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Reference on historical and cultural features of Kem region

Kem metropolitan region is situated mainly in the pool of Kem river and on significant extent it adjoins the White Sea. In meridian direction it is crossed by federal railways and automobile highways provoding its connection to the South and North of the country, in latitudinal direction it is crossed by Kem highway leading to the border. The town of Kem is the region's administrative centre, a seaport on the White Sea and a preferable place for departure to Solovetsky islands, the basic way to which makes 45 km.

On the way to Solovki tourists have an opportunity to visit the archipelago of Kuzovetsky that has the status of landscape preserve. These islands are well-known both as cultural and historical objects, ans as natural advantages. The preserve has been created with the purpose of preservation of landscapes and original flora and fauna of islands of the White sea at sparing use of them for tourism and recreation of the population. The archpelago comprises Russky and Nemetsky Kuzova, Oleshin, Verkhny, Sredny, Zhiloi, Setnoi, Lodeiny, Kurichya Niloksa, Chernetsky, Severnaya Tupilikha. The archipelago is one of the most beautiful on the White Sea with many picturesque rocky coasts rising from the water higher than 100 meters. There are places of mass nesting of many sea birds (razorbilled auks, Arctic terns, short-billed guillemots, eider ducks, etc.), there are white-tailed eagles and kestrels red-listed in Karelia and Russia. Bearded seals, ringed seal and white whales live in waters the sea. From West to East the region is crossed by Kem river, the largest in Karelia. Its source is at the border with Finland. In territory of the region the river has steep dip. Earlier it used to have 35 rapids and falls. Among the last there was the 11.8-meters high Uzhma falls with high water flow. Vozhach and Pad-Yuma falls were also famous. Upon construction of cascade of Kem hydroelectric power stations the river has got regulated flow, having turned to a circuit of water basins, falls have disappeared, but it is possible to see their 'dry models'. There appeared viewing points with beautiful views of dams of hydroelectric power stations and extensive water spaces.

Historical and Cultural Potential

By last archeological excavations the most ancient site of primitive people in territory of Kem region (in the valley Kem river, near the settlement of Avneporog) dated from the IIth quarter of the IX millenium B.C. Also it is dated from early Mesolithic epoch. Ethnicity of ancient inhabitants of these places remains obscure. 20 km from Kem on islands of Kuzova scientists have found out a so-called 'pantheon of Sami' consisting of stone constructions. Their seidas are sacred stones of Sami. No other seida fields of a few hundreds of stones as on Kuzova islands are found anywhere else. Also there are labyrinthes on islands which purpose remains a riddle for scientists. The town of Kem has significant cultural and historical potential, being historical city of the all-Russian value, it has a number of monuments, one of which is the Assumption Cathedral (1714), one of masterpieces of northern wooden architecture. In Kem there is a museum of Pomor culture, 3 architectural monuments of the all-Russian value, over 30 architectural and historical objects of republican value. However, tourist destiny of the town today is nevertheless related to Solovki.

Regular colonization of the coast of the White Sea by Novgorodians has begun in the XIIth century. Riches of the north attracted not only Novgorod. The Norwegian vikings, the Swedish feudal lords have visited on these grounds. In Russian annals of the middle of the XVth century Kemsky settlements are mentioned as belonging to mayor of Novgorod the Great Martha Boretskaya (Martha the Mayor). In the beginning of the XVth century (1429) the Solovetsly monastery has been founded on Solovetsky islands, having become spiritual and economic center of all the White Sea region. Gradually at the coast of the White Sea there developed aseparate subethnos of the White Sea coast-dwellers (Pomorians) who have created their vital way and culture. Bright traces of Pomor heritage in territory of Kem region can be found in ancient Russian settlements of Gridino and Kalgalaksha, where there are many such architectural monuments as houses, barns, baths, etc. Uniqueness in shape of the village of Gridino is brought by the church dedicated to St. Nicholas (second half of the XIVth century). The village housing, log graves, roof ridges make an echo of history. The village is located in the mouth Gridinka river, 3 km from the White Sea. Both villages are remote, being accessible only by small boats, or by soil road from the railway station of Engozero. Gridino and Kalgalakshaare located in the northern part of the region, and in its east part, on the coast of Kem river, there is another amazing village - Panozero, where there are many buildings of significant architectural value. Interest to this village grows due to the fact that merge of Russian and Karelian building traditions, their mutual influence and enrichment is observed here. Unfortunately, the village is threatened with flooding due to planned construction of hydroelectric power station. Getting to Panozero is rather simple, as it is located 19 km Kem highway, approximately in the middle between settlements of Kalevala and Kem.

Panozero, the Pearl of the North folklore festival.

The ancient village of Panozero in Kem region (in 1996 included in the list of the World Fund for Protection of Cultural Heritage) is not only of historical and architectural value, but also is the only North Karelians' settlement remained in Kem region . Now sponsored by Juminkekko foundation (Finland) there goes restoration of ancient buildings and churches, traditional arts and crafts revive. The village of Panozero has both preserved its traditional planning structure, its population has preserved its traditional way of life substantially, and traditional Pomor ceremonies and festivals are being studied and restored. In the village there live people proficient in boat sewing, birch bark weaving, netting, embroidering, etc. For four years the Ministry of Culture of the RK and Administration of local self-management of Kem region have been supporting the Panozero, the Pearl of the North traditional folklore festivalheld on August 2, the day of Elijah the Prophet hallowed in this village. The festival both forms attractive tourist image of the region, and promotes increase in incomes of village residents who sale their hand-made souvenirs, accommodate tourists, and provide meals for them. Every year the holiday gathers more Russian and Finnish tourists, therefore, in the future it is planned to build a center of traditional North Karelian suit and make additional objects турпоказа provide additional places of interest for tourists in the village, such, as traditional arts and crafts workshops, the Pomor Chamber museum where folk ensembles could perform, etc.

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Created: November 13, 2002. Last updated: December 29, 2008.
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