Tuesday, 5 December 2017

RUSSIA: Vyborg A City In Leningrad Oblast

Vyborg is a city in Leningrad Oblast, Russia. Located near the Finnish border, it was in fact Finland's second-largest city until World War II, when it was handed to the Soviets as war reparations.

Vyborg is a town in, and the administrative center of, Vyborgsky District in Leningrad Oblast, Russia. It lies on the Karelian Isthmus near the head of the Vyborg Bay, 130 km (81 miles) to the northwest of St. Petersburg and 38 km (24 miles) south of Russia's border with Finland, where the Saimaa Canal enters the Gulf of Finland.

Located in the boundary zone between the East Slavic/Russian and Finnish worlds, the town has changed hands several times in history, most recently in 1944 when the Soviet Union captured it from Finland during World War II.

The city hosts the Russian end of the 1,222 km (759 mi) Nord Stream gas pipeline, laid in 2011 and operated by a consortium led by Russia's Gazprom state hydrocarbons enterprise to pump 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year under the Baltic to Greifswald, Germany.

The area where Vyborg is located used to be a trading center on the Vuoksi River's western branch, which has dried up. The region was inhabited by the Karelians, a Balto-Finnic tribe which gradually came under the domination of Novgorod and Sweden.

According to archeological digs and research, on the site of Vyborg there were a Karelian trading post in the 10th century and it belonged to the same Finnish cultural area with western Finland from Viking Age onwards.

It`s been claimed that Vyborg appeared in the 11th–12th centuries as a mixed Karelian-Russian settlement, although there isn't archeological proof of any East Slavic settlement of that time in the area and it isn't mentioned in any earliest historical documents, such as Novgorod First Chronicle or Primary Chronicle.

Settlement in the area of Vyborg is generally regarded to date from 13th century onwards when Hanseatic traders started to travel to Novgorod.

The Viborg Castle was founded during the so-called Third Swedish Crusade in 1293 by marsk Torkel Knutsson on the site of older Karelian fort which was burned. The castle was fought over for decades between Sweden and the Novgorod Republic.

By the Treaty of Nöteborg in 1323 between the Republic of Novgorod and Sweden, Vyborg was finally recognized as a part of Sweden. The town's trade privileges were chartered by the Pan-Scandinavian King Eric of Pomerania in 1403.

It withstood a prolonged siege by Daniil Shchenya during the Russo–Swedish War of 1496–1497.

Under Swedish rule, Vyborg was closely associated with the noble family of Baat, originally from Smaland. The late-medieval commanders and fief holders of Vyborg were descended from or married to the Baat family.

In practice, though not having this as their formal title, they functioned as Margraves, had feudal privileges, and kept all the crown's incomes from the fief to use for the defense of the realm's eastern border.

Vyborg remained in Swedish hands until its capture in 1710 after the Siege of Vyborg by Tsar Peter the Great in the Great Northern War. In the course of Peter's second administrative reform, Vyborg became the seat of Vyborg Province of St. Petersburg Governorate.

The 1721 Treaty of Nystad, which concluded the war with Sweden, finalized the transfer of the town and a part of Old Finland to Russia.

In 1744, Vyborg became the seat of Vyborg Governorate. In 1783, the governorate was transformed into Vyborg Viceroyalty, then in 1801 back into Vyborg Governorate.In 1802, Vyborg Governorate was renamed Finland Governorate.

One of the largest naval battles in history, the Battle of Vyborg Bay, was fought off the shore of the Vyborg Bay on July 4, 1790.

After the rest of Finland was ceded to Russia in 1809, Emperor Alexander I incorporated the town and the governorate into the newly created Grand Duchy of Finland in 1811.

The town developed as the center of administration and trade for the eastern part of Finland. The inauguration of the Saimaa Canal in 1856 benefited the local economy as it opened the vast waterways of Eastern Finland to the sea.

Vyborg was never a major industrial center and lacked large production facilities, but due to its location it served as a focal point of transports of all industries on the Karelian Isthmus, Ladoga Karelia, and southeastern Finland.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the fall of the Russian Empire, Finland declared itself independent. During the Finnish Civil War, Vyborg was in the hands of the Finnish Red Guards until it was captured by the White Guard on the Battle of Vyborg, April 29, 1918.

