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Old and New Petrozavodsk

Petrozavodsk (Петрозаво́дск; Karelian, Vepsian and Finnish: Petroskoi) is the capital city of Karelia with a population just above 263,000.


On September 11, 1703, Prince Menshikov founded Petrovskaya Sloboda ("Petrine Settlement") at the behest of Tsar Peter the Great, who needed a new iron foundry to manufacture cannons and anchors for the Baltic Fleet at the time of the Great Northern War (1700–1721). At first the foundry used the name Shuysky zavod (literally, "factory at the Shuya River"), but a decade later it became Petrovsky zavod ("Petrine factory"), after the reigning monarch.

By 1717, Petrovskaya Sloboda had grown into the largest settlement in Karelia, with about 3,500 inhabitants, a timber fort, a covered market, and miniature palaces of the Tsar and Menshikov. The town's best-known landmark became the wooden church of Saints Peter and Paul, rebuilt in 1772 and renovated in 1789. The church retained its original iconostasis until it was destroyed by fire on October 30, 1924.

After Peter's death, Petrovskaya Sloboda became depopulated and the factory declined. It closed down in 1734, but revived in 1773 when Catherine the Great established a new iron foundry upstream the Lososinka River. Designed to provide cannons for the ongoing Russo-Turkish Wars, the foundry was named Alexandrovsky, after Alexander Nevsky, who was considered a patron saint of the region.

During Catherine's municipal reform of 1777, Petrovskaya Sloboda was incorporated as a town, whereupon its name was changed to Petrozavodsk. A new Neoclassical city center was then built, focused on the newly planned Round Square. In 1784 Petrozavodsk was large enough to become Karelia's administrative center.

The factory was modernized and expanded under supervision of Charles Gascoigne in 1787–96. Local pundits claim that the first railway in the world (чугунный колесопровод) was inaugurated for industrial uses of the Alexandrovsky foundry in 1788.

After the Finnish civil war of 1918 and after the Great Depression of 1929, there was a significant influx of Finns, especially in the early 1930s also of Finns from North America. The town more than doubled, from 20,000 to 50,000, during this time. The Finns had a significant role in the development of the region, but the Stalinist purges hit hard on the Finns.

Petrozavodsk was occupied by Finland during World War II (1941–1944). In the 1950s, many Ingrians moved in. At the dissolution of the Soviet Union, 15,000 Finns lived in the town. Finnish connections with the town were retained, with Finnish economic contributions to education and the press, and many Finnish tourists until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Petrozavodsk Airport Besovets (PES  IATA) (12 km (7.5 mi) outside the city). Flights are available from Moscow 5 times a week. Price is 4800 руб. See flight information from here. Local taxis [dead link] offer transport to the center. To go by bus you'll have to walk 1.5 km (0.93 mi) south to Petrozavodsk - Suoyarvi highway, where there are buses to Petrozavodsk approximately every 45 minutes. Petrozavodsk Airport (Q2545143) on Wikidata Petrozavodsk Airport on Wikipedia

By train[edit]

The city is easily reached by RZD train from Saint Petersburg. There are both day and night trains leaving from Ladozhsky station, a second class sleeper ticket will set you back about 1100 руб. The Lastochka Premium train takes just under five hours while most other trains have a travel time of 7-8 hours. Moscow is 16 hours away on a over-night service, trains depart from the Leningradsky station with second class tickets costing from 2200 руб. All trains bound for Murmansk makes stop-overs here so there are long-distance connections with Kaliningrad (44 hr), Kyiv (41 hr), Minsk (24 hr) and seasonal trains from Black Sea resorts as Sochi (55 hr) which serves mostly tourists travelling home. Slow regional trains also connects with various smaller cities in Karelia such as Kostomuksha (13 hr) and Suoyarvi (4 hr). 2 Petrozavodsk railway station (Петрозаводск-Пасс) is located on ul. Gagarina, just west of the city centre.

By bus[edit]

There are bus services from Saint Petersburg daily with Avokzal.

International connection from Helsinki with Petrozavodsk transport and Inkeriline[dead link]. There is also a bus service from Tampere. A one-way ticket costs €40, return €75. Savonlinja has services from Joensuu for as cheap as €13. PTZ-Trans and Karelavtotrans[dead link] offer services from Joensuu also.

