The 14 best sights of Valaam – description and photos

Valaam sights

Valaam Monastery Valaam Island Hephsimanski Skete St. Nicholas Skete St. Vladimir Skete Ilyinsky Skete Konevsky Skete Voskresensky Skete Jubilee Spruces of Valaam

The site contains the sights of Valaam – photos, description and tips for travelers. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to questions: what to see on Valaam, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places of Valaam.

Valaam Monastery

Valaam Monastery (photo)

Valaam Monastery (aka Preobrazhensky) is located on Valaam Island in Lake Ladoga.

The monastery was founded by the natives of Novgorod at the beginning of the 14th century. For many years the monastery served as a fortress, repeatedly repulsing attacks of belligerent Swedes, but in 1611 it fell to the enemy. In 1715 the monastery was restored by decree of Peter the Great.

The Valaam Monastery has always been famous for its strict charter. For some time it was even used as a prison. Also here has always been well organized farming, gardening, dairy farming, fishing and handicrafts.

Today it is a functioning monastery. Tourists can visit it by booking a tour pass. Also in the monastery you can buy audio recordings of the monastery choir.

Coordinates: 61.66902400,30.95581000

Valaam Island

Valaam Island (photo)

Valaam is the largest island of the entire Valaam Archipelago, which is located in the northern region of Ladoga Island. The island invariably attracts tourists with its pristine nature and protected sanctuaries.

Valaam is located at a distance of 22 kilometers from the mainland. There are about 200 people living here, with most of them – monks. In the summertime, the island is crowded with tourists. Order on the island is maintained by the church authorities. The male monastery located here is subordinate to the patriarch. The main cathedral of the monastery is called St. Transfiguration Monastery of Valaam, it was completely rebuilt in the XIX century. Today here you can hear the famous Valaam singing.

The island got its name from the Finno-Ugric “valam”, which means mountainous, high ground.

The hermitage of Alexander Svirsky, which is 8 kilometers from the monastery, is interesting to look at. All in all, there are about 10 hermitages on the island.

The rests of buildings of Mannerheim line will attract the fans of military history.

Coordinates: 61.40066300,61.40066300

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Gethsemane hermitage

Gethsemane hermitage (photo)

The hermitage of Gethsemane, which was built in 1911 by hegumen Mauritius, is located on Mount Zion. In 1910 there was installed a bowed cross of gray granite with the symbolism of the suffering of the Savior on the cross.

Its church, topped with tents, was consecrated in the name of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The exterior of the church is richly decorated with carvings, and the interior decoration, particularly the iconostasis, was made of cypress, today, unfortunately, completely lost.

The hermitage is now undergoing restoration work.

Next to it is a small wooden chapel, where you can see the icon “Praying of the Cup. Behind the church, between the firs, there are two monastic blocks for the brethren, where Finnish gunners lived in the 1930s.

Coordinates: 61.37180800,30.89232400

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Svyatoy Island

Saint Island (photo)

St. Island belongs to the Valaam archipelago. In the old days it was called differently: Pyukha Sarah, Pyukha, Pyukhasaari. Pyukha is also translated as “Saint”. The island also had the name of “Ugly”. The lonely island, absolutely deserted, the rocks overhanging the water, it was always difficult to approach it by boat, it could simply break into splinters. Apparently that’s where the “gloomy” name comes from.

Legend has it that the Venerable Alexander Svirsky lived here for some time. After he settled on Valaam, he decided to be completely isolated from people and settled on the island of Svyatoy. Prayers day and night did their work – the monk heard a voice, at the call of which he returned home to his homeland.

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In the XVIII century, a hermitage was built there. A little later a church in honor of the Venerable Alexander Svirsky was built, as well as a cross near the church. You can also go to the cave where he lived Alexander Svirsky, there is also a cross and an icon.

Coordinates: 61.41135000,31.05608000

St. Nicholas Skete

Skete of St. Nicholas (photo)

St. Nicholas Skete is one of the most beautiful sketes on the Valaam island. It is located 1.5 kilometers from the central manor of the monastery. You can get there by the road, built in the XVIII century. First, it goes along the Valaam, and then along the wooden bridges that connect the islands.

St. Nicholas Skete received the first monks in the XVIII century. At that time 12 monks lived here, they were engaged in fishing and customs inspection: it was forbidden to bring tobacco and alcoholic beverages to Valaam.On the very top of the hill there is a restored hipped church of St. Nicholas Skete. Previously there was a small chapel with a lighthouse, built in the early XIX century. The walls inside the temple were painted by monks who lived in its territory and the main theme of paintings was the life of Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Near the pier, tourists can admire the granite cross, set up in 1861, and a small wooden structure that used to serve as a customs office. The monks used to live in the monastic wing, which was restored in 1988.

