The Valaam archipelago is located in the northern part of Lake Ladoga. This area attained natural park status in 1999. Islands cover about a sixth of the park. The island of Valaam stands out among them with area of 2,800 hectares. The island of Valaam gave its name to the whole archipelago and the monastery located on it.
The history of the monastery began in the 9th-11th centuries. An outstanding landscape and architectural complex, now with worldwide recognition, was created. In 1992, the President of the Russian Federation decreed that Valaam belonged to the heritage of Russia's people.
The islands were inhabited as early as the 10th century and almost immediately after, Orthodox monks settled on them. The Valaam monastery was ravaged by the Swedes in 1611. While restored one hundred and four years later, in 1751 and 1754 the wooden structures burned again.
In the 18th-19th centuries, churches, chapels, sketes, and household and service buildings were constructed here. Roads were laid, dams were built, bridges were erected, drainage structures were equipped, and canals were dug. Valaam monks persistently and patiently, literally with their bare hands, created a fertile soil on the rocks, transferring soil from the mainland and growing exotic garden trees and plants. Watermelons were grown on Valaam in open fields as far back as half a century ago.
The stone monastery became the center of the archipelago. Construction began in the first decade of the 19th century and it was finally completed by the architect A.M. Gornostaev in 1845-1862. The Central Estate consists of the Savior-Transfiguration Cathedral and its monastic cells and hostel for pilgrims, the Holy Gates with the Gate Church of St. Peter and Paul, and the Assumption and Holy Trinity cathedrals.
Seven sketes were built around the central estate and on the islands: Nikolsky skete, Bely (Vsesvyatsky), skete of Alexander Svirsky, (Gefsimansky), Krasny (Voskresensky), Predtechensky, Smolensky and Pokrovskaya chapel, the church of the Reverend Father (in whose walls monastery abbots are buried), and other buildings.
The nature around the monastery is so diverse that in the 19th century many graduates of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts came to Valaam. I.I. Shishkin, A.V. Gine, F.A. Vasiliev, and others frequently came here and immortalized the landscapes of the island in their paintings, many of which are now kept in the world's most famous museums.
In the post-war period, the great American painter Rockwell Kent came to Valaam for a holiday. Charmed by Valaam's nature, he jokingly remarked that «he would consider it an honor to become the mayor.»
Tourist Portal of Karelia / www.ticrk.ru
|Address:||The Republic of Karelia, Sortval District, Valaam village|