The Vepsi are a small Finno-Ugric people, relatives of Estonians, Karelians and Finns. In the 11th-12th centuries Vepsa were baptized, but pagan rites are still preserved in their everyday life, traditions and culture. Veps were always surrounded by forests, rivers and swamps. From time immemorial, these people have lived in picturesque places, which you will visit as part of this trip. Tourists rarely visit the Veps forest, and to get here is not easy - most roads in the thick of the forest will be overcome only by off-road vehicles. But still, we will try to drive through the Veps forest in a regular car, try to touch this magical edge. And even in this case - I guarantee you - miracles will not go without.
The way to Veps forest is not very close. We will leave all the interesting things for the second and third day, and today we will enjoy the beauty of the Old Ladoga and the River Svir. In the evening we will visit the pearl of the "Wooden Ring of Podporozhye" - the church of St. Elisey.
In 1941-1944 at Sinyavinskie heights there were fierce battles for Leningrad. More than 360 thousand people died in the surroundings - only those who could be raised and identified were buried in the mass grave, which is about 1000 people. The rest of the soldiers found peace in the gorges, funnels and dugouts. The memorial, which represents two large alleys with monuments and memorial plaques, reminds us of the heroism of Soviet soldiers.
Not far from the Old Ladoga, on the bank of the Volkhov River there is a group of barrows. The tallest of them is called the Prophetic Oleg barrow. In the "Novgorod Chronicle" it is indicated that the Grand Duke of Kiev is buried on Ladoga (not on the Dnieper, as at Pushkin). There were no funeral things in the mound, but the mounds are still considered a "place of power". Besides, it is a magnificent observation platform.
We'll have lunch at the Ancient Ladoga Cafe. This is a cozy place with a Russian stove and an adequate price tag. The name of the cafe is not accidental: according to archaeological data, the Old Ladoga is the oldest city in Russia.
We're going to take a break on the bank of the Sviritsa River. In ancient times, these parts were called Vodskaya penta. There's plenty of water here, really. Let's remember these beautiful fish places for the future and hurry on.
The Veps Fair introduces Veps crafts to tourists. Right on the bank of the river Sviri stands about 30 wooden log cabins, each of which offers exclusive products - dishes, handicrafts made of birch bark, handkerchiefs, patchwork. Try not to get stuck at the fair for long - there is one more curious sight ahead of you.
The pearl of the "Wooden Ring of Porozhye" is the Church of St. Elisey on the bank of Sidozero. It is difficult to access: you will have to walk from the nearest dacha settlement about 2 km or ask locals to drop off at the church by boat. The village of Vavshukovskaya, where the temple is located, is uninhabited. On a weedy field you can see only a couple of houses that have sagged from time. The church was built in 1899 on the money of a 30-year-old merchant Andreev, who was selling lace. The temple was notable for its rich finish and elegant exterior: the merchant obviously was not stingy on his creation. In 1930, by decision of the Soviet authorities, the church was closed, and thirty years later the village was deserted. Since then, the church has not known repair, but its beauty is still creepy. It embraces an inexpressible feeling: admiration with great sadness.
Back to Podporozhye for dinner. Check out "My Restaurant" - the best place in the city. Pleasant atmosphere, friendly waiters, worthy menu with even Ossetian pies.
In the morning you will visit the village of Vinnitsa, the cultural center of the Oyat Veps. We will move along the river and admire beautiful landscapes, look for signs of life in tiny villages and express respect for ancient shrines. For dinner we will taste Vepsian delicacies: without it our mini-journey would be incomplete.
The village of Vinnitsa is a cultural center of the Oyat Veps. Every June since 1989 there has been a national holiday of Veps people "Tree of Life". Traditionally, the holiday attracts Veps, Karelians, Izhora and representatives of other nationalities. The local house of culture houses the Vepsa Folklore Centre, which is certainly worth a visit. And don't forget to stop by the grocery store to buy food with you: we'll have lunch in the countryside.
