Welcome to Petrozavodsk
Set on a bay on vast Lake Onega, Petrozavodsk is the launching point for summer visits to two of the region's biggest attractions: Kizhi Island and Valaam Monastery. The name (‘Peter’s factory’) refers to a munitions plant founded here by Peter the Great in 1703, and superseded 70 years later by the Alexandrovskiy Ironworks (still standing). But Petrozavodsk is by no means the gritty, industrial city its name would suggest. Its neoclassical facades, a large student population and connections with Finland all make for a distinctly European atmosphere, and the appealing lakefront promenade is made for strolling. There are no truly must-see sights here, but it's a pleasant enough place to spend a day or two before or after a trip to Kizhi.