Valaam Archipelago is one of the most interesting cultural, historical and nature attractions in the North of Russia. The ancient Valaam Monastery is situated here, first mentions about which date back to the 10th Century.
For many years Valaam Monastery was a religious and cultural center of Russia supported by Russian Tzars and the Russian Church. The Monastery was completely self-sufficient and monks produced all the necessary products themselves while working at small factories, saw-mills and farms, constructing buildings and fishing in Lake Ladoga.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Valaam Monastery became on of the wealthiest Russian Monasteries, comprising a kind of a small state with 13 smaller monasteries under control.
During the Second World War the Archipelago was under control of Finland and returned back to the USSR in 1944. Since that time the Monastery was closed until 1989. Now it functions again.
Main sights of Valaam
1. Cathedral of the Transfiguration and the Monastery manor
2. Valaam Hermitages
There are 8 hermitages on the very Valaam Island and nearby isles, of different architecture and history. In several hermitages, monks live according to the strict rules of the Monastery. Some of the hermitages are open for visitors and two are abandoned.
3. Oboronny (defense) Island
The Island is located to the south of Valaam, separated by a narrow canal. The name of the Island is originated by its fortifications that still can be found there. During the WWII, Finnish artillery was located on the Island, with a cannon moving on rails and keeping under fire nearly the whole Ladoga Lake area.
4. Krestovoe Lake
Lake in the south of Valaam, with great scenery and a worship cross on its shore.
5. Chapels, crosses, little hermitages
Numerous sights of this kind can be found all over Valaam.
6. Canals, arch bridges, alleys
Canals with arch bridges connect inner lakes of Valaam Island. Beautiful alleys of silver fir and larch are a good place for a pleasant and meditative stroll.
7. Farms, cemeteries, household and housing facilities
8. Valaam Nature
Valaam Valaam has a micro-climate, which makes the weather warmer than in the neighboring areas. In this northern region, monks cultivated melons growing up to three kilograms and watermelons up to eight. Nature is spectacularly beautiful there. Ladoga Lake washes the sandy and rocky shores of the Islands on which dense forests grow, and when walking along the paths of Valaam you see fields sparkling with flowers, picturesque inner lakes and springs, and find out a remote hermitage or a farm that was tilled by monks centuries ago.
The lake area around is rich with fish, islands are populated by birds and on the shore-line Ladoga Ringed Seal lives - a rare and interesting animal species. Within the area of Valaam Nature Park nature of the Archipelago is specially protected.
A comprehensive tour of Karelia, including the Solovetsky Islands
Voyage from St. Petersburg to Valaam Island in Ladoga Lake
Feel free to request a tailor made tour to Russia
Hydrofoil from Sortavala to Valaam is operated from mid May till mid September, travel time is one hour one way.
Occasional hydrofoils are operated from Priozersk.
All trips are weather dependent, expecially the trip from Priozersk where the boat crosses the open lake.