Introducing North Karelia
Even today, Finland’s wild frontier has many southerners imagining wolves and Russian border raids. True, the sparsely populated area does have some of Finland’s best wildlife, but you’d be lucky to see a wolf or a bear on even the most rugged treks. And you will see Russian influence too – in stunning Orthodox cathedrals and old towns.
North Karelia has had more than its share of strife, fought over for centuries by Sweden and Russia, and having seen fierce fighting during the Winter and Continuation Wars. Its towns are modern – older incarnations were razed by the Russians during WWII – and you’ll often stumble across trenches, old battlegrounds and memorials to the fallen inside the quiet forests.
Just beyond North Karelia, Kuhmo also has a Karelian heritage though it’s not strictly part of this province.