Lake Ladoga is the largest in Europe. You probably dreamed about Lake Baikal, right? Ladoga is also quite a dream. The island of Valaam in Karelia, the Valaam stauropegic monastery … There is a legend that the cross on the island of Valaam was installed by the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. One way or another, this monastery is one of those that attract both believers and curious.
Valaam Island in Karelia is a place where tourists seek in 2021 for the sake of northern landscapes, rich and complex history, architectural monuments of the 18-19 centuries: the Transfiguration Cathedral, the temples of the Assumption and the Life-Giving Trinity, the Holy Gates with the gateway church of Peter and Paul, chapels and sketes.
Pilgrims are also going to Valaam. The pilgrimage service of the Valaam Monastery is active, it cooperates with travel companies in Karelia, Moscow and St. Petersburg, and organizes a transfer by Meteora. And modern – the monastery even has a mobile application.
Rocks, cold water, frequent storms, but also surprisingly sunny weather – there are more sunny days on Valaam than on the shores of Lake Ladoga. Of course, there is a meteorological explanation for this, but it can be considered a miracle. The Valaam archipelago, by the way, has had the status of a natural park since 1999.
You can come to the island of Valaam in Karelia in 2021 with a one-day excursion (the schedule of motor ships allows this), on weekends, for several days. With an organized group, on a cruise, with a pilgrimage service or on your own – it’s up to you.
No special permits are required to visit Balaam. Of course, it is worth observing the monastic “dress code”: women need a skirt and a scarf that covers their knees, men – long trousers.
History of the Valaam Island
Nobody knows for sure when the Orthodox monastery was founded on the island of Valaam. According to one version, back in the 10th century, and then it was more than a thousand years old. According to others – in the 11th century, at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, or at the beginning of the 15th century. In the Middle Ages, the monastery was also a defensive fortress, withstood many attacks by Swedish troops.
The monastery flourished in the 19th century, it was then that stone churches and chapels were built, marinas for steamers and orchards (on the rocks!), Roads and canals, fish and horse, brick and tanneries appeared. At the same time, a huge Transfiguration Cathedral was built and a thousand-ton bell was cast in honor of St. Andrew the First-Called.
Valaam was visited by Russian emperors, famous artists Shishkin, Kuindzhi and Roerich, writers Leskov, Tyutchev and even Alexander Dumas, composer Tchaikovsky, scientists Mendeleev and Miklouho-Maclay.
In the 1950s, the House of War Invalids was opened in the former Winter Hotel of the monastery, a state farm and a tourist center appeared on the island. Since 1960, the islands in Lake Ladoga have been protected and studied, in 1979 the Valaam Museum-Reserve was created. A school, a kindergarten, a hospital, a meteorological station, a house of culture and a library worked in the village.
The revival of the monastery on Valaam began in 1989, when monks began to live on the island again, church services began, and then the restoration of the monastery. In fact, all the buildings of the village have now been transferred to the monastery.
Where to stay
Valaam, for all its fame, is a very small island: less than 10 kilometers long, less than 8 kilometers wide. The most comfortable thing, perhaps, is not to look for an overnight stay on the island. But to visit here during a cruise or with a one-day excursion from Petrozavodsk.
Two hotels have been opened for pilgrims at the monastery in the Central Estate. Pilgrimage house “Igumensky” for 39 people, with double rooms in the former monastic cells and amenities on the floor. An overnight stay costs 2,000 rubles per person based on double occupancy. Pilgrimage house “Flotsky” is designed for 20 guests, there are both double rooms (1400 rubles per person per day) and five-bed rooms (900 rubles per person per day). Amenities on the floor.