The underground ice sculpture festival "Mystery of the Depth" was first held on the territory of the "Ruskeala" Mountain Park in the Sortavala district of the Republic of Karelia at the end of February. Volumetric sculptural compositions are devoted to the theme of myths and legends of Karelia.
60 teams applied for participation in the festival and the jury selected just 11 teams. And this is the amount of sculptural groups that were created by amateurs and professionals from Russia, Kazakhstan and Latvia in the Great Column Marble Hall. This is the heart of a unique cave route, where the underground lake is located, covered at this time of year with thick transparent ice. Thanks to the special microclimate of the marble dungeons, the guests of the festival could see man-made ice compositions against the natural stalactites and stalagmites. Natural ice sculptures have been growing here since December 2018.
Each creative group was provided with eight large ice blocks for the creation of a sculptural composition. The craftsmen were working in the special conditions of the ice dungeon for three days. They could use only hand and power tools under the terms of the competition. So the festival can be called ecological.
It will be possible to observe the results of the festival from the cave route "Underground Ruskeala". The ice vernissage became part of this for the next three months. This means that thousands of tourists will be able to see the sculpture and touch the secret Ruskeala depths after the festival until the end of spring.
The festival "The Mystery of the Depth" and the cave route "Underground Ruskeala" are informationally supported by the Russian Geographical Society.
The "Ruskeala" Mountain Park is a complex natural landmark of the nature and the history of mining in Russia and Finland, located in the Sortavalsky district of the Republic of Karelia. Marble mined there was used for the lining of the St.Isaac's Cathedral, the Winter and Marble Palaces, the Mikhailovsky Castle, the Kazan Cathedral. The "Ruskeala" was visited by more than 315 thousand tourists in 2018. People can come to the park by car, tourist bus, as well as by the special train "Lastochka", launched from St. Petersburg to the nearest station to the park called Matkaselkya in December 2018.
Ruskeala adits and mines were created by Finnish craftsmen over a hundred years ago. The total length of the mine workings was several kilometers (so far only a small part has been investigated). Previously, a few extreme tourists went under the ground using rope equipment. The cavers of the RGS took an active part in the exploration of the underground space of the Mountain Park. Everyone can go through the mysterious marble galleries without much risk and special equipment thanks to the launch of the new caving route "Underground Ruskeala" since April 2017. In the coming months, the "Ruskeala" Mountain Park will receive participants from the first scientific and educational cave tours organized by the renowned regional tour operator "ScanTour" as part of a special agreement with the Russian Geographical Society.