Ruskeala is a stunningly beautiful place in Russian North near the Russian-Finnish border. 

Ruskeala owes its beauty not only to the unique northern nature but also to human involvement. There is a famous marble canyon that has been supplying marble to large construction in Saint Petersburg for several centuries.

Ruskeala Marble Canyon 

Ruskeala was controlled by Russia, Sweden and Finland at various times. In the second half of the 17th century the Swedes began to extract marble for producing lime.

After Saint Petersburg was founded and became a new Russian capital, the Russians started large construction there.

When Catherine II ascended to the Russian throne, Ruskeala was recaptured by Russia. Then Saint Petersburg turned into a massive construction site. Soon Ruskeala became a major supplier of amazing varicolored marble for the northern Russian capital and other towns.

The best-known building faced with the Ruskeala marble is St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

While quarrying marble, people drilled narrow holes, filled them with powder and then exploded. In winter smooth marble blocks were loaded onto sledges and brought to the river. Once the shipping season started, these blocks were embarked on ships and sent to Saint Petersburg.

There were some breaks in the marble extraction process, but all in all the quarries survived to the very end of the 20th century. The Ruskeala marble was used in building the two metro stations “Primorskaya” and “Ladozhskaya” in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg).

1 Ruskeala Marble Canyon

Ruskeala Marble Canyon

2 Ruskeala Marble Canyon

Ruskeala Marble Canyon

3 Ruskeala Marble Canyon

Ruskeala Marble Canyon

4 Ruskeala Marble Canyon

Ruskeala Marble Canyon

Due to extensive marble extraction large Marble Canyon, numerous mines and adits were formed. With Marble Canyon growing bigger, some underground adits were encountered, but there are still many manmade caves and underground grottos.

Things to see

Ruskeala Mountain Park has been recently opened in the vicinity of Ruskeala Marble Canyon.

The park was built to protect this unique natural and industrial monument of Russia.

Ruskeala Marble Canyon is 100 m (328 ft) high, with its width being 460 m (1509 ft). The height of the canyon walls reaches 50 m (164 ft). Now the canyon is filled with water from underground springs, and it is possible to see its artificial bottom to a depth of 18 m (59 ft).

In winter Ruskeala Marble Canyon is illuminated with multicolored lights (during summer the season of “white nights” starts in Ruskeala) which makes this scene truly unique and unforgettable!

You can go down to the bottom of Ruskeala Marble Canyon from its upper walls using a strained rope. That way you will quickly get to the surface of the lake located inside the canyon!

Ruskeala pit is another must-seen place in the mountain park that was formed at the site of an exploded mine about 50 years ago.

In some areas of grottos ice remains even during summer, and in winter the whole bottom of the pit gets covered with ice. The administration of the park offers its visitors to go skating right on the bottom of Ruskeala pit!

Take an online tour along Ruskeala pit.

You can walk around Ruskeala Marble Canyon, rent a boat, go on a speleological journey (with a professional guide!), jump off a cliff (with a belay), cross the canyon using an extreme route built among trees.

In summer those who want to discover the secrets of flooded adits can go diving and in winter they can go Husky sledding.

The Ruskeala Waterfalls 

Close to Ruskeala Marble Canyon there are three small but exceptionally picturesque waterfalls on the Tohmajoki River. Its water is chalybeate and has a reddish tinge.

7 Ruskeala Waterfalls

The Ruskeala Waterfalls 

8 Ruskeala Waterfalls

The Ruskeala Waterfalls 

12 Ruskeala Waterfalls

The Ruskeala Waterfalls 

14 Ruskeala Waterfalls

The Ruskeala Waterfalls 

How to get there

You can get to Ruskeala by car from Saint Petersburg (4-5 hours) or Petrozavodsk (3-5 hours). If you happen to be in Finland, you can also visit Ruskeala as it is just 20 km (12 mi) away from the Finnish-Russian border (however, be sure to obtain a visa).

All those who are going to Ruskeala Marble Canyon should consider visiting Valaam.

All the photos were taken by Anton Cherniak.

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