Coordinates: 61.36777800,30.92883100

Skete of St. Vladimir

Skete of Vladimir (photo)

The St. Vladimir Skete on the Valaam Island is a relatively new building. The skete was set up in 2002 and the construction was finished in 2007. The skete was designed by Andrei Anisimov’s Workshop with the participation of architects Andrei Anisimov and Tatiana Yefimova. Architects tried to translate their project to ensure that all buildings of the hermitage were linked by a single idea and formed a coherent ensemble.

At St. Vladimir’s hermitage was built a temple in honor of St. Vladimir, which in 2008 was consecrated by Patriarch Alexy II. The temple has two aisles: in the name of the Holy Great Martyr Lyudmila and in the name of All Russian Saints. The temple was built in the purely Russian style, but with elements of Art Nouveau.

The Museum of the Valaam Monastery History occupies the ground floor of the skete. There is a separate hall in the museum devoted to Patriarch Alexis II, who did a lot for the revival of the monastery on Valaam.

Coordinates: 61.37304200,30.88714600

Ilyinsky skete

Ilyinsky skete (photo)

In addition to its main monastic courtyard, the Valaam Monastery has several sketes, such small “pieces” of the monastery that are located in hard-to-reach places. The sketes are usually inhabited by several monks or novices.

The Ilyinsky Skete is located on the territory of the famous Valaam Monastery, located on the Valaam Archipelago on Lake Ladoga. The history of the hermitage goes back to the XIX century, it was founded by hegumen Damaskin. The skete also gave its name to the island – Ilyinsky. In the fifties of the XX century, the hermitage was completely destroyed. In 2006 it was completely rebuilt.

Prior to that, the old church of the skit was not very expressive. Architects have tried to make a new church to the glory. It is designed in a northern pure Russian style with a hipped roof.

Coordinates: 61.41134300,31.12169200

Konevsky hermitage

Konevsky skete (photo)

Hegumen Damaskin founded the Konevsk skete in 1870 in his place of solitude and named it after the Akathist (Konevskaya) icon.

Initially in Konevsky skete was built chapel, which was moved in 1858 from the island of the Forerunner. Then by the project of G. Karpov the church was founded. The hermitage dwellers strictly obeyed the hermitage’s code and did not eat fish or dairy products on the feast days, which were very abundant in Konevskie (Igumeno) lakes.

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At present there are no more than three people in the Konevskii hermitage. Restored temple named Konevskaya Mother of God is considered the shrine of the hermitage. Nearby there is a cell in which lives a hermit and novices. Tourists are allowed to enter Konevsky hermitage, but the entrance to the temple is prohibited. By prior arrangement only pilgrims can enter the temple.

Coordinates: 61.37106800,30.93589800

Holy Resurrection hermitage

Voskresensky skete (photo)

The Holy Resurrection Skete, also known as the Red Skete, was built in 1901-1906 by the Finnish diocesan architect V. I. Barankeev. It is located on a hilltop above the Great Nikonov Bay, 800 meters from the Gethsemane Skete.

It was built thanks to the pilgrim I.M.Sibiryakov, who offered hegumen Gabriel to build it on the place where the monastery fishermen lived, and donated 10 thousand rubles. The center of the hermitage is a two-story church, similar to the temple in Jerusalem.

Its entrance is an open porch with four columns connected by arches. Under it is the entrance to the lower church, named after Andrew. In it you can see the “kuvuklia” – a gray marble grotto, where a part of the “true tomb of the Lord” was kept.

In the summer, small concerts of spiritual singing are held in the upper church. The hermitage complex includes two monastic blocks and a refectory where pilgrims and tourists are fed.

Coordinates: 61.37349400,30.89251000

Jubilee Spruces of Valaam

Wallaam skyline spruces (photo)

Valaam is the largest island of the beautiful archipelago of more than 50 islands in northwestern Ladoga Lake in Karelia.

Overgrown with forest, replete with numerous bays, inlets, straits and inland lakes, Valaam stands out from the hundreds of other Ladoga islands. Everything here is unusual: huge masses of granite, overgrown with moss, mighty pines, whose roots, like hands, cling to completely bare rocks, ridges of boulders.

Also on Valaam you can meet unusual firs with thick crown going down to the ground, the famous fur-trees with “skirts”, which were planted by the monks of Valaam Monastery.

Coordinates: 61.39803400,30.97904200

The most popular attractions on Valaam with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places of Valaam on our site.

