Discover Historic Sortavala

Located at the northern tip of the stunning Lake Ladoga, Sortavala is a beautiful medium-sized town in the Karelia province of Russia. According to a census taken in 2002, there are over 21 000 people living in Sortavala. This may have change, however, since it would seem that there is a tendency towards a decline in the local population as time progresses. This is a trend which is quite common in many of the small towns of Karelia.

Sortavala in Russia is quite an old town. It was first mentioned in 1468 in Swedish documents relating to the area. The first mention of the area in Russian documents was made in 1500. Thus it is not as old as other towns in the region, but it is old and it has a rich history. The area was ceded to Sweden shortly after the Ingrian War, so it has a strong Swedish background. The actual town as it is known today seems to have been founded in 1632. It would seem that Sortavala has long been a sort of political pawn used by Russia, Finland and Sweden during the various wars. Not long after being ceded to Sweden, it became a part of Old Finland. It was then reclaimed by Russia in 1721 in accord with the conditions of the Treaty of Nystad. At this point, it was given the Russian name of ‘Serdobol’. It quickly gained fame, being noted for having excellent marble and granite quarries which were instrumental in providing materials for the building of imperial palaces in Saint Petersburg and other official buildings. Then, in 1812, it once again fell under the control of Finland after being joined to the newly formed Grand Duchy of Finland.

It remained a part of Finland for some time and the town saw a lot of hardship during the Winter War wherein it was ceded to the Soviet Union through the conditions stipulated in the Moscow Peace Treaty Finland. As a result, the entire population of the town was evacuated to Finland for the first time in the town’s history. Its inhabitants were eventually able to return home to rebuild their lives during the Continuation War (1941-1944), only to abandon them again after the armistice of 1944. After the war the town eventually became resettled permanently by Slavs, but the former glory that it had seen was a thing of the past. Today Sortavala is one of the most densely populated areas on the Karelian Isthmus. It is mostly populated by Karelians and it is seen as an important station on the Vyborg-Joensuu railroad. So come to Sortavala and discover the history, culture and natural beauty of this interesting town for yourself.

 



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