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Reference on historical and cultural features of Prionezhsky region

The region is related to South Karelia where final relief formed under influence of the last glacier which had receded from this territory approximately 12 thousand years ago.

Historical and Cultural Potential

After ethnic formation of Karelian people divided in three branches by space and distinctions in historical destinies was complete, basically representatives of its southern branch of Livvik Karelians have settled down in territory of modern Prionezhsky region. Building most attractive for tourists in a natural historical have concentrated in the capital of Karelia, or are located within the territory of Petrozavodsk city borders, or are a part of former Veppsian national volost. Nevertheless, so far in the region there are many different types of the wooden houses and utility structures dating to the XVIII-XIX centuries. They are especially many in the settlement of Ladva (12 units), village of Suisar (15 units), village of Yalguba (10 units). There are 16 sites of archeological excavations.

The region preserves lasting traditions of national spiritual culture, embodied and continuously renewed in the long-term activity of national and amateur ensembles, as well as at the only in Karelia factory of national arts and crafts in the village of Derevyannoye.

Folk calendar and ceremonial festivals in this or that form celebrated almost in all villages are of particular interest for development of the regional travel product. It is necessary to pay attention to the local national colouring of celebratings and common (communal) holidays celebrated in settlements of the region a while ago: Chiri Piirai autumn harvest festival, Pedrun Päivä (winter fisherman's day celebrated on January 29), Midsummer Day (Midsummer Night), Christmastide, Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, Epiphany, Shrovetide, etc. it is necessary to note the regional festival of Prionezhie. During all holidays there work fair-sales of national products being in great demand among the local population and guests of the region.

Since 2006 former Veppsian national volost comprising Sheltozero, Rybreka and Shoksha Veppsian rural settlements became a part of Prionezhsky metropolitan region.

More than 92% of the territory is covered by woods. There prevail cowberry pine forest and a bilberry spruce forest typical for the South-Karelian taiga zone (55% of all wood stocks), pure pine coastal forests are also characteristic. Deciduous forest makes about 40% of wood stocks, where birch forests prevail. With good reason it is possible to say that unlike many other things sites of the Onego lake coast, this area represents those time-honoured landscapes, and, hence, possess unique recreational and aesthetic potential. The basic kind of natural sights are natural landscapes themselves and a variety of their types - from marsh lowlands to coast terraces. There are two objects of independent value - Kakkarovsky reserve of Karelian birch and Monastyrskoye bog.

The village of Sheltozero is located on the highway from Petrozavodsk to Voznesenie, 84 kilometers to the south of the capital of Karelia. Veppsians are indigenous people living in territory of the Northwest Russia and, in the standard opinion of experts, represent descendants of the Ves tribe for the first time mentioned as Vas or Vasina in the Jordanes' annalistic chronicle of the early Middle Ages The Origin and Deeds of the Getae and dated from the VI century CE. Archeological finds of the Southwest Byelozerie (VI-XIII centuries), excavation of barrows on the Southeast and North coasts of Onego lake (X-XI centuries), testify to the original and rich culture unequivocally considered to be ancient Veppsian. In the opinion of the majority of researchers ancient Ves represented a settled people mostly engaged in cut-over-land tillage, cattle breeding, fishing, hunting for wild beasts.

Now in territory there are 111 monuments of archeology, history, architecture and culture, a few natural objects registered by the state. 34 objects of archeology are sites of primitive people dated from the VI-I to millenia BC, the burial grounds dated from III-I to millenia BC. All the monuments which have been found out by now are located close to or directly on the coast of Onego lake and rivers running into it, and the majority of them are within the scope of territory of settlements or near to them. Now there are a few material objects related to Veppsians' religious ceremonies. Three of total number of monuments of this kind related to traditional (pre-Christian) beliefs are cult groves in villaged of Verkhruchei, Kaskesruchei and Pybreka.