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14 Must-see Sights in Valaam


Valaam is the largest island of the Valaam Archipelago on Lake Ladoga. Among tourists and pilgrims, Valaam is commonly referred to as the entire archipelago. It is famous for its beautiful nature, ancient history and the beauty of religious buildings located here.

Valaam’s natural and man-made sights inspired famous artists, poets, writers, and musicians who visited it at different times: Alexandre Dumas, Fyodor Tyutchev, Ivan Shishkin, Isaak Levitan, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and others. Each year the archipelago is visited by more than a hundred thousand people.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery (Valaam Monastery)

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery (Valaam Monastery)

The Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery (Valaam Monastery).

Valaam has been a stronghold of Orthodoxy in Northern Russia from ancient times. There is no unified view on the time of the foundation of the monastery. According to legend, in the 10th century missionaries Sergius and Hermann from Greece lived here in seclusion. On the place where they were buried the beautiful Transfiguration cathedral is erected.

The constructions we see today were formed in the XIX century. The monastery was not spared the hard times of World War I. After 1917 Valaam became part of the newly formed Finland. During the Soviet-Finnish war the territory of the monastery was in the zone of armed conflict.

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After the end of the Great Patriotic War, the surviving rooms were adapted to a boarding school for disabled veterans, which was then moved to the mainland. In 1990 the monastery was handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church. Since then its revival began.

The monastery is decorated with well-kept cells, beautiful chapels, refectories, magnificent monastic gardens. There is a cafe, a hotel and a library on the territory of the estate. The relics of the righteous Herman and Sergius, Antipas of Valaam and the Valaam elders are kept in the monastery.

A beautiful panorama of Monastery’s bay opens from the observation deck of monastery’s bell tower, 70 m high.

Address: Valaam Monastery, Sortavala, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Skete of All Saints.

All Saints Skete

Skete of All Saints. Photo: wikimedia.

The skete of All Saints is the oldest outside the Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Venerable Alexander Svirsky first lived here in seclusion. Accommodation for the monk was a cave dug by him.

In the middle of XIX century on the means of hegumen Damaskin built the refectory, private buildings and the church of All Saints. In 1939 the monks were taken to Finland. In 1993, the church was re-consecrated and the service was resumed.

The hermitage fascinates travelers with its harmony and beauty of towers and domes. Around the beautiful garden grown by the monks tasty berries and fruits can be bought in the monastery shop.

On the feast of All Saints everyone can enter the hermitage. On this day the priests and pilgrims walk in a religious procession from the Preobrazhensky monastery manor to the skete of All Saints.

Address: All Saints Skete, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Svyato-Vladimirsky Skete

Svyato-Vladimirsky skete

Svyato-Vladimirsky skete.

Monastery was built in the XXI century and is made in Pskov-Novgorod architectural style. It is a single complex that includes a temple, cells, library, icon painting studio. Here are the personal apartments of the Patriarch of All Russia. On the first floor there is a Museum of the history of the monastery. Visitors to the museum are accompanied by a guide-guide who takes them to the front St. Vladimir’s Church.

The facade of the church, consecrated in 2008 in honor of Prince Vladimir and the side-altars of All Saints and Martyr Lyudmila of the Czech Republic, is decorated with colored majolica ornaments and carved pediments. The walls are painted in Old Russian manner.

The layout of the complex is designed in such a way that pilgrims do not disturb the peaceful life of the monks and bypass the residence of the patriarch.

Address: St. Vladimir’s Skete, Main monastery road, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

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Ascension Chapel.

Ascension Chapel

Chapel of Ascension.

The Chapel of Ascension on Valaam is a sacred representation of the temple of the Ascension of the Lord, built on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the place where Jesus Christ “ascended to heaven in the flesh”. The initiator of recreating the circumstances of the main events of the New Testament in his cloister was Abbot Mauritius of the Savior Transfiguration Monastery. On his return from the Holy Land, he renamed the Lake of Lees into the Dead Sea, and the rivers were called Cedron and Jordan. The rocky ridge near the shore of Little Nikon Bay became Mount of Olives.

The beautiful five-domed Church of the Ascension was abandoned after 1940. It was restored from the ruins according to the survived sketches. Facade of the chapel is decorated with rich carvings, blue domes are topped with gilded spheres and crosses.

Services in the chapel are not very frequent, but the flow of pilgrims to the holy place hasn’t stopped.

Address: Chapel of the Ascension, Main monastery road, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Gethsemane hermitage

skete Gefsimanski

The skete of Gethsemane.

The hermitage was founded in the beginning of the last century by order of the hegumen of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery Mauritius, who after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, decided to make the center of “Russian Jerusalem”. The Gethsemane Skete replicates the garden of the same name in Jerusalem, where Christ prayed before He suffered on the Cross.

