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National Park of Kenozerye: Land of the Lakes and Sacred Grooves
October 12, 2009 16:48

The National park of Kenozerye is situated on the South-west of Arkhangelsk Region not far from the frontier with the Republic of Karelia. The name of the park is tied with the lake of Kenozero on its territory. This lake is a part of the system of lakes, forming the water route. This natural area of preferential protection is however notable not only for the variety of species on its territory, but also for the monuments of material and spiritual culture, the authentic culture of the Russian North, which combines the Finno-Ugric elements with the Russian ones, the paganism and Christianity. The monuments of this culture are not only material, like the wooden chapels and houses, sky-ceilings etc; among them the Russian epic poetry, preserved in this region, is to be mentioned.


The nature of this region appeared on the frontier of two geological platforms, the Baltic Shield and the Russian platform, and on the water parting between the basins of the White and Baltic seas. It is a curious fact, that there are very many lakes on this territory, although it is not characteristically for the areas of the watershed divide. Several floral and faunal complexes are in contact here, which provides a wide variety of the landscapes and species. Among the birds, living in the park are such IUCN Red List species as the Lesser White-fronted Goose, the Osprey and the White-tailed Eagle.

The flora species of particular interest are the plants of the Orchid family, most of them are in the Red List.

Humanized landscape

The humanized landscape of Kenozerye is a thing of extrinsic value. The people lived here from the Neolithic age. The beginning of the second millennium was marked with the Russian colonization: the immigrants from Novgorod followed north-east on their boats, through the rivers and lakes, occupying the new lands. Some of them went further, to Yugra or Perm, others stayed here. The elements of cultures of the aboriginal peoples and of Novgorodians came into symbiosis. The tradition of the sacred grooves is a good example of this syncretism. The wooden chapels stay in the groves, which are supposed to be sacred. The rivers and brooks, flowing through these groves, are also sacred. The fishing was prohibited there, but swimming – not. There are also sacred stones and trees. The attribute of the sacred tree is a well next to it. The sacred trees are often the spruces. The grooves are supposed to be sacred before the building of the chapels. The Christians supposed the grooves to belong to the saint, the chapel is devoted. The specific element of decoration of these chapels is so-called sky-ceiling. It is a painted round ceiling where the apostles and the Crucifixion are represented. The orthodox rites were carried out in such chapels, but the liturgy – not. That’s why they are not churches.

Russian epic poetry

Kenozerye is one of the centres of the Russian epic poetry. The Novgorodians have brought here the Russian epic tales, and the tradition of telling or singing these epics preserved here till the 19th century. The ethnographers and folklorists, coming there, fixed this immaterial culture monument for the future. Unfortunately, the tradition disappeared.

Tourist possibilities

The tourists, coming to the national park, are suggested to take part in the ecological routes, different length and difficulty. The tourists, coming for a one day, are suggested excursions, not only walking ones, but bus excursions as well. The park provides possibilities for different types of tourism: ecological, sightseeing, outdoor activities. The tourist services are provided both for summer and winter periods.


The possibilities of accommodation in the park, if you’ve decided to stay there a few days, are also wide: visit-centres, traditional country houses and cottages, moreover, camping is also possible, in the special areas. Cafes and shops on the territory of the reserve help to solve the food problem. Besides all these possibilities, there is an ecological children's campus, functioning in the summer period. The campus provides an educational program. The children from abroad are also welcome in the campus.

Get Russian visa support without much ado.

Yulia Buzykina


Tags: Karelia Arkhangelsk Region Ecotourism Russian National Parks  

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