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Reference on historical and cultural features of Olonets region

Olonets region possesses a number of features making it stand out appreciably against other regions of Karelia and creating its specific tourist image.
Olonets Plain to a considerable degree is now occupied with agricultural lands, in spring and autumn it becomes a vacation spot for passage skeins notable for high species diversity, including species brought to the Red Book of Russia. From the West over 120 km the region adjoins Ladoga lake into which almost all Olonets rivers run. Two of them, Vidlotsa and Tuloksa, are related to a number of the best salmon rivers of the Ladoga pool. Ladoga coastal strip of the region is mainly covered with fine pine forests, being favourite vacation spots abounding mushrooms and berries.

Historical and Cultural Potential

Olonets region differs with its rich throwing back history. For many centuries Olonets was an administrative centre of extensive Olonets district which area exceeded present Karelia. In 1999 it has turned 350 years since Olonets has received the status of town, it is the oldest town in Karelia, and its written records are over eight centuries old. Archeologists trace 7-8 thousand years history of Olonets land.

Time was ruthless on the majority of monuments of material culture: almost nothing remained of once formidable Olonets fortress that played a prominent part during struggle of the Russian state against Sweden; only a few churches and chapels remained of many buildings for public worship for which Olonets land was famous not too many years ago; the majority of icons of famous Olonets school of northern icon-painting is lost; a little bit of subjects of national life and art has escaped destruction. Another feature of Olonets region is dominance of Karelians in its population structure. Traditions of Karelian people, original architecture of houses and utility structures, household and crafts stuff remained better here, than in other places.

Olonets is the oldest town in the Republic of Karelia, the former center of Olonets province, has the status of historical city, is rich with cultural and historical objects, is favourably located on the crossing of Kola federal road with the Blue Road international tourist itenerary. It is the center of South Karelians. Annually receives up to 10 thousand tourists. Through the village of Vidlitsa has an access to the island of Valaam.

One of the major projects aimed at strengthening of Olonets' appeal for tourists is creation of an open-air ethnographic museum to show subjects of life of Livvik Karelians outgrowing of Olonets fortress.

Priority orientation in work of Olonets Art and Leisure Center is revival and development of traditional culture, namely carrying out street festivities on the Pancake week, Christmas sit-round gatherings, traditional festivals on Saint John the Baptist's Day (Verkhovie), Saint Peter's day (Kotkozero, Rypushkaditsa), Transfiguration Day (Malaya Selga), Midsummer night (Tuksa), Festival of the village of Nurmolitsa prepared according to traditions, ceremonies, and rituals characteristic for each holiday. Traditionally employees of the center participate in preparation and carrying out of Olonia, the Goose Capital ecological festival, Dairy Festival, festival of Karelian poetry devoted to creative work of V.Brendoev, international Olonets Games of Grandfather Frosts, Olonets Bast Basket international theatre festival, Olonets Round Dance folk-show within the scope of the Sarafan Beloved partner interdistrict project.

Karelian language, ceremonies, art always present at event execution. On the basis of establishments of culture there operate groups for studying Finnish and Karelian languages, seminars, expeditions for studying local traditions of song and choreographic heritage are being held. In repertoir of Terveh, Briha male vocal group and Karjalan Koivu Olonets national chorus there are Karelian national songs and songs of amateur authors in Karelian. It is necessary to note activity of Olonets folk theatre which performances are a success both in the neighbourhood, and in Finland.

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Created: November 4, 2002. Last updated: January 21, 2009.
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