The whole truth about Kolezhma Village of Belomorsky District in Karelia

Where in Karelia is Kolezhma village and the river of the same name

The Pomeranian village of Kolezhma, located at the mouth of the river of the same name on the shore of the White Sea, is one of the most striking tourist sites in Karelia.

Kolezhma is an old Pomeranian village in Karelia, which in 2017 celebrated 470 years since its first mention in written sources.

Geographical location

Kolezhma is located at the mouth of the river of the same name on the coast of the Onega Bay of the White Sea. The village is situated on the so called Pomorsky coast – the stretch of coast from the river Kem to the river Onega, inhabited by descendants of the Pomors already in the Middle Ages.

The village is administratively subordinated to the Sumposadsky Village Council of the Belomorsky District of Karelia. Kolezhma is located 30 kilometers east of the Sumskoy Posad village, to which it is connected by an unpaved road – the only overland route to the “big world”. The distance to the district center of Belomorsk is more than 100 kilometers.

Weather and climate

The climate of Kolezhma belongs to the category of moderate latitudes with a lot of precipitation. Winters are long but fairly mild, the spring begins in April, summers are cool and short, and the fall comes in the second half of August. Cloudy weather and high precipitation are typical for Kolezhma: even in the driest month (February) there are precipitations in 17 out of 28 calendar days. In December, the meteorological station in the village records an average of 23 days of snowfall.

The average annual temperature in Kolezhma is +1.4°C. Due to the mildness of the climate, the difference in the average monthly temperature between the coldest and warmest month of the year is not large and is only 26.8 °C. The coldest month of the year is January with an average temperature of -11.8 °C and the warmest month is July with an average of +15 °C. Throughout the year for Kolezhma, in addition to high cloudiness, strong winds and sudden changes in weather conditions caused by sea cyclones are typical.

Where to stay in the village

Lopsky Bereg guest house is the main and actually the only accommodation option in Kolezhma. The complex is 3 kilometers away from the village and is located on the Lopsky island in the middle of the White Sea, 20 meters away from the sea shore. During the multimeter tide on the White Sea the water practically reaches the gates of the complex. In spite of the formal island position, the island is connected to the village by an automobile road.

The complex consists of two 2-story cottages: ¹ 1 and ¹ 2 respectively. In cottage No.1 guests are offered:

  • 5 double rooms (cost 2500 RUR per day);
  • 1 four-bed family room (3,100 RUR).

All rooms are equipped with an individual shower and toilet and are located on the second floor. The first floor of the cottage has a kitchen-dining room, a common room with a TV, home cinema and karaoke, and a separate room for billiards.

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In cottage No. 2 guests are offered accommodation:

  • 4 economy double rooms (2000 RUR per day);
  • 2 family quadruple rooms (4000 RUR).

Economy class rooms have toilets for two rooms and are located on the first floor. Large family rooms have individual kitchens, toilets and showers, and are located on the second floor of the cottage.

Organized meals are available for all guests of the complex: breakfast for 220 RUR, lunch for 400 RUR, dinner for 330 RUR.

For a fee the guests of the complex can use additional services: bathhouse, ATV and snowmobile rent, trips to sea and lake fishing, organized hunting, boat trips, organization of picnics and even visiting Solovetsky islands on the sea-vessel. All additional services can be arranged with the hotel administration.


The population of Kolezhma has fallen below the mark of 150 people and continues to decrease. For comparison, according to the census of 1926 the population of Kolezhma Village Council was 1168 people, so for the past almost 100 years the number of inhabitants of the village has decreased almost 8 times. Most of the present inhabitants of the village are descendants of the Pomors – the old-time population of the White Sea coast, who in their time migrated here from other lands of Veliky Novgorod.

Standard of living

Earlier Kolezhma inhabitants, as well as other Pomor villages on the White Sea coast, were famous for their wealth, which was provided by the sea. But as time passed, the whole Pomorsky shore turned into a real backwater, which could not but affect the economic situation of this historical region. It can be said that now Kolezhma is a reserve of a bygone era, almost untouched by modernity.

