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Europe > Russia > Northwestern Russia > Karelia > Petrozavodsk


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Old and New Petrozavodsk

Petrozavodsk (Петрозаво́дск) 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.

Get in[edit]

1 Petrozavodsk Airport Besovets. (PES IATA) is small and is located 12 km (7.5 mi) outside the city. As of January 2014, the only flight is from Moscow 5 times a week (except Wednesdays and Saturdays). Price is RUB6000. Airport is connected with the city by bus 117V, which only runs once, when the flight arrives and departs. If you miss this bus, to get on another 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.

The city is easily reached by 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 RUB1100. 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 RUB2200. All trains bound for Murmansk makes stop-overs here so there are long-distance connections with Kaliningrad (44 h), Kiev (41 h), Minsk (24 h) and seasonal trains from Black Sea resorts as Sochi (55 h) which serves mostly tourists travelling home. Slow regional trains also connects with various smaller cities in Karelia such as Kostomuksha (13 h) and Suoyarvi (4 h). 2 Petrozavodsk railway station (Петрозаводск-Пасс) is located on ul. Gagarina, just west of the city centre.

There are bus services from Saint Petersburg daily with Avokzal and an international connection from Helsinki with Incoming Finland on Fridays and Sundays. Buses departs from the railway station at 7AM and arrives in Petrozavodsk at 8:30PM. There is also a bus service from Tampere leaving the railway station at 8PM each Monday and Friday and arriving 8:30PM. A one-way ticket costs €40, return €75. Cheaper tickets are available with Savonlinja which has services from Joensuu for as cheap as €13.

Petrozavodsk is along the M18-RUS.svg 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.

Get around[edit]

The town has a moderate size. Center is easily walkable. A taxi anywhere in town costs RUB100 or less. Buses run frequently along the major routes.

The railway station is located 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.

Bank of Lake Onega, Petrozavodsk


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


  • 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.
  • Go 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.
  • The market.. This large outdoor marketplace has many typical food and wares vendors. In the autumn this is a good place to get fresh mushrooms, berries, fruit and vegetables.
  • Go fishing. Find a friendly local guide and go fishing at one of thousands of nearby lakes with an overnight stay or without.
  • 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.
  • 2 Kivach Waterfalls (Кивач). 10.7 m high waterfall cascade. Kivach waterfall (Q2994984) on Wikidata Kivach Falls on Wikipedia
  • Visit the Martial Waters. This area houses several natural springs which are said to be very good for your health. There are also resorts nearby.
  • 3 Visit Kizhi. A hydrofoil can take you to this gem in Lake Onega. While there, admire the architecture and the island. Kizhi (Q205244) on Wikidata Kizhi Island on Wikipedia


  • 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).




  • 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, e-mail: . A new 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, e-mail: . 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, e-mail: . 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 R700 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]

A hydrofoil service takes travellers from Petrozavodsk to Kizhi.

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.