As you may recall from the previous album, we got to the
city of Sortavala and waited for the boat to bring us to Valaam. The
Valaam Archipelago is located on Lake Ladoga and can be reached by boats
from the cities of Sortavala and Priozersk, as well as by cruise boat from
After about an hour we sailed from Sortavala, one could
already see the numerous rocky islands of the archipelago. Our tour to
Valaam will consist of two parts. This album covers the major tourist
attractions. The other one takes you to Valaam’s less well-known corners.
Valaam is an arichipelago consisting of
one main island, also called Valaam, and numerous little
islands. These islands are partly connected by bridges and some of them
are accessible by boat. The islands’ shores are mainly composed of
granites and diabases.
There are several different theories about the origins of the name
Valaam. Sometimes the name of the island is attributed to the name of
the pagan god Baal (Veles). According to the second theory the
Finno-Ugric word “valatka”, meaning “Ladoga white-fish”
gave its name to the island. The third one takes into considerations
Finnish word “valaamo” which can be translated as “the high
lands”. There are 10 lakes on the island. The highest elevation is
We reach the land at the Monastery Bay.
Here is the view of Nikolsky Skete on Nikolsky island (see more pictures
in the next album).
The main attraction of the island is
Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery devoted to the Transfiguration of Our
There are all kinds of sheds and
boathouses along the shores.
This chapel must be of modern origin…
General view of the place with a little
pier on the right.
Here the one can see people getting off
As far as I know there is only one hotel on the entire island.
Legally, since the island is protected as a historical and natural
reserve, the ships are not supposed at the pier for more than six hours
at a time.
There are quite a number of motorboats,
as well as cruise boats by this pier, even though a second landing pier
A collective taxi operates from the
However the demand for the taxi is not as high as its fare – almost
30 rubles, whereas in St. Petersburg the same ride would cost only 8 to
Alternative transportation :)
The monastery garden
The picture of the cross, chiseled in the
rock by the shore.
It’s difficult to make out the wording…
It’s only ten minutes walk from the pier
to the Monastery.
Here is Znamensky Chapel to honor the icon of Our Lady of the Sign.
It was erected in 1862 to commemorate the visit to the island by the
Emperor Alexander II.
And here is the obelisk commemorating the
visits by the other royalty guests.
Monastery entrance. The admission
through the first gate is free and it is open to the general public. The
second gate is intended for groups only.
There, behind the second gate stands the
Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Savior, built in 1887-1896 by
the architects G. Karpov and A. Silin. Intensive reconstruction activity
is going on inside the cathedral.
The monastery cloisters surround the cathedral in a form of two
walls, through which the gates are cut.
The first monastery was built on Valaam
in the 14th century.
The construction works reached its peak during
the reign of Peter the Great, and then again at the end of the 19th
After the October revolution Finland gained independence and the island
became a part of its territory in 1918.
After the Finnish-Soviet war of 1939 Valaam became a part of the USSR.
A Navy school was housed there in 1940.
In 1941 the Nazis occupied Valaam. It was liberated in 1944.
From 1952 to 1984 a boarding house for disabled soldiers and elderly
people was located there.
Historical and architectural reserve was established on Valaam in 1979.
In 1989 the right of using the cathedral and some nearby sketes was
again granted to the diocese. Only by 1991 all of the clerical and
administrative buildings were finally returned to the monastery.
Now, let’s leave the monastery and stroll around the island itself.
This is captured in the next album.