Since the 30s there has been a fishing collective farm in Kolezhma called “Zarya Severa”, whose work is ensured by a modest-sized sea port. Fishing has long been the main occupation of the Kolezhma inhabitants and it still remains so. Now Kolezhma is the leader of the Republic of Karelia in catching saffron cod and harvesting seaweed. Another sphere of activity, in which a significant share of local residents is engaged, is tourism. So, despite the decline in population, Kolezhma is a rather prosperous village from the economic point of view against the background of many Pomor villages.

Hunting in the region

One of the options for leisure-time activities in Kolezhma is hunting in the coastal zone of the White Sea, on sea islands or in the mouth of the river Kolezhma. The main hunting trophy here is considered to be the goose (white-fronted goose, goose or geese), you can also hunt ducks. Goose hunting is considered rather difficult, as this bird is cautious and clever, and during the flight prefers to stay on secluded islands of the White Sea.

Goose hunting is allowed twice a year during the bird’s migration: 10 days in May and 30 days in late September and early October. It’s during this time that geese return north to their nesting places or vice versa go to the south for wintering. The rest of the time, geese hunting is strictly prohibited, as well as hunting without a license. To receive the permission to hunt, it is necessary to inform beforehand the organizers about the necessity to receive a license. The cost of the license is 1000 RUR and it can be got by yourself in Petrozavodsk or Belomorsk.

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During the hunt the participants will be accompanied by an experienced huntsman, who will give support and help with everyday problems. The cost of the hunt depends on the duration, a place of throwing and a way of delivery of the hunters.

The hunting tour to the islands of the White Sea which duration is up to 15 days costs 30000 RUR with the transfer by cross-country vehicles, accommodation in the field camp and rent of tents and sleeping bags. The hunting tour by “The Lopsky coast” will cost 2500 RUR for the excursion to the island in the White Sea where the tourists will be provided with the hunting lodge with the bathhouse and the kitchen.

All about the river Kolezhma

The river Kolezhma, which gave its name to the village of the same name, is the main water artery of this area connecting inland areas with the White Sea shore.


The Kolezhma is a small river flowing exclusively within the Belomorsky District of Karelia. The river belongs to the White Sea basin, its source is in the Talskiy Mokh bog. At the place, where Kolezhma is crossed by the Obozersko-Belomorskaya railroad, there is a bridge over the river, and the railway station is situated there. At the mouth of the river is Kolegma village, which was named after the river.

Description of the river

The length of the river is 87 kilometers, the average annual water flow is 5.83 m/sec. There are a lot of rapids on the river, the channel of Kolezhma is winding with lots of turns. Within the stream of Kolezhma, many channel lakes are formed, which are caused by the river relief.

Kolezhma has two large tributaries: Ceptsa and Pyala rivers, it also has two brooks more than 10 kilometers long: Yurno and Samovarny. In its upper reaches, the Kolezhma flows in the hilly terrain on the slopes of the Windy Belt ridge. The mouth of the river lies in a marshy plain, typical for the coast of Onega Bay.

The river Kolezhma is the habitat of valuable commercial fish species, such as kumzha, whitefish, vendace. There are also many common inhabitants of water bodies of the European part of Russia: burbot, pike, perch, roach and other species.

Kolezhma can be used for active recreation, in particular for river rafting. But the river Kolezhma is dry most of the year, that’s why you’d better choose May and June when the water level is maximal after the flood. Also, rapids and rifts, often found on the river, pose a danger to rafters.

The Pomor village of Kolezhma, situated on the river of the same name, is one of the settlements on the Pomorsky coast, the land of amazing natural beauty and extraordinary people who had once conquered the Russian coast of the Arctic Ocean.

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Kolezhma is an old Pomor village in the Belomorsky District of the Republic of Karelia.

There is no mention of it in the acts of the Solovetsky Monastery in the 15th century, but the settlement must have already existed, because in one of the charters from the 70s of that century there is the name of Ivan Kolezhma. Census books of 1563 know him as a priest near the church and a co-owner of one of the salt works.

Kolezhma. Photo by S. Koshkina, March 12, 2013.