By car[edit]

Petrozavodsk is along the highway, also known as Kola Highway which links Saint Petersburg and Murmansk. The road is mostly in good condition but expect long driving distances and few gas stations along the way. From Norway, Sweden or Finland you might want to come along the Blue Highway (Russian: Голубая дорога), a tourist route along ancient waterways. In Russia it comes in via Sortavala (Со́ртавала) at the north end of Ladoga.

Get around[edit]

Map of Petrozavodsk
Bank of Lake Onega

The town has a moderate size. Center is easily walkable. A taxi [dead link] anywhere in town costs 100 руб or less. Buses [dead link] run frequently along the major routes.

The railway station is at the southern end of Leninsky Prospekt, which cuts through the center of town all the way to the embankment on Lake Onego. It is about a 30-minute walk from the station to the lake.


  • All the neoclassical architecture
  • The lake, the shore, and things nearby
  • Visit the main theatre. The architecture is gorgeous and the square along with a nearby park offer great walking opportunities

Museums and galleries[edit]

Museum of Fine Arts

There are three main museums in the city: the National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Kizhi Petrozavodsk Museum.

  • 1 National museum of Karelia, 1, Lenin Square (trolleybus: 1, 2, 6 (stop "hotel" Severnaya "and stop" Herzen street "); bus: 4, 5, 12, 14, 17, 20 - 22, 26, 29 (stop "hotel Severnaya" and stop "Herzen street")), +7-8142-76-94-79. Tu-Su: museum 10:00-18:00, ticket office till 17:30. Museum of Local Lore in Petrozavodsk. It was founded in 1871 by the governor of the Olonets province G. G. Grigoriev. Inside the building of the former governor's house, built in the late 18th century, now a federal architectural monument. 200 руб. National museum of Karelia (Q4315028) on Wikidata


  • 1 Karelian National Theatre, pr. Karla Marksa, 19, +7 814 2782674. This theatre gives an authentic experience on the strong connections between Finnish and Karelian culture.
  • Mushroom and berry picking. If you are visiting in the autumn, consider joining the locals as they head into the woods to pick delicious mushrooms and berries.
  • Fishing. Find a friendly local guide and go fishing at one of thousands of nearby lakes with an overnight stay or without.
  • 2 Kivach Waterfalls (Кивач). 10.7-m-high waterfall cascade. Kivach waterfall (Q2994984) on Wikidata Kivach Falls on Wikipedia
  • Martial Waters. This area houses several natural springs which are said to be very good for your health. There are also resorts nearby.


  • Karelian wooden artworks. Karelian birch is of particular beauty and skilled artists add to its value as well. Avoid buying any antiques (especially of military character such as medals) that could be considered of cultural value by the Customs.
  • Photo books. They make great presents at home and can be a replacement for photos that might be hard to take such as Kizhi (if you don't happen to get out on the island).


Dine out. Check out one of several local restaurants. Many trend foreign but some still serve local cuisine. Karelian dining often features fish cooked whole in its own soup.


  • 1 Hotel Karelia, Gulling Embankment 2 (northeast of the railway station, about a 45-minute walk or 10-minute bus ride), +7 8142 733-333, . A well-run hotel with several amenities, including gym, spa, restaurant, and a helpful tourism department that runs tours to Kizhi. Part of the Best Eastern Hotels group.
  • 2 Hotel Fregat, Prospekt Karla Marxa 1a (On the lake side of the ferry terminal building), +7 8142 774-853, +7 8142 764-162, fax: +7 8142 764-163, . A small but clean hotel close to the ferry dock. Good for early risers who want to catch the first boat to Kizhi in the morning. It is a little hard to find; the door faces the lake, not the street, and one must ring the bell to be admitted, then the reception desk is up the stairs.
  • 3 Hotel Severnaya, Prospekt Lenina 21 (halfway between the railway station and the lake, about a 15-minute walk from the station), +7 8142 762-080, . An older but decently-maintained hotel in the downtown area, closer to the railway station than the other hotels. Part of the Intourist Hotels group. From 700 руб per night.
  • Hotel ONEGO. Small hotel on a boat, 300-m walk to the right from the ferry dock, then across a small bridge, near hotel Karelia (by car) R 900 per night for a single (4 rooms share 2 baths), pleasant and clean, 24 hours.



Go next[edit]

  • 3 Kizhi. A hydrofoil can take you to this gem in Lake Onega. While there, admire the architecture and the island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kizhi (Q205244) on Wikidata Kizhi Island on Wikipedia
Routes through Petrozavodsk
SortavalaPitkyarantaPryazha  NW  SE  MedvezhyegorskPudozhEND

This city travel guide to Petrozavodsk is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.