The unusual beauty of the Ruskeala mountain park is worth a visit to Karelia. The Marble Canyon and underground caves, created 300 years ago by human hands, are today turned into a monument of nature and the history of mining. I came to Ruskeala Park on the retro train «Ruskeala Express», went on ground and underground excursions, swept across the lake on a ferry. How to get to Ruskeala park, sightseeing, entertainment, past and present of Ruskeala marble quarries.
How to get to Ruskeala Park
Ruskeala Park is located 37 km on north-west from the city of Sortavala — popular tourist center of Karelia. There are direct trains to Sortavala from St. Petersburg and Moscow. timetables and tickets
From St. Petersburg, you can go to Ruskeala Park with a bus tour. In addition to the mountain park, you will visit the Korela fortress in Priozersk, Sortavala, the Akhvenkoski waterfalls and the Lutheran church. more
Bus tour to the Ruskeala mountain park Explore the marble canyon and spend a day surrounded by the fabulous nature of Karelia
Ruskeala Park can be reached from Sortavala by car, retro train or taxi.
- Retro train «Ruskeala Express» docked with the arrival of trains from St. Petersburg and Moscow, travels 1 hour. timetable and ticketsTaxi Sortavala-Ruskeala costs about 800 rubles per car. There are no direct buses to the mountain park. Buses run from the Sortavala bus station and arrive at the Ruskeala-1 stop (2 km from the entrance to the park). timetables and tickets
For those who come to the park by car, there are two free parking lots: one at the main entrance and the visitor center, the second is closer to the railway platform.
Retro locomotive-drawn train «Ruskeala Express» will take you to Ruskeala park in the most spectacular way. This tourist route was opened on June 1, 2019 and immediately became extremely popular. Tickets for the retro train are sold on the website, in the mobile application and at any railway ticket office.
- Ticket for Ruskeala Express
You can buy a ticket with departure from Moscow directly to the mountain park Ruskeala — direct train is more convenient and cheaper. The cars of train 160 are attached to the Ruskeala Express in Sortavala, I rode it from Moscow in the SV car. You do not have to get off the train early in the morning, but you can sleep peacefully and then go to the retro train from your car and see everything. When buying in one round-trip order, a 20% discount applies to the return ticket.
- Ticket for the Moscow train — Ruskeala Mountain Park
Retro train «Ruskeala Express» walks every day. He leaves for the mountain park from Sortavala at 10:40. This is convenient for those who come to Sortavala by Lastochka from St. Petersburg. Back to Sortavala «Ruskeala Express» leaves at 17:30 and arrives at 18:30, also under the “Swallow”.
On the dates of peak demand, additional flights of the Ruskeala Express are introduced. On the days of events in the park, a special flight St. Petersburg & # 8212; Mountain park Ruskeala. see timetable
«Ruskeala Express» was created on the model of & # 171; Nikolaev Express & # 187; late XIX — beginning of XX centuries. Immersion in the atmosphere of that time is facilitated by the historical shape of the conductors and interiors: green lamps, curtains with tassels, black and white photographs, leather armchairs. The retro train consists of 6 cars: 4 seated compartment cars and 2 dining cars.
If you want to sit in the dining car — Hurry up to get your seats or buy tickets with meals. The menu includes light snacks, hot and cold drinks, pastries.
You can celebrate a significant event with a trip in a VIP compartment. The ticket price includes a welcome drink, fruit, a certificate to order from the restaurant car, which will be delivered to you directly in the compartment. With such a trip, a 4-seater compartment is fully redeemed.
There is also a special photo compartment in the retro train. You can stay in it for up to 10 minutes, the entrance fee is 300 rubles. An interactive photo system is installed inside, which takes snapshots in virtual historical outfits. The printed image is framed in a stylistic frame.
Before the departure of the retro train, we had time to examine the locomotive, hear how it hums and blows black smoke. The road flew by unnoticed, it was impossible to tear yourself away from the views of Karelian nature rushing past the window.
“Karelia will be a dream for a long time…” Picturesque waterfalls, caves and the history of the region
«Ruskeala Express» arrives at the far entrance to the park, where there are ticket offices and a left-luggage office (the cost of a cell is 100 rubles). To save time, entrance tickets to the Ruskeala Mountain Park can be bought directly on the train at the ticket terminals.
The creation of the Ruskeala Mountain Park project began in 2005, earlier there were abandoned marble quarries on this site. The owner of the facility is Kolmas Karelia. The total area of the park is 32 hectares.