It is known that two villages in Kolezhma were granted to the Solovetsky monastery in 1550 for the construction of a stone church in the monastery. By the time of that grant, there were 12 peasant households in those villages, 3 households had 4 bobyls, 9 were in desolation, and 8 salt pans were functioning. By 1583 there were 3 households of church attendants and a clerk of the Solovetsky monastery by the church, Rubievshchina village was spread on both sides of Kolezhma, the other one was near the mouth. There were 19 households and 43 people in them, as well as 4 households of peasants, who were hired to work in salt pits.

The Purification Church in the village of Kolezhma was consecrated in 1903. In the 1930s it was partially destroyed, at present the village club is located there.

There was a shop near the village. Kolezhma Usolye, later transferred to the monastery, was still active in the first half of the XVIII century. There is some information about salt making here in the 19th century as well.

Kolezhma, 2016. Photo by Victor Dryaguyev

Kolezhma is the birthplace of famous captains and ship mechanics: Pakulins, Klikachev, Postnikov, Zolotovsky, Trifonov, Paykachev and others. Kolezhma is home to shipbuilders and fishermen, it is a village of great toilers. Fishing collective farm “The Zarya Severa”, one of the most successful collective farms of the White Sea area, was founded there several decades ago. The first chairman of the collective farm was Timofei Grigorievich Pakulin. Just a couple of years after its foundation “Zarya Severa” became a millionaire collective farm. In 1940 its gross income reached 1062 thousand rubles. During the Great Patriotic War, constantly exceeding the plan more than 250%, the fishermen of the collective farm gave the country and the front over the task hundreds of centners of production. Known names of the fishermen of Kolozhemsk: Sopunov, Kononov, Egorov, Light and others.

Yakov Ivanovich Yudin (1879 – 1954), a native of the village. Kolezhma, Hero of Socialist Labor. In 1931 he was one of the first to join a fishing collective farm and to the end of his life worked as a groom. Horses, the main draught force during the winter fishery, were always in good condition. In 1949 Yudin became a participant of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of July 30, 1949 he was the first in Karelia among the agricultural workers awarded the title of the Hero of Socialist Labor. In 1969 in Kolezhma village he was commemorated by a monument. A sculptural chest portrait of Ya. I. Yudin is installed on a pedestal of concrete. The bust is cast in bronze on the model of the sculptor P.M. Krivorutsky.

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Kolezhma is rich in folklore traditions, Pomor word, Pomor song are preserved here even today, that were saved for us by song- and fairy-tale-girls from Kolezhma, participants of folklore group – Sinitsina Zinaida Kirillovna, Trifonova Anna Grigorievna, Ovsyannikova Anna Vasilievna, etc., and also by the sketches of the sketches. Back in 1899, a famous folklorist and historian of ancient Russian literature Alexander Grigoriev recorded in the village bylinas, historical songs, spiritual poems, which were included in the monumental work “Arkhangelsk bylinas and historical songs.

Zinaida Kirillovna Sinitsina. Photo from the archives of T. G. Postnikova. Published by: S. V. Koshkina “Let me have my sonorous voice…”: Sinitsina Zinaida Kirillovna”: Album-biography of a narrator of the Karelian Pomorie (Belomorsk, 2015)

Since that time, folklorists and ethnographers have been constantly coming to the village, recording rich folklore material.

Pomeranian choir from the village of Kolezhma. Photo by S. Alexandrov. Photocopy from the newspaper “Belomorskaya Tribuna”, 1967.

Kolezhma is the birthplace of the honored workers of culture Otavin Ivan Iosifovich, Vasilyeva Maria Sergeevna, Selezneva Maria Stepanovna, Otavina Irina Ivanovna, honored worker of the national economy of the KASSR Klikachev Nikolai Mikhailovich.

Kolezhma is 470 years old. Opening of the jubilee year on the Purification of the Lord – the Kolezhma throne holiday. February, 2017. Photo from the archive of the Kolezhma House of Culture

Kolezhma is a special world, its unique landscape and the people who lived in this harsh region for several centuries, repeatedly described in fiction and fine art, for example, in the story of Alexander Viktorovich Kostunin “Kolezhma” or in “Travel Notes and Memoirs” by George Stronk.

