Where it All Starts

Culinary Journey Into the Cold North West

Northern deer by Nikolai VymorkovFederal Agency for Tourism

Russian Nordic?

The identity and the origin of the Pomors have been debated for 150 years, and  there is still no unequivocal definition of what the "Russian North'' is and which parts of modern Russian it covers.

Some say it stretches across what is now the Karelia, Vologda, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions, the Nenets Autonomous District, and the Komi Republic with its capital of Syktyvkar. 

Snow peaks by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Some of these lands are beyond the Arctic Circle, while others border on Finland and Norway. 

Polar Lights by Kirill SimakovFederal Agency for Tourism

This is how geography affects the northern Russian cuisine which is also vaguely defined. Still, a quest for "Russian Nordic'' will certainly bring you here.

People from Mora in Dalecarlia (ca 1782) by Pehr HilleströmHallwyl Museum

Ruskeala and Kizhi Wonders

Karelia is a republic in northwest Russia, on the border with Finland. Another name for this place is the land of lakes. 

This land attracts tourists with its pure air, amazing landscapes, flora and fauna, a Slavic and Finno-Ugric culture mix, and the mysteries of the sacred mountains. 

Karelia by Nikolai VymorkovFederal Agency for Tourism

The international tourist Blue Road that connects Norway Sweden, Finland and Russia passes in part through Karelia, and within the region there are dozens more popular and sure roads.

At the heart of Ruskeala Mountain Park is a former marble quarry flooded by groundwater. Local marble was used to clad St. Isaac's Cathedral and Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg. Recently, a steam retro train has been taking passengers to Ruskeala from Sortavala.


is a museum-reserve of unique carved architecture of wooden churches and buildings of Karelian, Russian and Vepsian villages. It is located on the island of the same name in the north of Lake Onega, you can only "fly" here. Along the lake on the "Comet" - the legendary Soviet hydrofoil motor ship.

Solovetsky Kremlin by Nikolai GernetFederal Agency for Tourism


The Solovetsky archipelago in the White Sea consists of several islands, solemnly harsh nature, even harsher history and a place of pilgrimage.

Its historical landmarks include the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery, the Solovetsky Kremlin, and the gloomy Sekirnaya Mountain.

Polar Lights by Kirill SimakovFederal Agency for Tourism

There are also the mysterious Zayatsky Islands, ancient stone labyrinths, and Cape Beluzhy, where you can watch white whales, albeit for a couple of weeks in August, and the Northern Light, again only in March.

Famous local foods include all sorts of Solovetsky herring - for example in the dressed herring salad with kelp - and cod and herring pies from monastery bakeries.

Kargopol by Nikolai VymorkovFederal Agency for Tourism

Kargopol and Kenozero

The ancient town of Kargopol, once the richest and most important port on Lake Onega, is the embodiment of the Russian North. 

A place that has flourished and declined but preserved its identity has an unparalleled atmosphere to experience. 

Near Kenozero by Nikolai GernetFederal Agency for Tourism

Close by lies the national park of Kenozero whose pristine landscapes hide an exceptional collection of the 18th-19th century painted "skies" or characteristic northern wooden Church ceilings that resemble suns with radiating beams.

Kenozersky Park by Eugene MazilovFederal Agency for Tourism

Little seems to have changed here in the last 300 hundred  years. Both nature and lifestyle paint the picture of an ideal North of the 18th and 19th centuries that has bizarrely grabbed hold of cellphones and motor boats.

Teriberka by Kirill SimakovFederal Agency for Tourism


The now most famous polar settlement in Russia was glorified by director Andrei Zvyagintsev, who shot the film Leviathan here (the film was released in 2014 and received the Golden Globe and other film awards).

Even though the film portrays Teriberka as a symbol of despair, it has inspired Moscow's creative classes who have been flocking to the village in recent years to turn it into a cultural capital of the Arctic.

Teriberka by Kirill SimakovFederal Agency for Tourism

A more objective reason is that Teriberka is the only destination in European Russia that can be reached by car with views of the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, the Northern Lights and other wonders of northern landscapes.

Teriberka by Kirill SimakovFederal Agency for Tourism

A ship graveyard, Yagel crisps, and fresh scallops are on the agenda as well.

Read more about culture and food of North-West in the exhibition Russian North specialities!

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Kirill Simakov, Natalia Rybalchenko, Rashid Rakhmanov, Sergey Ivanov

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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