Ruskeala mountain park in Karelia

by Elena on September 17, 2018

One of the most striking and surprising places of the Northern Ladoga area is the Ruskeala Mountain Park, a unique and multidimensional monument to nature and the history of mining.

The heart of the park lies in the Marble Canyon. An old abandoned quarry, which delivered stone for almost three centuries, now caters for tourists. A huge bowl, carved by people in marble, stretches 456 meters from north to south, and is 109 meters wide. Filled with the purest emerald-green water, it is framed by slightly sloping and steep rocks, reaching a height of 25 meters above the water mirror.

The sides of the canyon are cut with open and underwater galleries, drifts, and shafts. These developments, accessible and prepared for visiting stretch a total of several hundred meters. However, only trained divers can explore the underwater mines. In Ruskeala, you can see preserved exotic mosses, lichens, orchid plants, and shrubs, listed in the Red Book; rare species of reptiles, amphibians, and bats can also be observed here.

The marble mine is a unique natural site, being also a monument to the industrial history of four peoples — the Karelians, Swedes, Russians, and Finns. Nowhere else in Europe is there such a monument, a man-made «bowl» in a continuous array of marble, cut with a system of mines, tunnels, and drifts.

The marble mine near the village of Ruskeala was discovered in 1766 by S. Apelius, a pastor and ethnographer from the local town of Serdobolya. In subsequent years, the mining of four varieties of marble was established: ash gray, gray and green, white streaked with gray, and white, gray and blue. Marble from the quarry was used in the decoration of architectural structures of St. Petersburg in the second half of the 18th century — mid 19th century, as well as in Sortavala and Valaam in the late 19th — early 20th centuries. The same marble was used in Ruskeala to produce lime.

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