The city of Petrozavodsk was founded in 1703 and today it is an important centre of tourism in the North-West of Russia.

Petrozavodsk is the capital of the Republic of Karelia and its cultural and business centre. The city is a starting point for the trips to Kizhi Island, Kivach Waterfall, Karelian villages etc.

The city stands on the western shore of Lake Onega and extends for the distance of 10 kilometres. The population amounts to approximately 280,000 people.

The history of Petrozavodsk has started in 1703, when Tzar Peter the Great ordered to build a cast-iron foundry at the place where the river Lososinka flows into Onega Lake. At the same time a small settlement for workers was established which was named as Petrovskaya Sloboda. The foundry produced cannons and other military equipment for navy ships.

In 1777, during the reign of Empress Catherine the Great the settlement was granted city status and new name – Petrozavodsk (Peter’s factory).

Petrozavodsk historical centre walk

The main street of the city is Lenin Avenue. The avenue goes from the railway station to Onega embankment. There are many cafes and restaurants, administrative and residential buildings. Some of them are notable for their architecture. In particular, hotel Severnaya of the 1930s and two wooden buildings opposite the hotel, constructed in 1917-18 in the style of northern Art Nouveau.

From Lenin Avenue, there is just a short stroll to Lenin Square, formerly named as Round Square and Peter’s Square. The square hosts one of the top landmarks of Petrozavodsk - four neoclassical buildings of the late 18th Century. In the centre of the square, one can see a big granite monument to Vladimir Lenin, holding a winter hat in his right hand.

After leaving Lenin Square, we enter Karl Marx Avenue, one more geographical denomination of the Soviet period. Formerly this street was named English Avenue. The reason for that was the fact that Catherine the Great invited foreign engineers to work at the newly built cast-iron foundry and the majority of them were of English and Scottish origin. Charles Gascoigne, a prominent British industrialist, was the head of the foundry in the late 18th Century. In 2021, a bust to Gascoigne was established in Karl Marx Avenue.

Karl Marx Avenue leads to Kirov Square. Until 1918, this square was called Cathedral Square and hosted the monument to Emperor Alexander II, two churches and the huge Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. None of those survived the Soviet times. Now the building of the Musical Theatre and the monument to Sergei Kirov, a prominent communist leader of 1920-30s stand in the square.

Then we proceed to the Onega Lake Embankment. At the beginning of the embankment we see the monument to Peter the Great. The city founder has full ceremonial dress on. His right arm points to the mouth of Lososinka River where the first cannon foundry was located. Initially the monument was situated on the Round square (Lenin Square), but after the revolution it was replaced by Lenin monument.

Petrozavodsk has several sister cities and on the embankment we can observe the gifts presented to the city on their behalf – unusual sculptural compositions created by modern architects from various cities such as Duluth (USA), Varkaus (Finland), Umeo (Sweden), Mo I Rana (Norway), Neubrandenburg and Tübingen (Germany), La Rochelle (France).

Between the building of the Cosmos Petrozavodsk Hotel and the mouth of the Neglinka River there is Historic Building Quarter - several interesting wooden buildings of the 19th-20th centuries. At the mouth of the Neglinka River you can often find ducks and other waterfowl.

Petrozavodsk Museums

The city hosts several interesting museums and galleries.

National Museum of the Republic of Karelia

The museum is situated in the historical building in the centre of the city. Its exhibitions are devoted to nature, archaeology, history, folklore and ethnography of Karelia.

Address: Lenin Square, 1. Working hours (subject to change): from Tuesday till Sunday 10:00-18:00. Closed – Monday.

The Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Karelia

The collection includes works of Russian art from XVIII – till the beginning of XX Century, decorative-applied art, art of XX Century, Old-Russian art and Karelian art of XX Century. There is a special exhibit showcasing the art of Kalevala, the famous Karelian-Finnish epos. The collection of North Russia icons is of significant interest as it features several unique icons of the XVI-XVIII centuries.

Address: Karl Marx Avenue, 8. Working hours (subject to change): Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday 10:00-18:00, Thursday 12:00-20:00. Closed – Monday.

Art gallery “Doll House”

This small private museum was created in 1999 by Tatyana Kalinina. The exhibition is based on the collection of handmade dolls – nixies, female hobgoblins, mermaids, house spirits brownies and other fairy tales’ characters and “Karelian ghosts”.

Address: La Rochelle Embankment, 13. Working hours (subject to change): from Monday till Saturday 12:00-17:00. Closed – Sunday.

Questions & Answers

How long does it take to get to Petrozavodsk by car from Finland and St. Petersburg?

Getting by car from Helsinki in Finland to Petrozavodsk in Russia takes about 12-14 hours (distance ~730 km). .

Getting by car from Joensuu in Finland to Petrozavodsk takes about 6-7 hours (distance ~360 km).

Getting by car from St. Petersburg to Petrozavodsk takes about 6 hours (distance ~450 km).

Should you need a private transfer from Finland or St. Petersburg to Petrozavodsk or vice versa, please don't hesitate to contact us.