Ruskeala marble quarries, located 30 km to the north from Sortavala, is one of the most interesting attractions of Karelia. For several centuries here on the bank of the river Tokhmayoki marble was extracted, which was used to build palaces in St. Petersburg.
Before the 18 century these lands belonged to Sweden. At Ruskeala marble was extracted in small amounts, chiefly for lime burning. After the Great Northern War, according to the Treaty of Nystad signed in 1721, the town of Sortavala was given to Russia, but the industrial extraction of marble began only under Catherine II in 1767.
Ruskeala marble was highly estimated by the architects of St. Petersburg and was used to finish many buildings. The most famous Petersburg buildings, which was finished by the Ruskeala marble, are St. Michael Castle, Marble Palace and St. Isaac Cathedral. Also, it was used during the building of the Tsarskoye Selo palace and Pavlovsk palace.
For several centuries there were opened three quarries at Ruskeala, with one of them being fairly large: 450 m long, 60-100 m wide, and 30-50 m deep. In 1830 the extraction of marble was stopped at the Ruskeala quarries, and it fell into ruin.
Before the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 the Ruskeala quarries were flooded and most of the tunnels and mines were submerged under water. So the quarries or canyon acquired its present appearance. Within the canyon there was formed a lake with azure water, while the walls are of grayish-white color.
Upon coming to the Ruskeala marble quarries, you should stand in a queue at the boat station and go for a walk on the bank. In the summer season, especially when big excursion buses come here, it may be difficult to rent a boat and it will be very interesting to see the canyon from the water. And having secured a boat you may go for a walk.
Around the Ruskeala canyon there was laid a walking path making it possible to view the canyon from different points. You may descend to the bottom of the tunnels, as well as rope swing along the entire canyon.