek was almost completely destroyed, after the war only a small part of its buildings was restored. Now there is a branch of the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg.
Small Karelian town Lahdenpohja on the shores of Lake Ladoga is located near the tourist town Sortavala. Here you can go to the military museum “Owl Mountain”, placed in a rock and admire the Finnish churches.
Sortavala city is located on the shore of Lake Ladoga, and is divided by Lake Läppäärvi into two parts, connected by the Karelian Bridge. Sortavala is called the small architectural encyclopedia, here remained about 200 buildings of different styles, built from the end of XX century to 1939 by the Finnish architects. The pride of the city is the museum of Kronid Gogolev, with his unique works – pictures, carved out of wood.
Near Sortavala is a former marble quarry, and now the Ruskeala Mountain Park, one of the most popular places in the Republic of Karelia. Here are also the Ruskeala waterfalls – low, but very picturesque. From the pier Sortavala go motor boats to the island of Valaam.
In the northern part of the lake is the Valaam Archipelago, which includes 50 islands. The largest of them is Valaam Island. Sightseeings of Lake Ladoga on Valaam Island attract a lot of travelers every year. This Valaam Monastery, Gefsimansky, Nikolsky, Vladimir, Ilyinsky and other sketes. And also the stunning northern nature of the island, praised by many famous artists.
The city of Novaya Ladoga is located at the mouth of the Volkhov River. In 1702 Peter the Great ordered to enclose the land of Nikolsko-Medvedsky Monastery with a ditch, and on the place where the Volkhov flows into Ladoga Lake create Novaya Ladoga shipyard. Two years later Novaya Ladoga was founded in this place.
The city is rich in sights, including objects of cultural heritage. These are the ensemble of St. John the Theologian Church, the Memorial to the Heroes of Ladoga, the Gostiny Dvor, and so on.
Priozersk is a city between Ladoga Lake and Lake Vuoksa. Located 145 kilometers from St. Petersburg. In this area many cultural values, attracting tourists from all over the world. For example, the Old Fortress, which has not once been attacked and assaulted. People interested in faith will find a visit to the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Lutheran Church interesting. There are also monuments to Mowgli and Peter the Great.
Korela Fortress is a stone fortress located in the town of Priozersk, it played an important role for the Karelian Isthmus. In the Middle Ages Korela was the most north-western town of Russia. At the end of the XIII – beginning of the XIV centuries the fortress was built to defend the state from the Swedes. Originally it was wooden, but after a fire in 1310 there were stone buildings.
During the century (1611-1710 years) the fortress belonged to Sweden and was called Kexholm. It was able to return it during the Great Northern War. Now it is in a partially destroyed state.
The Road of Life
During the Great Patriotic War the Road of Life was the only transport artery to Leningrad. Along it brought food, medicine, and weapons to the city, from the city were evacuated starving people.
In winter, when the Ladoga lake was frozen, the road became ice-covered, and the cargo was carried to Leningrad by the famous lorries. Despite the severe frosts, the drivers did not close the door of the car or even took it off in order to have time to jump out the car if it went under the ice. This is clearly visible in the photographs that have survived.
The monuments along the Road of Life are part of the Green Belt of Glory.
Green Belt of Glory
The Green Belt of Glory is a memorial complex erected in 1965-1968 in memory of the people who defended Leningrad during its siege in 1941-1944. Its creation was initiated by Mikhail Dudin, a Soviet poet, and was designed by a group of architects led by Georgy Buldakov. The beltway is located exactly on the place where the enemy was stopped in those dark days.
The complex was built by the people’s method – with the help of inhabitants and Leningrad organizations. It is 200 kilometers long – it consists of two blockade rings – Small and Big.
Konevsky Monastery of Nativity and Theotokos
Konevsky Monastery of Nativity and the Virgin Mary is an Orthodox monastery located on the island of Konevets and founded by Arseny Konevsky (the saint) for the purpose of converting Karelians to Christianity. It is often referred to as the twin monastery of Valaam, located on the island of Valaam. Every year, tourists interested in culture and religion, and simply people of faith flock here.
The lake is surrounded by many cities of historical significance, but the attractions of Lake Ladoga are not limited to culturally important cities. For example, on the territory of Ladoga now exists Nizhne-Svirsky State Nature Reserve for waterfowl, as a place for their nesting. It refers to the wetlands. 256 different species of birds have been registered in the area.
In addition, there are a variety of plants, reptiles and even large mammals: brown bears, moose. There are also birds listed in the Red Book: osprey, black stork, vyl and other birds.
Route around Lake Ladoga – the best summer roadtrip
Beaches, history, deserted islands, skerries and nice hotels!
Organizing a cool roadtrip in Russia is always difficult: the distances are long, and the farther from the cities, the worse the infrastructure is. Good circular routes in the country are almost non-existent. A rare exception is Karelia. Here you can make a trip even for four days, even for two weeks.
