National Parks

National Park "Russian North"

View of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery

Ferapontov Monastery in winter

Marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza)

Clematis (Atragene sibirica)

Lady's slipper orchid

The National Park "Russky Sever" ("Russian North") was established on March 20, 1992 in the Kirillov District, Vologda Oblast. Here one can step back in time to an era of tranquillity. It is situated on the watershed of the White, Baltic and Caspian basins. The Park is famous for its beautifully combined natural and cultural landscapes, which let us trace the history of economic and cultural assimilation of the Russian North. One should mention Mariinskaya and Severo Dvinskaya water transport systems with their canals and sluices as well as such architectural, historical and cultural monuments of the global importance as Kirillo-Belozersky, Ferapontov and Goritsy Monasteries.

The Goritsy Convent is one of the remarkable monasteries situated near Kirillov. It is 7 km off the city on the bank of the Sheksna river at the foot of the Maura hill. A magnificent view opens up from the hill in summer season - dark-green foliage of forests, green meadows and fields and shiny surface of lakes scattered throughout the place. The Goritsy Monastery being situated in a remote district has become the place of imprisonment for spouses and relatives of the noble that fell into disgrace. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery could be seen in the distance.

The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery stands on the bank of Siverskoye lake. It was founded in 1397 as Moscow's outpost on the trading routes in the North and astounds everybody by the enormous size of its fortified walls and towers. Laid out and built in the traditions of early Russian architecture, the monuments are grouped in a harmonious ensemble.

The Ferapontov Monastery has won an international renown owing to artistic work of exceptional value - some frescoes belonging to the brush of Dionisius, the genius of medieval Russian art. His cycle of frescoes devoted to the Virgin remains a unique monument of medieval painting having national as well as European importance.

The general area of the park is 166,4 thousand hectares. The well-known Severodvinsk water system is located there. It is the monument to engineering idea, including 5 canals and 7 sluices. The territory of the National Park contains scenic landscapes, magnificent architecture and monuments. Each landscape zone (all in all there are 5 of them) is open for the visitors and can be used by the locals.

The national park was developed in the mesolithic epoch. One of the first settlements in the Russian North dates back to 5000 B.C. The settling continued in the late Stone Age. There are 20 monuments dating from that period within the territory of the Park. All the historic epochs remained their traces: over 90 archaeological monuments are restored to their original appearance. Many of them are located in close unity with the spectacular beauty of the nature and historic environment.

Three morainal hills - Maura Mountain, Tsipina Mountain and Sandyreva Mountain (50-80 metres high) - are landscape memorials with beautiful views on environs.

There are two wildlife reserves in the Park - Sokolsky and Shalgo-Bodunovsky forests making a fascinating atmosphere for a journey through the soaring trees (the itinerary is being created). They offer acres of woods and forestland. The salubrious air of the pine forest is known to everyboby and attracts visitors. The reserves contain an abundance of wilderness, wildlife and beauty. They abound with rare varieties of plant life. One will no doubt spot lady's slipper orchid, lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), pasque flower (Pulsatilla patens) and Rubus humulifolius C.A. Mey. Set aside as wildlife preserves there are many species of birds there. The magnetism of this unique area for birdlife rests on its remoteness and abundant food resources. It is osprey or fish eagle (Pandion haliaetus) that is the main attraction. Interestingly enough, ospreys live on fish. They can dive deep to secure piscine prey. Ospreys breed in conifers near lakes, rivers and the coast and can be found on all the continents except South America. The endangered species are included into the Red List. If ospreys breed near a lake it implies that the lake is rich in fish and the water is fresh and clean in it.

The scientists and researchers note that the flora in this part of the Russian North strikes by its diversity, a large amount of plants which are dying and becoming extinct in Russia and Europe. Quite remarkable is the abundance of orchids on the territory of the National Park - about 20 species. They are characterized by the big size, bright and various colouring of flowers. Interestingly enough, such plants of tropical zone as lady's slipper orchid, wasp orchid, marsh orchid and other species grow in the North of Russia.

The researchers also mention that the plantlife ranges from steppe and forest-steppe to arctic and Siberian species. Such diverse flora of the region can be explained by a number of reasons: the location, suitable relief and fertile soil.

Arborescent junipers also grow in the National Park "Russian North". The diameter of some species is up to 20 sm.

Seven finely-crafted travel itineraries are arranged in the Park. At present the experts are creating innovative itineraries - water and cross country skiing travels on Lake Vozhe, Borodaevskoye Lake, the Slavyanka and Itkla Rivers.

The National Park "Russian North" offers a unique opportunity to have a rest in an ecologically-friendly region, discover out-of-the-way places and feel the pure pleasures of the great outdoors. The peculiarity of the Park consists in the vicinity of the wildlife which is unique in its beauty, with the ancient monuments of history and architecture.