Petrozavodsk, 420 km northeast of St Petersburg and close to the Finnish border, is capital of the Republic of Karelia. Historic Karelia extends into modern-day Finland and the original Karelians were a Finno-Ugric people akin to Finns and Estonians. During World War II Finland occupied much of the Republic, including Petrozavodsk.
The city lies spreads along the shore of Lake Onega, and with its many parks and tree-lined avenues, stakes a strong claim to be considered one of Russia’s most attractive cities. The distinctive Neoclassical architecture of many public buildings uses the locally-quarried granite to good advantage.
Visitors particularly enjoy strolling the lakeside parks and gardens of Petrozavodsk, a city favoured with a particularly European atmosphere.
The city is the gateway to the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega, famed for its picturesque assemblage of 18th-century wooden churches.
The countryside outside Petrozavodsk is readily accessible for fishing, hunting, hiking and camping holidays, and is especially popular with Finnish visitors.