Pearl of Karelia

Veshkelitsa is an old, truly Karelian village first mentioned in the 15 th century.It is situated upon seven picturesque hills surrounded by twelve small lakes. The lakes include Kirikjoyarvi, Matkayarvi, Koverayarvi, Porosyarvi, Nikolskoye, and more. Many visitors call Veshkelitsa the Karelian Venice since it is possible to get from one farmstead to another by boat. One of the largest lakes in Karelia, Lake Syamozero, is located 12 km from Veshkelitsa. To the same distance southwest of the village flows one of the largest rivers of Karelia, the Shuya River. The advantageous geographical location of the village, its distinctive character, cultural heritage, and architectural traditions attract tourists from all over Russia, the nearest coastal region, and from neighbouring Finland. Only about 600 people live in the village. 65% of them are indigenous inhabitants who speak Karelian, so this language is taught in the local school.

There are several versions of the story telling how the village received its name. One of these versions is based on the fact that in Ancient Rus, the word ‘veksha’ meant ‘squirrel, ’ but ‘veksha’ was also the smallest monetary unit of Ancient Rus. In the 14 th to 16 th centuries, Karelians paid tribute in squirrel furs to Novgorod the Great, and later to the Russian state. Pogosts served as points of gathering this tribute and sending it off. This shows that Veshkelitsa was an administrative and church centre for all the surrounding villages.

The other version claims that the name ‘Veshkelitsa’ is connected to ‘veshki, ’ markers set along the sleigh route across the lakes alongside which the Karelians built their villages. The sleigh route was shown on historic maps and led across both dry land and lakes. Thus, the road markers were absolutely necessary.

Since olden times, Livvi-Karelians have lived in Veshkelitsa on many farmsteads; therefore, all the place names here are in Karelian. There are about two hundred such names that are connected with the settlements, lakes and their shores, marshes, streams, and former and current agricultural lands. Each name carries the original historical and geographical information about the place it is attached to and also points to the particular use this place had for the local people.

The inhabitants of Veshkelitsa hold their land dear.It is their ‘Small Native Country. ’ Ordinary, hospitable people live here. They will happily meet you, take you in as precious guests, and even teach you how to bake fish pies and make blueberry drink!

The beauty of this place is known far beyond the borders of the Republic, since both children and adults promote their village in various contests and competitions. In 2013, Veshkelitsa participated in a competition, The Capital of Finno-Ugric World, and made it into the super final.

Welcome to Veshkelitsa!