Interesting is the complex of former Yashezersky Monastery of the Annunciation located on the coast of the lake of the same name, 15 kilometers to the Southwest of the village of Shoksha. Monastic community founded no later than 1580, has rather interesting and original history and monuments. Among them there are the cave of Saint Jonah Yashezersky, the revered saint founder of the monastery, log church of the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin (1675, with subsequent reconstruction and reorganizations) with the chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, stone temple of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (construction was granted by Petrozavodsk merchant Mark Pimenov in 1853-1855), brick fencing with angular towers and private cases. Most of the monuments registered by the state are related to objects of wooden architecture. These are, first of all, traditional houses and utility structures: homes, barns, sheds, stables. Veppsian architecture in many respects has adopted traditions of Russian national architecture and posseses features finally generated basicly in the XIXth century. Up to now they are brightly traced in plenty of existing country houses of the close of the XIX century and the turn of the XX century possessing distinctive national features. They look different in the general space-planning decision and decoration details. Such monuments total 68. They are basically located in Sheltozero, Verkhruchei, Gorneye Sheltozero, Drugaya Reka, Shoksha, Matveyeva Selga, Kaskesruchei and Pybreka. The most attractive is the widely known Melkin's house (Veppsian national museum), homes on Goristaya street in Sheltozero, a group of buildings in the village of дер. Matveyeva Selga and Gorneye Sheltozero (in aggregate with the church), as well as single buildings and utility structures in these and other settlements.

The greatest interest as monuments of history are objects of industrial heritage - deposits of natural decorative stone. These are Shoksha quarries where from the end of the XVIII century crimson and red quartzites were extracted for needs of St.-Petersburg and its suburbs, and then since XX century for Moscow and other cities. They were and are used as the most valuable facing and decorative stone, including at a construction of the gravestone of the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte in L'hôtel national des Invalides in Paris, decoration of the Lenin Mausoleum (the ceiling of the mourning hall, letters on the pediment), underground stations. Blocks, lining plates, rubble, small stone blocks, and paving stones.

In settlements there are three secondary schools, kindergartens, musical school in Sheltozero, libraries, three Culture Palaces and a club. Veppsian National Chorus has been fonded in 1937 therethe, and Children's Veppsian Chorus appeared in 1982. Both creative ensembles are very famous in Karelia and beyond its borders, as participants of concerts in Estonia, Finland and regions of Russia where Finno-Ugric peoples reside. The choruses are indispensable participants of the Tree of Life national festival held annually in July.

Tree of Life traditional Veppsian culture festival is held annually since 1988. The first festival was organized in times hard for the Veppsian people. As a result of political directions of the 1950-60s sharp decrease in number Veppsians was observed. It has occured owing to the state policy directed on assimilation of small people of the USSR with the purpose of formation of the 'Soviet people' nonnational generality, that has led to denying the necessity of studying Veppsian language and culture by some Veppsian intelligentsia and that many were simply ashamed to name their nationality.

Celebration of the holiday became a starting point of new perception of Veppsian culture, changes in mind and attitude to the problem of Veppsians not only among the local population, and also in the republican and world community, authorities of all levels. The holiday restores Veppsian celebratory calendar, popularizes language and cultural traditions, song and dancing heritage, customs and legends of this small people. Tree of life is one of the variants of the image of the world tree in Veppsian mythology, a poetic metaphor of human birth, growth and becoming. It connects the world of the dead ancestors (the roots) to the living generation - the world of alive (the trunk) and the world of existing and future descendants (the crone). The image of the Tree of Life may be considered as a tree of Veppsian culture which transfers national traditions from generation to generation. Being the only one so extensive in the republic festival of Veppsian culture is unique. Significant experience of cooperation of artists, regional specialists and the volost residents interested in preparation and carrying out of the festival has been gained.

Guests from Vologda and Leningrad areas where are territories of compact residing od Veppsians are also located, visitors and tourists from Finland, Norway, Sweden take great interest in the festival.

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Created: November 4, 2002. Last updated: January 30, 2009.
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