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Reference on historical and cultural features of Kalevala region

Ethnic flavour of Kalevala region creates its special image in the Republic of Karelia and beyond. It was on this soil where in the XIX century the outstanding Finnish specialist in folklore Elias Lönnrot has recorded many runes, included in the world-wide-famous Karelia-Finnish epos of Kalevala. Kalevala is a unique epos which, alongside with bylinas, has national roots and unites Russia and Finland.

Natural complex of the region is a significant tourist resource. As well as for Karelia as a whole, it is characterised with abundance of reservoirs featured for their ecological cleanness, aesthetic beauty of lake- and river-landscapes. The rivers are mainly tumultuous, full of rapids. Picturesque falls of Kumio-Porog and Käunas, Häm rapids are famous. Natural dominant of ther region are Kujto lakes stretching bowingly 140 km in latitude. On the top of the arch on the Middle Kuito lake the settlement of Kalevala is located. Lakes of tectonic origin have significant depths and very picturesque coastal landscapes. Kalevala is the land of pine woods with rich mushroom and berry presereves. 12 kinds of fish are found in pools of lakes, most valuable of which are local population of salmon, whitefish, cisco, and grayling.

More than sixty percent of territory of Kalevala region are covered with woods which average age makes more than 100 years. Pine forests dominate in the wood cover, making more than 85% of all wood-covered area. Most valuable are the wood complexes located in territory of planned Kalevala natural park. It is the greatest on size and the most western in Europe well-preserved protogenic pine taiga woodland with many trees aging over 400-450 years. The bogs occupying more than 30% of territory of the region, have a significant set of rare and unique kinds of plants in their floristic arsenal and represent a great ecological, nature protecting and scientific value that assumes their preservation in their in a state of nature and variety. Ypäuzhsho, the largest bog if Karelia, which has stretched on 23 km in the Lower Kepa is located in territory of the region.

Historical and Cultural Potential

Kalevala region has rich history. Ukhta region was founded in 1927, in 1935 is renamed in Kalevala. Center of the was the village of Ukhta. From 1963 to 1966 territory of the region was a part of Kem industrial region. In 1963 the village of Ukhta was renamed into the settlement of Kalevala. In 1992 the region was appropriated the status of national area. Territory of the north of Karelia where there the settlement of Kalevala is located, has a long history of colonization. Results of archeologic researches allow to draw a conclusion on existence of some sites here. Among the first written records of settlements near Kuito lake in Panozero churchyard there is an extract from a separate book of Kem volost which remained in Certificates of Solovetsky monastery, dated years 1552/53. In 1846 Ukhta parish was formed through separating several villages from Voknavolotsk and Panozero parishes. It included villages of Yvalaksha, Alozero, Kentozero, Regozero, Ukhta, Chiksha, Kurmalakshi, etc.

Since 1918 territory of the region was a few times attacked by the White Finnish gangs. Organization of Karelian Labour Commune in 1920 and measures undertaken by the central authority have led to scouring the White Finns in the very beginning of 1922. Results of these years for Ukhta were sad - of 350 houses there remained only habitable 40. During this period Ukhta became the center of the district formed of 7 former volosts with the population over 11 thousand people. In the beginning of the 1930s there has been forunded The New Life collective farm. At the same time Ukhta logging enterprise is created. From among other life changes in the countryside it is necessary to note construction of Ukhta hydroelectric power station. Ukhta logging division has been founded. Construction of 180 km of the road from Kem to Ukhta was of great significance for the economy development. In 1941 Kalevala region has once again found itself at the crossroads of wars. The first attack of the enemy was faced by frontier guards. The enemy was stopped on the Kis-Kis boundary. Untill September, 1944 the front line in territory of the region has not actually changed. Partisan movement developed from first days of war. The Battle Standard partisan group was formed, later it was united with The Red Partisan group. At various times in territory of the region there operated The Battle Cry, The Red Banner, and The Komsomol member of Karelia named after Chapayev partisan groups. In September of 1944 the territory of area has been liberated. In 1959 there appeared a new Juškozersky logging enterprise. On the basis of collective farms Ukhtinsky state farm has been founded (1960) producing meat-and-milk products and potato breeding. In 1965 the government decree on liquidation of "unpromising" villages was carried out in the region. As a result, the region has lost many of them which were of historical value as traditional places of habitation of national epos and traditions. In 1964 the West-Karelian railway became operational, the first passenger train from the settlement of Juškozero departured. These years construction of Juškozero hydroelectric power station being a part of the Cascade of hydroelectric power stations on Kem river begins. It has been started up in 1980. On the land of Kalevala there has been discovered a large deposit of iron ores. On the proven territory there has been been constructed Kostomuksha ore-dressing and processing enterprise and a settlement. In April of 1983 the settlement of Kostomuksha was transformed into the town subordinate to the republic.

Quite often people say: those who have not been to Kalevala, have not seen Karelia. The land of Kalevala is unique and special. Almost all epic songs of which Kalevala consists were recorded in villages of the region. Lönnrot has called this magic land "the best and richest cradle of runes". Inhabitants of the region remember and treasure memory of storytellers, their fellow countrymen: rune-singers of the Perttunens, Maria Mikheyeva, Jouki Hämäläinen, M.Hoteyeva. Many famous Karelian writers and artists originated in Kalevala and its region or have started their creative activity there - N.Jaakkola, J.Rugoev, A.Timonen, P.Perttu, O.Stepanov, N.Laine, K.Rautio and M.Pirhonen.

Besides, this region is notable for ethnocultural (including language) and economic uniqueness. In rune-singers' settlements of Juškozero, Voinitsa, Kepa, Luusalmi, Kuusiniemi, Ukhta (Kalevala) there remained plenty of houses, barns, baths and other constructions of Karelian type, as well as many memorable places related to history of creation of the epos of Kalevala. Besides, in this territory there are archeologic monuments of different epochs (eight deposits of the Mesolithic epoch on the coast of Sudnozero lake - the VIIth millenium B.C.), historical and memorable places (the cemetery of Kalmosaari where ashes of the famous Karelian rune-singer Arkhippa Pertunen is buried), terrain of attack near the Kis-Kis lake, etc., kept in a protogenic condition.

Cultural traditions of the past proceed until now. In Kalevala region there are local history museum and museum of rune-singers. It has become a tradition to celebrate summer holidays and festivals in each settlement. Annual festivals of Ukhta Karelians, festive gathering of young people in Luusalmi, festival in the village of Voinitsa draw much attention. Literature festival is held annually in the village of Haikolä on the native land of Ortjo Stepanov, the national writer of Karelia. For more than forty years Kalevala folk theatre has been staging performances in Russian and Finnish languages.

The main sights of the region are: divisional cemetery; homes of narrators of folk tales; the Communal Grave of Rural Activists, Soviet Soldiers and Partisans; monument on the boundary of Kis-Kis where the Germans' attack was ceased in 1941. A number of buildings in the settlement of Kalevala are of historical and architectural interest, like the former house of engineer Mobergg, nowadays district military registration and enlistment office is situated there; apartment houses built in 1930-1950; a group of apartment houses built at the beginning of the XXth century along the Selslaya street.

The most memorable and significant monument of history of Kalevala land is Lönnrot 's pine tree. The tree under the which protection runes of immortal creation of Karelian and Finnish peoples were recorded became a relic of this region.

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Created: August 27, 2002. Last updated: December 24, 2008.
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