In April–May 1918, 360–420 civilians, mainly Russian men are murdered by White Guards during the Vyborg massacre.

In the inter-war decades, the town, Viipuri, was the second biggest town in Finland and the seat of Viipuri Province. In 1939, Vyborg had some 80,000 inhabitants, including sizable minorities of Swedes, Germans, Russians, Gypsies, Tatars, and Jews.

During this time, Alvar Aalto built the Vyborg Library—a masterpiece of modern architecture.

During the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939–1940, over seventy thousand people were evacuated from Vyborg to western Finland.

The Winter War was concluded by the Moscow Peace Treaty, which stipulated the transfer of Vyborg and the whole Karelian Isthmus—emptied of their residents—to Soviet control, where it was incorporated into the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic on March 31, 1940.

As the town was still held by the Finns, the remaining Finnish population, some ten thousand people, had to be evacuated in haste before the handover. Thus, practically the whole population of Finnish Vyborg was resettled elsewhere in Finland.

The town became the administrative center of Vyborgsky District.

The evacuees from Finnish Karelia came to be a vociferous political force and their wish to return to their homes was an important motive when Finland sought support from Nazi Germany against the Soviet threat.

As a result, Finland and Nazi Germany fought on the same side in the Continuation War.

On August 29, 1941, Vyborg was captured by Finnish troops. At first, the Finnish Army did not allow civilians into the town. Of the 6,287 buildings, 3,807 had been destroyed.

The first civilians started to arrive at the end of September and by the end of the year Vyborg had a population of about 9,700. In December 1941, the Government of Finland formally annexed the town along with the other areas lost in the Moscow Peace Treaty.

However, this annexation was not recognized by any foreign state, not even Finlands co-belligerent, Germany. By 1942, it had risen to 16,000.

About 70% of the evacuees from Finnish Karelia returned after the re-conquest to rebuild their looted homes, but were again evacuated after the Red Army's Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, timed to coincide with the Battle of Normandy.

By the time of the Soviet offensive, the town had a population of nearly 28,000. The town was evacuated by June 19 and the defense of Vyborg was entrusted to the 20th Brigade.

The town fell to the Red Army on June 20, 1944, but the Finns managed to halt the Soviet offensive at the Battle of Tali-Ihantala—the largest battle fought by any of the Nordic countries—in Viipuri rural municipality which surrounded the town. The town was seriously damaged.

In the subsequent Moscow Armistice of September 19, 1944, Finland returned to the borders set by the Moscow Peace Treaty and ceded more land than the treaty originally demanded. In the 1947 Paris Peace treaties, Finland relinquished all claims to Viipuri/Vyborg.

After the Winter War, Leningrad Oblast wanted to incorporate the area of Vyborg, but it took until November 1944 for it to be finally transferred from the Karelo-Finnish SSR. During the Soviet era, the town was settled by people from all over the Soviet Union.

The naval air bases of Pribilovo and Veshchevo were built nearby.

Within the framework of administrative divisions, Vyborg serves as the administrative center of Vyborgsky District. As an administrative division, it is incorporated within Vyborgsky District as Vyborgskoye Settlement Municipal Formation.

As a municipal division, Vyborgoye Settlement Municipal Formation is incorporated within Vyborgy Municipal District as Vyborgoye Urban Settlement.

Similar to many other areas along the Baltic Sea, Vyborg has a humid continental climate with large temperature differences between summer and winter but too mild to be classified subarctic with five months above 10 °C (50 °F) in mean temperature.

Winter temperatures are being somewhat moderated by maritime effects compared to Russian cities further inland even on more southerly latitudes, but still cold enough to be comparable to areas much further north that are nearer the Gulf Stream.

Vyborg continues to be an important industrial producer of paper. Tourism is increasingly important, and the Russian film festival Window to Europe takes place in the town each year.

An HVDC back-to-back facility for the exchange of electricity between the Russian and Finnish power grids was completed near Vyborg in 1982.

