Underground lake in Ruskeala Mountain Park, Karelia, Russia
© Konstantin Trubavin/Offset by Shutterstoc
Notes from an underground lake
The Ruskeala Mountain Park is an eerily beautiful reminder of the booming mining industry that thrived for centuries in this area of Russia near the border with Finland. Located on the site of an abandoned marble quarry, the park opened to the public in 2005. The centuries-old quarry has been flooded with groundwater since the end of World War II, although some old buildings and kilns from the mines are still intact.
Miners in this area once extracted and exported limestone, and more importantly, marble, for use in large building projects in Russia. Catherine the Great is said to have had an affinity for the white marble that came from Ruskeala and urged its use in the construction of many of the beautiful buildings in St. Petersburg during her 18th-century reign as empress. Ruskeala marble eventually ended up in famous landmarks of the city, including St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Michael's Castle, and the Marble Palace, among others. While the mines finally stopped operations in the 1990s, the park is now a popular day trip for tourists who want to learn more about the history of mining in the region.