Once upon a time there was a village called Upper Mandrogi, or “Verkhnie Mandrogi” in the language of the locals. 170 miles north-east of St. Petersburg, on the banks of the Svir, a beautiful river running from Lake Ladoga to Lake Onega, right on the way from the Baltic to the Volga, part of the Valaam Archipelago.
Here the reminiscences of old fairytales come back alive: the gingerbread houses, cobbled stones, the old craftsmanship, the honest and simple peasant life. All the buildings in the village are made in Russian traditional village style, including the complex of museums, each displaying a different side of Russian folk life, with the famous “Museum of Russian Vodka” as the highlight..
The “Museum of Russian Vodka” collection counts for more than 2,800 different varieties of vodka from every corner of Russia. You can exchange vodka, bought in any part of Russia, for vodka produced in St. Petersburg, thus contributing to the collection enlargement.
Upper Mandrogi is quite a new village dating back to 1844, but it was completely destroyed during World War II. The second life was given to Upper Mandrogi in 1996 when a St. Petersburg entrepreneur and patron of the arts, Sergei Gutzeit, decided to convert the village into a tourist destination for travelers taking river cruises from St. Petersburg to Moscow and vice versa.
The first building to appear in the restored village was a tiny hotel. Although it looks like a solid traditional village house with a real stove and handmade woodcarving decoration, it meets Western standards of comfortable living, offering its guests all modern amenities such as private bathrooms, telephones, and direct Internet access.
In several years Upper Mandrogi turned into a fairytale tourist destination. Today the village features a number of guest houses, several restaurants and pubs, souvenir shops, handicraft house, the “Museum of Russian Vodka” and the “Bread Museum”, the Lukomorye fairytale meadow with a little zoo and even a marina for the yachters.
A visit to Upper Mandrogi brings you in a parallel world between dreams and reality. Come ashore and indulge yourself in this wondrous world of this toy-like village offering all kinds of entertainment: a horse festival, fishing, hunting, picnicking, attending culinary workshops or visiting some of its museums.
Be fascinated by the distinctively Russian, homey feel of this lively and colorful village with one of our Russian River Cruises.