The Republic of Karelia

Death Mountain: travellers in search of Karelian spirits

What do the ghosts of Mount Vottovaara say?

10.06.2022// Karelian Mount Vottovaara is well-known among the mystics fans as 'Death Mountain.' It is said that devices are malfunctioning on it, strange trees are growing and huge stones, sieidi, emit mysterious energy. Some enthusiasts believe that ancient Sami made mass human sacrifices on this mountain, and during the Great Patriotic War, the Nazis sent special intelligence groups in the hope of subjugating the power of the mountain to the Third Reich.

Mount Vottovaara rises to 417 m above sea level. The locals do their best to avoid its summit. Ugly trees are the only thing that grows there, and even those are scarce. Two-hundred-year-old pines never grow taller than two metres, and the birches look as if an unknown force has put a twist on them.

At the top of Vottovaara, about 1,600 stones are laid out in a chaotic order on an area of approximately 6 sq. km. Scientists assume that this is a compound of an ancient cult. In an attempt to understand the concept of the ancient architects, archaeologists drew up a plan for the compound. However, they couldn't find a clear figure composition on paper. The different age of the stones indicates that the compound may have been quite a long time in forming.

However, the most striking here is the mysterious 'stairway to the sky,' a climb consisting of 13 enormous steps carved in the rock that leads straight into the abyss. Many people believe that the stairs were created not just to worship spirits, but specifically for making human sacrifices.

Geologists drilled the bottom of the lake formed in the centre of the natural amphitheatre and took soil samples that returned interesting findings. The analysis revealed a thick layer of phosphorus formed within a limited period of time. One explanation for the 'phosphoric anomaly' is numerous acts of sacrifice resulting in a large accumulation of animal bone.

In 2011, Vottovaara was recognised as a landscape monument of regional significance. All economic activity is prohibited there, and tourists must comply with certain rules. It is forbidden to make bonfires outside special places, to litter and somehow to move huge stones, sieidi. From 15 April to 15 June, entrance to the Vottovaara protected area is prohibited, because it is the breeding time for mammals and birds.

Today tours to Vottovaara are a separate source of income for Petrozavodsk residents. To get from the capital of Karelia to the 'Death Mountain' is possible by car along the comfortable highway, but then you have to wade through the off-road for 20 difficult kilometres. Usually, tourists are taken by UAZ, there are also special jeep tours. However, it's not the place for usual Arctic dangers — Karelia is well inhabited, so you can always find people nearby.

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