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    Petrozavodsk

The city of Petrozavodsk begins with foundation of a plant in Karelia on the banks of river Lososinka, since territories, surrounding the Onezhskoe Lake, were famous for copper and iron deposits. At that time the plant is necessary for providing metal for cannons and other military equipment Russian Army takes part in the Northern War. Mighty forests give wood for constructions and carbonization of wood, and two lakes are perfect energy sources for future plant.

The plant is founded in August 1703. Thick earth walls surround the factory and protect it from possible Swedish invasions. Building process develops very fast in the end of 1703 new plant gives first large test cannon. In the following year four furnaces reach their full productive capacity, soon making Peters plant the largest enterprise in Russia. Each year the plant produces hundreds of cannons, tens of thousands of bayonet rifles, three thousand swords and other military equipment. Peter the Great is a frequent guest at his plant here the tsar owns a two-storey wooden palace, surrounded by a beautiful garden with a Peter and Pauls church in it. A light on the churchs tower serves as a beacon for ships, sailing nearby at night.

A settlement, later known as Petrovskaya Sloboda, appears near the plant. First dwellers of the settlement are craftsmen, who move here from Tula and the Urals for organizing weapon manufacturing, and peasants from various Russian regions. Demand for workers grows, and in 1717 the settlement hosts about three thousand people several hundreds of houses, two churches, superintendents house, administrative building, armory and prison make the territories suitable for life. The village also has a hospital and a guest house with customs department, 16 state shops, about thirty eateries and many other buildings. The plant offers its employers a possibility to get education in a school of mining, where students can learn arithmetic, geography, drawing, artillery and engineering.

In 1721 Russian troops win the Northern War, and Russian borders move to Finland. The country needs no more cannons and bullets. Many skilled workers leave the plant and move to Yekaterinburg, and the plant switches to production of tin, nails, fountain pipes, anchors and wire for numerous building sites of Saint Petersburg and the Baltic Navy. In 1734 the Petrovsky plant is officially closed, and life in the neighboring village stops for many years. When Russia starts war against Turkey, demand for different types of weapon boosts again. The Empresss order, signed in 1772, launches construction works, and in May 1773 the plant is founded again. Following June is notable for the first cannon tests. Soon the Petrovsky plant becomes the leading Russian enterprise in technical equipment, technology and production quality.

After the plant construction is finished, the settlement gains the status of the town the Empress Ekaterina II signs an appropriate order on March 21, 1777. Regional authorities beg the Empress to allow calling the plant Petrovsky, however, great Empress refuses and wants it to be called Alexandrovsky. In 19th century the Alexandrovsky plant is the most important provider of military equipment for the Russian army and navy in Russia. Ship caravans deliver cannons and bullets to Saint Petersburg, Kronshtadt, and Baltic states. More weapons travel to Volga and are delivered to the Black Sea. Talents of Petrozavodsk produce such rare item as vapour machines and complex tools. They created machines for making golden coins. Other interesting products are ornamental castings.

In 1784 the city of Petrozavodsk becomes the centre of Olonetsky region. However, the city is far from flourishing. Population hardly reaches three thousand people, and 400 wooden houses look more like countryside, rather than a town. Only six town houses are made of stone. Population feeds by fishing, agriculture, simple crafts and trades.

Petrozavodsk develops together with the Alexandrovsky plant, and new stone houses for officials and mining engineers appear on higher bank of river Lososinka in the middle of 19th century. Centre of trades moves to the stone guest house, built on the Kruglaya (Round) Square, where houses of rich citizens, noblemen and merchants are also erected. Plant workers dwell in dormitories on the Zavodskaya (Plant) Square, and those, who boasted good behaviour, are allowed to build a wooden house in a special district of Petrozavodsk Such houses look all the same wooden, one-storey buildings with two windows and a small garden for keeping goats and poultry. The forest starts behind the fence till the end of 19th century. Citizens often go to the forest to collect mushrooms and berries, and sometimes shoot game.

Passenger ship line connects Petrozavodsk and Saint Petersburg in 1860, and telegraphy appears in the city in 1870. Telephone station with 50 numbers is built in Petrozavodsk in the beginning of 20th century, and railroad pierces the city in 1916, going northwards to Murmansk.

In 20th century Petrozavodsk is the cultural centre of the region. The city hosts various educational institutions separate schools for men and women, religious school, plant school, crafts school, school of medicine and private institutions. Public library starts its enlightenment activities in 1860. Regional newspaper is born in 1838 and keeps local population informed about accidents, public events and housekeeping. Citizens take part in amateur theatre plays and concerts.

During reign of communists Petrozavodsk becomes an exile site for those arrested for political reasons. World War II brings changes, and Germans occupy the city and rename it. Fights for city release are cruel, and Petrozavodsk is nearly destroyed during them. After the war ends, the city is rebuilt and becomes a beautiful capital of the Republic of Karelia.

Today Petrozavodsk is a cultural, tourist, science and industrial centre of the region. Moreover, it is the largest city in Karelia. The city hosts many educational, science and research institutions, as well as several theatres, Music Hall, museums and exhibitions.

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Petrozavodsk
  (Republic of Karelia)

Cities of the region

    Kizhi Island
    Belomorsk
    Kem
    Kostomuksha
    Segezha
    Sortavala
    Belomorsk
    Olonets
    Kondopoga

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