One of the most interesting places on our trip to Russia was definitely the Valaam Monastery or as we say in Finnish, Valamo. Depending on the source of information, it has stood on the Valamo main island for at least several hundred years, maybe even more than a thousand years. Most probably it is from 14th century. It has been in the middle of battles countless times and during Winter War monks were evacuated to Heinävesi in Eastern Finland and established the only working monastery in present-day Finland. It is also called Valamo Monastery but usually Finnish people refer to it as New Valamo and the one we visited is Old Valamo.
Back to the Old Valamo. It is situated on an island in Europe’s biggest lake Ladoga, or Laatokka in Finnish. Actually there are dozens of islands around the main island, a whole Valamo archipelago. There are monks living on the main island but also on the smaller islands. They have their own sketes and live a more quiet life than those living on the main island and meeting tourists on a daily basis.
The monastery has it’s own gardens, cattle, pharmacy, hotel, boats, stables etc. There are also civilians living on the island, at least at the moment. According to our guide, the civilians are moving out during this year and after that, there will be only monks and novices living in the Valamo archipelago.
I’ll tell more about the beautiful church another day!