It consists of three bipolar HVDC back-to-back schemes with an operating voltage of 85 kV and a maximum transmission rate of 355 MW, so that the entire maximum transmission rate amounts to 1,420 MW.

Vyborg's most prominent landmark is its Swedish-built castle, started in the 13th century and extensively reconstructed in 1891–1894. The Round Tower and the Rathaus Tower date from the mid-16th century and are parts of the Medieval Vyborg town wall.

The Viipuri Library by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and the Hermitage-Vyborg Center are a reference point in the history of modern architecture.

There are also Russian fortifications of Annenkrone, completed by 1740, as well as the monuments to Peter the Great (1910) and Torkel Knutsson.

Tourists can also visit the house where the founder of the Soviet state Vladimir Lenin prepared the Bolshevik revolution during his stay in Viipuri from September 24 to October 7, 1917.

Sprawling along the heights adjacent to the Gulf of Finland is Mon Repos, one of the most spacious English landscape gardens in Eastern Europe. The garden was laid out on behest of its owner, Baron Ludwig Heinrich von Nikolay, at the turn of the 19th century.

Most of its structures were designed by the architect Giuseppe Antonio Martinelli. Previously, the estate belonged to the future king Frederick I who was Maria Fyodorovna's brother, who called it Charlottendahl in honor of his second wife.

Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin lived in the town for a period between the February Revolution and October Revolution of 1917. Finnish Nobel Peace Prize laureate, politician, the tenth President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari was born in Viipuri in 1937.

Cyclist Viatcheslav Ekimov and Russia's first Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov were born in the town. Finnish soldier Lauri Törni, who received the Mannerheim Cross for his service during the Winter War, was born here, and later served in the Finnish, German, and United States armies.

Lydia Sesemann, the first woman from Finland to obtain a doctoral degree, was also born in Vyborg.

Vyborg is good day trip destination from St. Petersburg, or as a stopover on the Helsinki-St. Petersburg train line.

The major international trains to Helsinki stop in Vyborg, although they are relatively expensive. Eg. since late 2010, the high-speed Allegro train travels between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, stopping in Vyborg.

International coach lines connect Vyborg to Helsinki, Turku, Lappeenranta and Jyväskylä in Finland. More information from Matkahuolto and Savonlinja.

Saimaa Express connects Vyborg to Lappeenranta and Imatra. More information from Kymen Charterline and Saimaa Express.

Russian minibuses depart daily, 2-3 times a day from behind Tennispalatsi (Helsinki) for 20€ single, but the price might depend on how fully booked the bus is, how soon it is to depart and your fluency in Russian from the perspective of the driver demanding the fare.

Bus excursions depart St. Petersburg's Gostinyy Dvor on weekend mornings and cost about 700 Rubles, returning to St. Petersburg in the evening, a total of about 10-11 hours.

By train from St. Petersburg, express trains or Lastochka and local elektrichka trains depart from the Finlandskiy station. Express train tickets can be purchased in advance or at windows 27-30 at the Finland station on the day of departure.

Beware of long lines if attempting to purchase tickets shortly before the train departs. The one way ticket for Express train would cost around 330 rub and the ticket for a suburb train or Elektrichka will be slightly cheaper, those can be bought in the main hall at Finlandskiy station on the day of travel only.

Express train between St. Petersburg and Vyborg runs five times a day, and the journey takes about 1,5 hours. It has a cafeteria on board. The cheaper suburb service will take about 2,5 hours, it is equipped with hard wooden seats.

It is advised to use the ticket vending machines in the main hall, however, one can only buy a ticket for the next departure. For timetables, check the website of the Russian Railways.

If you visit Vyborg as a stop-over between e.g. St. Petersburg and Helsinki, then you can make use of the luggage lockers at the railway station. You have to purchase the chipcard for the lockers at the station information desk. As of June 2014, it costs 200 Rubles for three hours.

Vyborg is compact and walkable. Those in a hurry can take local bus #12 from the train station to the castle. City maps of Vyborg can be purchased at bookstores in St. Petersburg, at news kiosks at the Vyborg train station, and are sometimes sold at the Vyborg market or Rynok.