Not far from the village of Jaroslavic there is the "Holy Stone" - an ancient Vepsa sanctuary. However, finding this stone is not an easy task. In Yaroslavichi you have to cross the Oyat River by a suspension bridge, then by a trail to the village Cold Stream. There is indeed a stream in the centre of the village, and the water in it is very cold and delicious. From here we go to the village of Churruchay. Don't worry: the villages are tiny and in the neighborhood. Here you need to find a path that leads to the forest and walk a couple of kilometers along it. On the bank of a stream, after a high slope, there will be a shrine. Veps believe that stones and rocks are the abode of spirits that can both help and harm. That is why it is customary for sacred stones to leave gifts: towels, candles, icons, money.
We go on, admiring the beauty of the forest. Only hunters and fishermen who come here for prey know about these edges. The roads along the Oyati River are only dirt. But before it was not so: only forests, swamps and rough rivers. There's even an old proverb: "If you go to Oyati, you'll never see the light again". The banks of Oyati are hilly. Some places offer stunning panoramic views, for which these edges are sometimes called "Vepsa Switzerland". For example, the village of Lashkovo boasts good views. There are almost no locals in the small villages that you will meet on the way. The extinction of the villages began in the 1930s, when the first collective farms began to appear. Before that, the Veps lived in huge families, 3-4 generations each.
In the village of Tervenichi we'll stop by to visit the Cover-Tervenic Nunnery. Mention of Tervenichesky pogost can be found in Russian chronicles of the beginning of XII century. This snow-white complex literally rose from the ashes - or rather, from one half-destroyed church, which survived many years of oblivion.
We'll stop by the Verizhitsa restaurant for dinner. Here you can taste dishes of Vepsa cuisine: mushroom bread, wickets with cottage cheese or mashed potatoes, trout in puff pastry. Plus, authentic atmosphere and beautiful forest around. It's impossible to wish for more!
Today you will conquer one of the ecological trails laid out in the Veps forest. On the way you will meet fairytale huts, stormy streams, picturesque glades. After the walk through the forest we'll hurry home, but before we do, we'll have a look at Shugozero.
Isn't it time to stop on vacation? You can warm up, fill up and buy goods on the way at Gazpromneft's filling stations.
We'll make a stop on the shore of Shugozer. It lies in a deep hollow and is surrounded by hilly shores. Clean air, pine forests, beautiful landscapes - a great start to the day!
There are three environmental trails in Veps Park. The most popular is "Lukinskaya". It starts in the village of Lukino, which is almost completely empty. The main value of the trail is the karst spring "Big Cascade" (or "Kipuns"). The source is powerful: every second about 840 liters flow out from the mountain slope. In the 30's Lukinska hydroelectric power plant appeared here, which provided the surrounding villages with electricity. In 1973, the hydropower plant was closed - only rusty pipes overgrown with moss have survived from it. On the way you will meet a non-residential "gingerbread house", which is just over a hundred years old, and a rocky hill - it overlooks the reserve "Urya-Kanzhaia".
On the way back, we'll stop at a supermarket in the village of Shugozero. I suggest we have a picnic on the lake shore and have a good refreshment - the way home is not so close. Historical reference. Shugozero is a village quite ancient. Earlier there were two pogostas in its place, the temples of which dated back to the 18th century. The name of the village comes from the Vepsian word "suh", which means "fine ice on the water surface in spring". Shugozero is the cultural center of the southern Veps: there is a small museum of local history on this occasion.
On the way home, we'll stop to stretch the bones to Nudozerets forest lake. According to fishermen's stories, there is a good crucian carp here (up to 2 kg and more). The place is idyllic: silence, the surface of the lake reflects the sky. We admire and go further.
Let's stop for a moment near this important monument. It is dedicated to the feat of chauffeurs who transported people and cargo on the ice of Lake Ladoga during the blockade.
You can have dinner in the cafe "Petrovskaya meal". It is famous for its large selection of dishes and excellent interior. You can relax from the road in the backyard with a large fountain.