Ruskeala Park — This is a specially protected natural area. It is forbidden to set up tents, make fires, have picnics, swim, go beyond the fences, throw stones and other objects in the park. Violation of the rules threatens with fines and administrative penalties under federal and Karelian laws.
The park can be visited with dogs with a leash and a muzzle. Pets will not be allowed in cafes, boat trips and the Underground Ruskeala excursion.
Ruskeala Mountain Park is open every day, opening hours depend on the season:
- Summer 09:00 -21:00Autumn 09:00-21:00Winter 10:00-19:00Spring 09:00-21:00
Tickets to Ruskeala Park
Entrance tickets to Ruskeala Park are sold at ticket offices, terminals and online on the park's website. Entrance fee is not included in the tour price.
- Individual visitors — 400 rub.Students — 200 rub.Schoolchildren — RUB 150Guests 60+ — 200 rubles Residents of the Sortavala region — RUB 50. Free for children under 7, disabled people and veterans (according to documents)
Tickets for excursions and entertainment can now only be bought on the spot, but soon they promise to sell through the site. It is also not possible to book a seat in advance. The cost of excursions is 550-2000 rubles per person.
Marble Canyon Tour
I, as part of a group, went on a sightseeing tour «Marble Canyon». This is a 1.3 km long walking route with stories about the history of Ruskeala quarries. The guides are dressed in national Karelian clothes, live in the area and are well informed. Whether you take an excursion or walk around the park on your own, it is very interesting to learn its history.
History of Ruskeala quarries
Ruskeala marble quarries began to be developed by the Swedes around the middle of the 17th century. As a result of the Northern War, this territory was ceded to Russia, and since 1766, marble mining for the Russian Empire began in the Ruskeala quarries.
Catherine II ordered the use of Ruskeala marble for the construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral, the decoration of the Marble Palace, Kazan Cathedral, Peterhof. «Marble of the White Nights» was mined by drilling and blasting, which is why the size of the quarries was constantly increasing.
Ruskeala mountain park, Marble canyon and Ahinkoski waterfalls in one day A picturesque lake, grottoes, mines, marble mountains and stunning views on an auto-walking tour
When the Vyborg province became part of Finland, the Finns built marble here – a lime plant, from which four old chimneys remain. The extraction of marble began to be carried out also by the mine method, many kilometers of tunnels appeared underground.
After the war, the restoration of the Ruskeala plant began, but the Main Quarry was no longer used and it gradually filled with water. The development of the deposit was finally completed in the early 2000s.
The main attraction of the mountain park is the Marble Canyon. Its length is 456 meters, width is 109 meters. The height of steep cliffs reaches 20-25 meters. The water in the canyon is emerald green. In several places, grottoes have formed, into which you can swim by boat.
The perimeter of the canyon is surrounded by fences, equipped with signs and information boards. Observation platforms have been made in the most beautiful places. Due to its extraordinary photogenicity, Ruskeala has become a favorite place for photo shoots and film sets for films.
Near the Rock of Catherine II there is an Old mine 55 meters deep and the entrance to the adits. Here you can see a piece of the underground Ruskeala, but it's better to go on a special tour.
Underground tour of the mines — the most interesting excursion of the mountain park. To get a seat in a group, especially on weekends, it is advised to arrive early and buy a ticket right away. The service is not bookable and is available for purchase at the box office and ticket terminals of the park on the day of the visit.
Groups (maximum 15 people) are formed on the spot on a first-come, first-served basis. The temperature in the adits is around +6…+8°C all year round, bring warm clothes with you. Children from 3 years old are allowed on the underground tour, animals are not allowed. The route of 850 meters is designed for 60 minutes.
Before the start of the tour, all participants undergo a safety briefing, sign in a journal and receive equipment — vest and helmet.
As the guide told us, an old Finnish woman gave a map of the underground galleries to Ruskeala Park. In return, she asked to create a museum dedicated to the workers of the Ruskeala quarries. It will be built soon. Speleologists of the Russian Geographical Society are engaged in scientific research of dungeons.
At the entrance it is still dry and light, photographs of the dungeon at different times of the year hang on the walls. As you go, it gets darker, water flows along the edges of the path, vaults overhang and everything seems mysterious. Speleologists call the Ruskeala galleries “underground space”.
You go through a mining tunnel, find numbers on the walls, small stalactites hanging from the ceiling, and you come to an underground lake. This is a large hall with marble columns and grottoes, along the perimeter of which there is a bridge.
In the middle of the lake there is a huge hole from where you can see the sky and people. They turned on the lights with music, which added effect to an already impressive place. Project «Cave Lighting» was developed by a German company specializing in the illumination of underground objects.