A walking tour of the major sights of the city can be done in about three to four hours, with Vyborg Castle being the highlight of the tour. Plus two-three hours if you want to see some beautiful nature in Monrepo park.

From the train station, walk down Leningradskiy Prospekt and turn right along the embankment of the Salakka-Lakhti Inlet. See the Market Square on the left at the end of the quay, where one can see the Market Hall or Rynok and the 16th-century Round Tower.

Walk past the Round Tower to the Lutheran Peter and Paul Cathedral in the park. Cross the street to see the blue-painted Transfiguration Cathedral, then walk up Vyborgskaya Ulitsa past the Council House Tower along the remnants of the old city wall, then head up the street.

This is the least picturesque part of the walk through the Stone City to see the Clock Tower tucked in among the apartment buildings. Before the Castle Bridge, see the Statue of Torgils Knutsson, the Swedish knight who founded the city in the 13th Century.

Look across the gulf to the Statue of Peter the Great in the park opposite.

Cross the bridge to Vyborg Castle which was originally built in 1293 by Swedes, captured by Peter the Great in the 18th Century, served as a Finnish prison in the 19th Century, and passed between the hands of the Soviets and Finns multiple times during World War II.

The castle has several different exhibits, each with its own entry fee, and one can climb to the top of the tower for a nice view of the city. Tickets for the tower cost 80 Rubles from the museum cashier.

Cross back over the bridge and walk up Krepostnaya Ulitsa through the town, turn left on Suvorovskiy Prospekt, see the Alvar Aalto Library and the Statue of a Moose in the park, then proceed to Red Square and the Statue of Lenin before heading up Vokzalnaya Ulitsa back to the train station.

If you have more time, from the Vyborg castle you can continue to the park Monrepo, beautiful English landscape park on the Finnish bay. It is about 2km walk from the Vyborg castle and can be reachable by foot, otherwise you can take a taxi, the taxi price is from 100 rubles.

But shouldn't be much higher, ask the driver in advance about the price or make sure he has a meter. Admission fee is 100 rubles for Russians and 200 rubles for foreign citizens.

Visit the market hall or Rynok and the market square outside, where one can find Karelian knits and woolen clothing, as well as tablecloths and lace among the fruits, vegetables, shoes, and other sundry items. There is a public toilet available in the market, but it is very basic indeed.

Slavyanskaya Trapeza in the basement of Ul. Yuzhniy Val 4, just across the bridge from Vyborg Castle, serves moderately-priced Russian food, including excellent Chicken Kiev for about 200 Rubles.

Restaurant NiKa at the Hotel Atlantik,Ul. Podgornaya. Prices are moderate to high.

Y Borharda right across the street from Hotel Atlantik, Ul. Podgornaya 10. Quite an extensive menu, including an excellent solyanka. Moderate to high prices in this rustic restaurant with kitsch decorations.

Kruglaya Bashnya, a Russian restaurant inside the Round Tower. Not as expensive as one might expect for its prime location, but service is slow.

Espila or Ravintola Espila Restaurant and Bistro. A copy of the destroyed during the second WW2 famous Finnish restaurant with the same name built on the ruins.

The menu offers European dishes with a touch of a Russian cuisine. The prices are about the same or slightly higher than in other dining places.

Bar Champion on Lenina st. 16 A modern English style sport bar with a good choice of beer. Good quality local brewed beers are sold here. The food is also served here.

Hotel Atlantik, Ul. Podgornaya 9 close to the castle off a main street. checkin: 2 PM; checkout: noon. a quiet, clean mid-range hotel with friendly, and basic English speaking young staff. Breakfast included.

Bat Hotel, Ul. Nikolaeva 3 between Park Lenina and the Salakka-Lakhti Inlet. known as Letuchaya Mysh in Russian is a mid-range hotel in the same class as the Atlantik.

Druzhba Hotel, Ul. Zheleznodorozhnaya 5. The imposing pyramid structure on the inlet.



Tourism Observer