Petroglyphs of Lake Onega are valuable examples of the prehistoric rock carving art on the territory of northern Russia.

Onega Lake petroglyphs (rock carvings) are located in Onega Lake in the Russian region of Karelia, on the capes of “Besov Nos” and “Peri Nos”. The nearest town is Pudozh.

These petroglyphs are dated back to the 4th or 3rd millennium BC.

Petroglyphs of Lake Onega are symbolic. They may depict the sun and the moon, enigmatic signs and imaginary creatures. The ideas of prehistoric people about the world around are conveyed in some pictures, for example, the sign of the moon has legs, because the moon "goes" over the sky.

The most famous petroglyph is a 2.5-meter long human-like figure. It is called “bes” which means an evil spirit or a demon. This resulted in the name of the area, Besov Nos (Demon's Cape) and in later attempts to neutralize the "devilish pictures" by carving Christian crosses on the figures of the demon and a swan, probably dated back to the 15th Century.

The place is beautiful. Petroglyphs are carved on the rocks that descend into the water. An abandoned lighthouse is located nearby. The path to petroglyphs goes along the sandy beach of Onega Lake.

On 28 July 2021 World Heritage Committee inscribed petroglyps of Lake Onega on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Read our blog post about the trip to petroglyphs of Lake Onega.

Getting here

Petroglyphs of Lake Onega are difficult to access. There are two travel options.

1. You can get there by water, crossing Lake Onega. This route depends on weather.
There is no proper pier in the area of petroglyphs, therefore a large vessel cannot be docked, and it is necessary to land on small motor boats.

2. You can travel by car to the River Chyornaya (black) in Pudozh District and boat down the river until you reach Lake Onega. The distance is 17 km, travel time is about 90 minutes. The hike along the shore of Onega Lake to Besov Nos Cape takes about 15-20 minutes.