Russian North

Welcome to Russian North, the land of wooden architecture, delicious northern cuisine and authentic icon-painting school. It’s an umbrella brand uniting several regions of Northwestern Russia. These are the Republic of Karelia, Arkhangelsk Region, Vologda Region, the Republic of Komi and Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

Karelia is famous for its beautiful nature. It is a kingdom of picturesque rocks covered with multicolored lichens, rushing waterfalls and numerous lakes including Ladoga and Onega which are the first and the second largest lakes in Europe. Two main treasures of Karelia are the monastery of Valaam with a special spiritual atmosphere and the island of Kizhi (UNESCO) which is an open air museum with a unique collection of wooden churches.

Another way to enjoy Russian wooden churches and ancient izbas (village houses) with carved window frames is visiting Arkhangelsk region. The city of Arkhangelsk was the main sea haven and commercial port of Russia before Saint-Petersburg was founded in the beginning of the 18th century. This city is known for its glorious naval history and an authentic culture of Pomors - northern seamen and pioneers.

Two famous Vologda craft brands are delicious Vologda butter and fine Vologda lacework. Though the main attractions of Vologda Region are Kirillo-Belozersky and Ferapontov medieval monasteries. Kirillo-Belozersky monastery beloved by Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible was the largest and strongest one in Northern Russia. Located nearby Ferapontov monastery is included in the UNESCO Heritage List due to its magnificent wall frescos made by the greatest Russian icon-painter Dionisy in the late 15the century.

Komi Republic is known by the UNESCO object Virgin Forests of Komi as well as the enigmatic Komi folk culture whose monsters, deities and shamans inspire modern filmmakers. If you are brave enough try and get to the sacred Manpupuner Idols. These alien looking rock formations are sacred objects for local people.

Nenets Autonomous Okrug is an another ethnic republics of Russian North. It is a land of tundra, reindeers and welcoming Nenets people.

Russian North is a very large region with very modest logistics. That’s why getting there could be a real quest. Its most easily accessible destination is the Republic of Karelia located within a few hours by car from Saint-Petersburg. It gives you a great opportunity to combine these two interesting regions in one tour.

Arkhangelsk and Vologda are also best to see together. You can arrive to the international airport of Arkhangelsk and then explore both regions travelling by train or by car.

The main entrance gates to the Republic of Komi and Nenets Autonomous Okrug are the domestic airports of Syktyvkar and Naryan Mar, respectively. You can fly there from Saint-Petersburg or Moscow and then get to your final destination by car. The most remote attractions like Manpupuner Pillars may require a helicopter transfer or a long hiking with experienced local guide.
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