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Sortavala (Russian: Со́ртавала) is a small town along the northern shores of Lake Ladoga in Karelia. It is a popular starting point for those heading out into the Karelian wilderness.


Ulitsa Karelskaya

Stolbovo belonged to Sweden 1617–1721 and became a charted town in 1632. It was devastated in the war in the early 18th century, was ceded to Russia and lost its importance. It was united with the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812, and thus became part of independent Finland in 1917. From the late 19th century Sortavala developed as the cultural centre of Ladogan Karelia. It was the seat of the orthodox arch bishop from 1925. It also had significant industry for such a small town.

The area was evacuated and ceded to the Soviet Union after the Winter War 1940 and again after the Continuation War 1944. Until 1940, the Ladoga shore southwest of Sortavala had been one of the very few relatively densely populated areas north of the Karelian Isthmus populated by Karelians.

Get in[edit]

The road A129 along Ladoga's western shore leads to the town. The road from Petrozavodsk and Olonets towards the Vyartsilya/Niirala border checkpoint to Finland (in Tohmajärvi) passes north of the town.

The town is on the railway between Saint Petersburg and Kostomuksha.

  • 1 Sortavala railway station. Sortavala railway station (Q18401116) on Wikidata

Get around[edit]

Map of Sortavala


  • 1 Saint Nicholas Church. The orthodox cathedral from 1873. Saint Nicholas Church, Sortavala (Q11894147) on Wikidata
  • Atelier of Gogolev. Wooden art in the centre.
  • 2 Statue of the folk poetry singer (Рунопевец). By Alpo Sailo, erected in 1935 in the 100-years celebrations of the Finnish national epic Kalevala (possibly partly collected from here). The statue is modelled after the folk poetry singer Petri Shemeikka (1821–1915), whom Sailo had met earlier, doing sketches and taking photos. Runic Singer Monument in Sortavala (Q4343580) on Wikidata


View from the national park
  • 1 Lagoda Skerries National Park (by the shores of Ladoga). 1,220 km² national park Ladoga Skerries National Park (Q4252610) on Wikidata Ladoga Skerries National Park on Wikipedia





  • 1 Dacha Wintera (Дача Винтера) (8 km southward), +7 921 012-90-46. Newly built resort along the shore of Lake Ladoga, just south of town.


Go next[edit]

  • The Valaam archipelago with Valamo Monastery
  • Impilahti, a small town near Sortavala
Routes through Sortavala
JoensuuTohmajärvi ← customs ← Vyartsilya  NW  SE  PitkyarantaPryazhaPetrozavodsk

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