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North Karelia, situated in Eastern Finland, and Lake Pielinen are featured and present in many ways in the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. In his time, Elias Lönnrot travelled three times to Viena Karjala via Pielinen and Lieksa to collect Kalevalian songs. Many stories and lore on Lönnrot’s visits to Pielinen and Lieksa have been passed to our generations.


The Lieksanjoki river flows to Lake Pielinen, and gets its water mostly from Russia behind the eastern border. The Lieksanjoki river has several rapids, 12 of which are situated in Russia, and 12 in Finland. Most of these rapids flow in Ruunaa, Lieksa. One of the three rapids mentioned in Kalevala is the Lieksanjoki river’s Pankakoski rapids, called the Kaatrakoski rapids in Kalevala. Before the dam, the water’s surge was so massive that its roar could be heard at 10 kilometres in the centre of Lieksa.


On the Kalevalian cultural excursions in Ruunaa, a Kalevalian boat trip can taken to the Russian border where Väinämöinen, a legendary hero of the Finnish mythology, receives his quests, and offers them soot pot coffee. Kalevalian white water kayaking in Ruunaa is an alternative for the boat trip. The sounds of kantele can be heard in the cabin of the Pielinen museum, the second biggest outdoor museum in Finland. The excursion ends in the Finnish national view of Koli where Jussi Makkonen, Nazig Azezian, and a rune singer perform Sibelius’ Karelia music.

Pictures of Väinämöinen and Ruunaa

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