The underground tour ends with a walk along Marble Lake on an electric ferry. The views from the water are no less beautiful than from above. Boats sailed past us and trolls riding screamed past us.
The beauty and legends of Karelia Feel the spirit of the forest on the mystical mountain and admire Lake Ladoga from the observation platforms
Ruskeala Park in winter
Winter in Ruskeala Mountain Park is as popular as summer. The Marble Canyon freezes over, and at nightfall the lights in the park turn on.
Artistic illumination of the Marble Canyon is open from November to mid-March. The backlight turns on at 16:00-17:30, depending on the length of daylight hours.
241 individually controlled 36-watt LED spotlights are used to illuminate the Ruskeala park. The play of colored lanterns is reminiscent of the northern lights.
In winter, the water of the underground lake freezes, forming bizarre shapes. Masters — ice carvers make voluminous ice compositions that do not melt until the end of May. Ice for sculptures is mined directly from an underground lake.
The theme of each season is always different: copies of the architectural masterpieces of St. Petersburg and the lost churches of Karelia, heroes of the epic «Kalevala», representatives of the animal world. You can see this beauty in the Great Hall of Columns on the tour «Underground Ruskeala».
During the New Year holidays, a Christmas tree is set up in Ruskeala Park, a New Year's fair, festive festivities, performances of dance groups, master classes, games, contests and folk amusements await guests. You can ride in a snow-covered park in a horse-drawn carriage, on a winter banana or snowmobile.
Museum «Abode of the Angels»
Museum of Wooden Sculpture «Abode of Angels» in Ruskeala park is small but very nice. Visitors note the special atmosphere and emotions from visiting this place.
Sculptures and entire compositions carved from wood with a chainsaw are exhibited under the transparent dome. This is a unique technique that has no analogues in the world. Authors — winners of international woodcarving festivals Alexander Ivchenko and Alexander Alferov.
- ticket 200 rubles50% discount for schoolchildren, students, pensionersfree children under 7 years website
Boat trip through the Ladoga skerries on a motor boat Surrender to the beauty of Karelian nature and learn about local legends in a friendly adventure
Entertainment and services
Entertainment in Ruskeala park depends on the season. On weekends, queues form for popular attractions (trolls, boats). Only experienced divers with a license and their own equipment are allowed to dive. Snowmobiles and ATVs are booked in advance by phone. Check prices and conditions on the park website.
- Trolley (Zip-line) — 1200 rubBungee (rope jump from a cliff 20 m high) — 1500 rubWater trip along Marble Lake — 1000 rub/hour per boat (maximum 4 people), from May 23 to October 1 Riding on a self-propelled platform — 250 rub/personKubik Rope Park — 500 rubSecret paths of the Earth KALEVALA — 100 rubDiving 1 dive — 5000 rub, from May 1 to October 1Snowmobiling/ATV riding — from 3,500 rubles/snowmobileWinter sleigh “jolly banana” — 500 rub/personHorse-drawn carriage — 500 rub/person
On the territory of the Ruskeala park there are cafes, souvenir and grocery stores, toilets, a playground. We drank tea with branded Karelian wickets (open pies) at the Leto cafe. You can dine at Kolmas Burgers, Ruskolka cafe or at the «Grill» (works from June 1 to September 30). All of them are located on the site at the main entrance to the park and the visitor center.
There are no hotels in the mountain park itself, but you can stay nearby. Many people prefer to stay in guest houses near the water, where they offer a sauna, fishing, barbecue.
- Cozy houses in Ruskeala — 4-bed cabins, log cabins with all amenities on the lake. 5 minutes by car to Ruskeala park. House by the river — cottage for 6 guests (2 bedrooms) at the threshold of the Taimaeki river. A secluded location, a lot of space for walking, an equipped gazebo with a barbecue, a wood-fired sauna. It is 2 km to Ruskeala Park on a footpath or 3 minutes by car. Hotel Piipun Piha (House with a Chimney) in Sortavala belongs to the owners of the park «Ruskeala». A beautiful place on the shore of Lake Ladoga, I had lunch and dinner there.
My impressions of visiting the Ruskeala mountain park coincide with the opinion of the majority — beautiful, unusual, interesting. If possible, come to the park for special events. Ruskeala hosts open-air concerts. The musicians perform directly from the floating platform in the Marble Canyon.
Sortavala is the most Finnish city in Russia Touch the history of the city that has changed three names and enjoy the nature of the Northern Ladoga region