We planned long ago and by results of two expeditions assembled the large route around the Ladoga lake. There will be both abandoned kirches, and sand dunes, and good hotels, and deserted islands with beaches, and nice cities, including one of the three best cities in the list of small Russian cities according to the editorial board. But most importantly – interesting places will be encountered literally every hour, because their concentration around the lake is prohibitive.
We have prepared this route together with Toyo Tires. This is a famous Japanese brand of tires with a wide range of offers for every need, from offroad adventures to intercity road trips. We in the editorial office travel a lot by car and have been using Toyo and its sister brand Nitto tires for several years.
For our trip around Lake Ladoga, we chose Proxes TR1 tires. They are excellent roadholding even on stripped asphalt in conditions of permanent Russian repairs, asymmetric tread diverts water when driving in the rain, the side edges are specially strong so you can not be afraid of chafing the curb.
But first of all Proxes is a tire for asphalt: you immediately feel the smoothness of ride and reliable traction while cornering at speed. And you’ll notice a reduction in fuel consumption. By the way, this particular tire model has earned the love of car owners. On Yandex.Market there are only great reviews and many people write that in 20 years this is the first tire they are completely satisfied with.
Route around Lake Ladoga. How to make it?
You will most likely leave from St. Petersburg. You’ll stay there for a couple of days, have a walk in your favorite cafes and bars, buy some gas for your torch, and hit the road.
We purposely broke the itinerary into sections, not days. You will not be able to fit all the places in one day, and it is not really necessary.
- Petersburg – Priozersk: Shlisselburg, “Torn ring”, Ladozhskoe Ozero station, Osinovets lighthouse and beach near it, stone Finnish breakwater in Dalekaya bay, Kirch in Melnikovo and Sevastyanovo, Priozersk.
Advice. You can lay one or two days for this part, but keep in mind that you will not have time to see all the places during the day or you will get very tired. The total distance – 420 kilometers, there are areas without asphalt.
- Priozersk – Sortavala: Koyonsaari island, Luumivaara church, Nature Park “The Valley of Waterfalls”, trout farm “Akulovka”, church and boat trip on skerries in Lahdenpohja, ecological trail “Laapinlinna”, Sortavala.
Tip. This is also a busy part, make a minimum of two days for this section. The total distance is 180 kilometers, there are offroads.
- Sortavala – Olonets: Paaso ancient settlement, Dacha of composers, Ruskeala, White Bridges waterfall, Tuloksa estuary.
Advice. One day is enough for this part if you won’t go to Ruskeala, and two days if you will. The trip to the waterfalls will take much energy, because there are 7 kilometers of grader and 3 kilometers of pure lack of roads, where you will have to crawl at a speed of 10 kilometers per hour. The total distance is 270 kilometers, there are road repairs and off-roads.
- Olonets – Petersburg: Olonets, Storozhensky lighthouse, “Old Ladoga”.
Advice. You can book one day for this part of the route, the main part of which is worth spending in the excellent museum-fortress Staraya Ladoga. The total distance is 370 kilometers to St. Petersburg. There are no roads.
What’s good about the circular route? All the infrastructure is fine on it!
- There is a beautiful road three quarters of the way around Ladoga Lake and there is an active repair on one quarter of it. In June additional funds were allocated for this and the road Olonets – Pitkyaranta is promised to be finished soon.
- There is a huge amount of housing, and it is housing that is the main problem of traveling around the country. In Karelia, camping sites are great houses on the shores of small lakes or Ladoga, often with their own barbecues, boats and even cafes.
- There are a lot of interesting things to do here, and in addition to the famous Ruskeala, in South Karelia are constantly opening nature parks, there are little-known waterfalls, and the islands can come to live at least for a week.
- Since you are in the north, the daylight hours will be very long. The sun rises at four o’clock, and it’s still light at 10 or 11 p.m. This allows you to saturate the day with events and sightseeing.
Part one. Petersburg – Priozersk.
Grab a snack from the city and head to the southern part of Lake Ladoga. Here there are several important all-Russian sights of different eras and styles at once.
First, get to the views of Shlisselburg Fortress. The coolest ones will be from the village of Sheremetevka. Put in “Yandex.Maps” point 59.952843, 31.025929, don’t be afraid of the light roadlessness and bumps, drive along the first line, stop where you like! At the end of this driveway is the Morozov Township pier, from which boats depart every 15 minutes for the Oreshek Fortress. The crossing works in the daytime, the cost per adult is 350 rubles for a round trip. Look for details on a convenient site petrokrepost.ru.
The next stop is 20 minutes away by car. The monument “Torn Ring” is dedicated to the Road of Life – the only way that connected the besieged Leningrad and the rest of the country. The two arches symbolize the blockade, and the gap between them – the very road that saved the city during the war.
Good beaches are already appearing nearby, if you can’t wait to swim, do it in Kokkoreva. But we recommend passing this crowded beach and driving on.
“Torn Ring” Coordinates: 60.081490, 31.067375