The Ladoga – is the largest fresh lake in Europe. Originally it was called Neva and Nevo. But because of this name characterized the main water-way of Saint Petersburg, the decision to rename it in the Ladoga was taken. Such large rivers as Svir, Vuoksa, Volkhov and many small rivers flows into Ladoga Lake. The only river, which flows out the Ladoga is the Neva.
The shores of the lake are various. On the north they are high, rocky and steep. These north shores were served the output place of bricks and decorative stones. There are a lot of islands on the Ladoga, most part of them are placed near north shores. At the middle part of the lake are two archipelagos of the island – Balaam and Mantsisary.
The Ladoga is navigable since ancient times. In IX – XII cent. water trade route passed through it. More than 60 species of fishes dwells at this lake, thirty of them has a trade meaning.
The most attracted reservoir shore for tourist is the north shore, where the town with Scandinavian name Sortavala, founded by Swedes in 12 century in the place of junction of two rivers the Tohmaioky and Helyulaioky and named first Sardovalla. In the course of the Northern war of 18 century the town was captured by Russians and renamed into Serdobol, which in 1783 according to the decree of Catherine II became the chief town of Viborgsky uyezd. However in 1811 it became the part of Finnish Grand Duchy and only in 1917 after the declaration of independence of Finland it was returned to Russia again and renamed into Sortavala.
The vicinities of Sortavala are rich in minerals. Here in Pitkaranta town in 1830 the first copper mine was discovered, then tin ore was discovered, and in 19 century several metallurgical works, processing also iron ore, started working. Here in German island in 12 km from Sortavala rare red granite, famous in the world as “Balaamsky granite”, which is used in incrustation of buildings of Saint Petersburg and Finnish towns, is extracted. The tourists, coming here, can see other sights , including The memorial of Glory in the form of the huge cross, Lutheran church, visit the Museum of local lore or admire the beauty of the waterfall in the Koiriniioky river, where the relic Murraya pine-trees, raised in 20-s of last century in Impilahtinsky forestry, were planted.
Lahdenpohiya town is panoramic: first, from it one can see the beauty of the Ladoga, if having climbed up the Old Man mountain. Second, The local islands, beaches, skerries are interest in its variety. Here the manor of Rauhala – the wonderful monument of architecture of 19 century – is located and granite, which, by the way, was used for making the monument to Katherine the Great in St. Petersburg, is extracted. The ships, which are bound for the Balaam Islands, famous in the world for it and monasteries and cells, leave Lahdenpohiya.
The nature of Balaam can be called exotic: high pines and firs rise above the steep rocks, which tower above water to the height of tens meters. The lots, throughout covered with stones and sand beaches are found. On the whole, landscapes of the medieval history! By the way, in this place there is another wonder – white nights, here they are the longest. For example, the shortest lasts 3 hours 45 minutes. The average temperature of July is + 17C, but sometimes it reaches + 30C: heating of numerous rocks by the sun affects. In principle, farness of this place from the civilization, and also the wild and quiet nature favoured building of the cells (the form of monk’s life, the essence of which consists in the fact that several coenobites take the stern regulations of religion and live, secluding themselves in a distant place) and the monastery. The main architectural monument is the Balaam monastery, the ensemble of which includes the stone chapel, built in 1896, the coach-stable house, the chapels of Annunciation and in the name of the icon of the Blessed Virgin’s Sign, the stele of polished black stone with the regal persons’ names, the Spasko-Preobrazhensky cathedral, the Protection chapel, the church of saint fathers and two churchyards – old monastic and Father Superior’s.
The name “Balaam” is originated from the Finnish language and is translated as “high, mountain land”. This word seemed to be consonant to the biblical prophet’s name, and called this place Balaam. Cells are located in several kilometers from the monastic estate. They are 7 and they are located in Skitsky and Nikolsky Islands: the Nicholas cell (in the distance of 1,5 km in Nicholsky Island), the Cell of All Saints (3 km from Balaam), Smolensky (2,5 km), Gefsimansky (5 km), Voskresensky (6.5 km), the cell of John the Baptist (5 km), the cell of Alexander Svirsky ( in the distance of 8.5 km from the monastic estate).