Trip to Karelia by a retro-train

1. New train from Moscow to Karelia

2. Sortavala

3. Ruskeala park – marble quarry



New train from Moscow to Karelia

You can experience a wonderful journey by train - for just one day to find yourself in the republic of Karelia and walk around the city of Sortavala and the ancient marble quarry Ruskeala.

The fact is that, recently, Russian Railways launched a train on the route Moscow – Sortavala (Republic of Karelia). The train is modern, there are 3 types of the sleeping cars (check out my stories Ruskeala . The cost of a ticket is from 20 to 65 USD. Everything is well arranged: in the evening at 17:30 you take the train from the Leningradsky railway station, and in the morning at 6:34 you are already in Sortavala. And then the most interesting: our cars were attached to a retro train, and so, on a locomotive traction, accompanied by the clouds exhaled by our retro train, we went to the Ruskeala park (ancient marble quarry)! (about an hour on the way)


By the way, in such a trip you can put things in a carriage and save on a hotel. Although, in summer, I would certainly stay in Karelia longer.

IMPORTANT: the train from Moscow runs for periods until March 8, then from March 21 to March 28 and then from April 30 to August 30. But from St. Petersburg you can always get the train Lastochka number 821 to go to Sortavala. A retro-train from Sortavala to Ruskeala runs daily. In the retro cars, an audio excursion about the history of the train is periodically turned on.

Train tickets can be bought at the official website RZD at the box office on the stations or through the Russian Railways application.

And now about the impressions: THIS IS JUST UNFORGETTABLE! The design of cars in the style of the late XIX - early XX centuries, conductors in the uniform of that time, tea in iron cup holders, traditional Karelian pastries, a steam locomotive signal, clouds of smoke outside the window and retro music on the platform - all this creates a special atmosphere of the past!



The train from Moscow brought us to Sortavala at 6:34. We still slept until 8 and went for breakfast at the PiinPuha hotel. Everything was very tasty, and I also liked the location of this hotel - right on the shore of Lake Läppäjärvi.


Back to the station we went on foot to get acquainted with the city of Sortavala. It took us about half an hour to get through the whole center, however, we did not see all the sights. Such a small quiet town with ancient architecture, influenced by many cultures.
More than 6 thousand years ago, Sami tribes lived here. In the VII-IX centuries, the Karelian tribes came here, later these lands passed into the possession of the Novgorod Republic, then the Moscow kingdom.
And from 1580 to 1597 and from 1617 to 1721, these lands belonged to Sweden, and it was the Swedes who founded the city under the name Sordavala in 1632. In general, due to its favorable geographical position, the city constantly moved from one state to another and changed its name.
After the Northern War, Sordavala returned to the Russian Empire and turned into the village of Serdobol with a population of 30 people.

And in 1811, by decree of Emperor Alexander I, the city was part of the Principality of Finland;
In December 1917 IN AND. By its decree, Lenin granted Finland complete independence from Russia. Sortavala (as the city is now called) becomes a foreign country;
But after the Soviet-Finnish war, territories, including the city of Sortavala, the USSR departed.
In the center of Sortavala are very beautiful Finnish Apmir and Art Nouveau houses. The first town hall building was built in 1885.


The Town Hall throughout its history has been the center of life of the city. A burgomaster worked for a long time within it, receptions, festive dinners, ceremonies, city meetings, court hearings were held, and the city council was gathering here.
And now concerts and other events are taking place here.


Ruskeala park – marble quarry  

Returning to the station, you will find that your wagons are attached to a real retro train that will bring you to Ruskeala park!


I advise you to go to Ruskeala in a restaurant car, having ordered tea in iron cup holders, Karelian pastries “kalitki” and enjoying the fabulous views of Karelia from the window, accompanied by clouds issued by the retro train. The road will take about an hour and a half.


In the 17th century, the Swedes began to develop here a canyon and produce marble chippings for building lime. After the victory in the Northern War between Sweden and Russia, the canyon passed into possession of Russia. When Catherine II launched the global construction of St. Petersburg, marble extraction in Ruskeala has been renewed. Many magnificent palaces, cathedrals and even metro stations of St. Petersburg and other cities are decorated with marble from Ruskeala. In particular, St. Isaac's and Kazan Cathedrals, the Winter Palace.

Now it is a very beautiful park and canyon with water of turquoise color. Now, having been there both in winter and summer, I can say that the place is beautiful at any time of the year.


So, what to do in Ruskeala park:

1. Walk around the park with a guided tour or without. You will learn about the history of the quarry, as well as interesting facts about the extraction of marble.

2. If you come in summer, rent a boat and enjoy the walk accompanied by seagulls swimming in the grottoes.

3. If you are brave, fly over the quarry on a zip-line. I did not dare to try, maybe in vain.

4. Visit an underground tour and see the Marble Canyon from inside, touch the history of the creation of a marble quarry. The photo is just from there.


And I was so you touched by the museum Angels’ abode (Obitel angelov) with wooden figures. But it’s not only about admiring them, but also the deep sense put into each composition!