On June 25, 2017 in the village of Kolezhma there was a grand opening of the memorial plaque on the place of military glory of the Belomorsky district – the airfield “Kolezhma”. Here during the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 1944 there was a military airfield from which the successful operations were performed all along the Karelian front from Petrozavodsk to Murmansk, an air attack of fortifications, airfields, piles of techniques and manpower of the enemy, trains, ships on Ladoga and Onega lakes, an air cover of important strategic targets was carried out.

A memorial plaque at the Kolezhma airfield, a place of military glory in the Belomorsky district. Kolezhma. June 25, 2017. Photo by I. Nikonov

Kolezhma is one of the oldest settlements of the White Sea coast, with well preserved traditional features of the culture of the Russian population of Pomerania. Invasions of modern housing are insignificant and on the whole do not distort the historically formed appearance of the Pomor village. It is of undoubted historical and architectural value and may become a component part of the tourist route covering the Pomor settlements of Sukhoye, Virma, Sumsky Posad. The presence of monuments (the building that once housed the Purification Church consecrated in 1903, a monument to the pilots buried in Kolezhma, a memorial plate with the names of the villagers who died during the Great Patriotic War, a monument to the Hero of Socialist Labour Yakov Ivanovich Yudin (1879-1954), the manager of the northern horse-raising farm Zarya) allows to include the village into the category of historically valuable settlements of the Belomorsky region.

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Information resources about Kolezhma, created by the Centre of Pomor culture and the “Pomorsky Bereg” public association

The song “The White Sea”, recorded in the village of Kolezhma:

A film about Anna Grigorievna Trifonova (1903-1989), a Karelian Pomeranian songstress and storyteller, a native of the village of Kolezhma. Kolezhma, who lived from 1960 in the village of Sumski Posad, Belomorsky District (Karelia), from whom at different times folk lore specialists of the country have recorded works of folk art: tales, riddles, ballads, stories, songs. She knew and remembered a lot about ancient rituals, generously shared her knowledge not only with the members of the Sumposad folklore group, in which she sang, but also with ethnographers, folklorists of the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) RAS, Institute of Language, Literature and History of Karelian Scientific Centre RAS, Karelian State Pedagogical Institute. The works recorded by A.G. Trifonova are preserved till nowadays in these institutions. The presentation of the album and the film “Anna Grigorievna Trifonova – songstress, storyteller of Karelian Pomerania” was held at the Belomorsk Pomorsky Culture Center on December 28, 2016.

The book by S. V. Koshkina (published on October 15, 2016 in a single copy) about Ivan Iosifovich Otavin (1931-2013), excellent cinematographer of the USSR, Honored Worker of Culture of Karelian ASSR, veteran of labor of the Russian Federation and Karelian ASSR. He devoted his entire life to serving the arts, working first as a projectionist at the Lapinsky village club, showing silent movies to the residents of Lapino, Vorenji, Yendoguba, Sumostrova, then, before retiring, at the village club in the village of Kolezhma. For several years he was a deputy of the village Soviet. He was several times awarded Diplomas of the Ministry of Culture of the RSFSR and the Central Committee of the Trade Union of Culture Workers, the Ministry of Culture of the Karelian-Finnish SSR, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Karelian-Finnish ASSR, Diplomas of Merit of the Department of Cinema of the Karelian ASSR and the regional trade union committee of the cultural workers. He was awarded the titles “Best projectionist of the Karelian ASSR”, “Best projectionist of the district. Otavin’s name was repeatedly put on the Board of Honor of the Directorate of Cinematography and on the Board of Honor of the Film Directorate of the Belomorsky District. He is known as a tireless chronicler of Kolezhma village: Karelian newspapers published his sketches, notes, reports, for what he was awarded with the Diploma of the Board of the Union of Journalists of KASSR, the Commendation list of Belomorskij Komsomol KASSR. His archival heritage includes hundreds of articles neatly folded in folders. He collected materials not only about Kolezhma, but about the whole Belomorskij district and Pomorie as a whole. The book “Ivan Iosifovich Otavin” by S. V. Koshkina

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