Sortavala (Сортавала) is a town in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, located at the northern tip of Lake Ladoga. Population: 21,131 (2002 Census); 22,579 (1989 Census). It is an important station of the Vyborg-Joensuu railroad.


The district of Sortavala was first recorded in Swedish documents dating to 1468. Russian documents first mention it as "Serdovol" or "Serdobol" in 1500. It is disputed which name was the earliest. The settlement of Sortavala was attested in 1582. It was ceded to Sweden after the Ingrian War; the modern town seems to have been founded in 1632.

With the 1721 Treaty of Nystad, the settlement was joined to Russia along with the rest of Old Finland and was given the Russian name Serdobol. It became known for its marble and granite quarries which provided materials necessary for construction of imperial palaces in Saint Petersburg and the neighbourhood. In 1812, along with the rest of Viipuri province, it was joined to the newly formed Grand Duchy of Finland.

In 1917, the town remained a part of independent Finland. It suffered extensively from mass Soviet bombardment during the Winter War, and through the Moscow Peace Treaty Finland was forced to cede the town to the Soviet Union. All of the population of the town was evacuated for the first time. Like the rest of Finnish Karelia, Sortavala was retaken by Finland during 1941–1944 (the period of the Continuation War) and most evaquees returned back to rebuild their homes. However, after the armistice of 1944 the Finns were evacuated again and the town was ceded back empty of population. After the war the city was resettled by the Slavic population.

Until 1940, the Ladoga shore southwest of Sortavala had been one of the very few relatively densely populated areas north of the Karelian Isthmus populated by Karelians.


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