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The buildings, abandoned during the Soviet era, have recently been restored and monastic life has resumed. The hermitage complex includes the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The architecture of the structure uses the colors of the Virgin Mary: blue roof is combined with the yellow walls. The interior is decorated with a carved iconostasis of cypress wood.

Hieromonk Timon (Pitkevich), a confessor of the “old style” in the Schema Michael, lived in the Gethsemane Skete in the early 1920s.

Address: Gefsimanskiy hermitage, Main monastic road, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Igumen cemetery

Igumen Cemetery

Igumen cemetery.

One and a half kilometers from Mount Tabor is the Igumenskoe cemetery. Here in the XIX century, in the impenetrable forest, the schema monk Nicholas settled down. Emperor Alexander I himself came to him for a blessing. On his grave there is a granite cross. Nearby is a church in the name of the Venerable Fathers.

In 2011 in the Igumensky cemetery was placed a cross in memory of the crippled soldiers of World War II, who lived out their days in Valaamsky boarding school. Their names are carved in gold letters on the granite wall.

The cemetery church was the last church consecrated by Fr. Damaskin, who ruled over Valaam for more than forty years. The hegumen is buried at the northern altar wall. Nearby rest his students and followers.

Address: Igumenskoe cemetery, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

St. Nicholas Skete

Nikolsk skete

Skete of St. Nicholas.

In the middle of XVIII century the hermitage served as a customs office. Ships and boats entering the island were inspected here. Alcoholic beverages were poured out and tobacco was burned. Well-preserved St. Nicholas Church was built in the middle of the XIX century. Above the entrance is a wooden bas-relief with the image of St. Nicholas. The octagonal hipped roof is painted blue. The dome and cross on it are gilded. The interior decorations were not restored intentionally, to preserve their authenticity as much as possible.

In the wintertime, services are held in the house church, consecrated in the name of St. John of Damascus. It is on the second floor of the building where the monks live.

Address: Nikolsky Skete, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Alexander Svirsky Skete

Skete of Alexander Svirsky

The skete of Alexander Svirsky.

The Svirsky Skete is located on the secluded Holy Island of Valaam, the history of which began 500 years ago. Here, among the rocks, in a carved out cave monk Alexander Svirsky lived. After his death a bowed cross was erected at the entrance to the grotto.

In the middle of XIX century hegumen Damaskin founded a hermitage on the island. When the monastery was evacuated to Finland, the church was destroyed.

Now the hermitage is restored. To the cave, where he lived and prayed Alexander Svirsky, leads cut into the rock stairs. At the foot of the ancient cross stands a stone bas-relief of a monk.

Wooden church of the hermitage was built without a single nail. Only bells are made of metal. Services are held every Sunday.

Address: The hermitage of Alexander Svirsky, o. Svyatye, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Chapel of St. Xenia of Petersburg

Chapel of St. Xenia of Petersburg

Chapel of Xenia of St. Petersburg.

The Chapel of Xenia of St. Petersburg was erected in 2015. An interesting story associated with it, testifies how much care is taken on Valaam to preserve the harmony of the local landscape. First, the architects made a life-size model of the chapel and put it in place. Abbot Pankraty, sailing in a boat on Monastery Bay, evaluated the architecture. According to the notes, the roof of the chapel had been lowered somewhat.

The elegant structure of white Carrara marble can be admired from afar and up close. The interior of the chapel is decorated with delightful mosaic icons.

Address: Chapel of St. Xenia of Petersburg, Antonievskaya road, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

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Konevsky hermitage

Konevsky skete

Konevsky skete.

Quiet and picturesque hermitage on the shores of Konevskie or Igumen lakes stands at a distance from the main monastery road. The miracle-working icon of the Mother of God is kept here.

It was built in the first quarter of the 19th century. Here, in a lonely cell, lived a hermit monk Damaskin. Later, when he became hegumen, he founded a hermitage in the name of Konevskaya icon of the Mother of God. Unfortunately, in the last century, the buildings were razed to the ground. They were restored only in 2004.

Konevsky skete is the smallest in size on the Valaam Islands. Here the monk Aref, who used to live in the hermitage of the Forerunner, spends his days in prayer.

Address: Konevsky skete, Main monastery road, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Monastery’s bay

Monastery bay

Monastery’s bay.

The piers of Monastyrska Bay, which runs deep into the island of Valaam, are rarely empty. This is the place of departure for boats and boats that take sightseers to the sketes on other islands. If you wish, you can rent a golf cart with a driver or electric bikes and ride around the island on your own. The rental shop is located across from the pier.

Three marvelous chapels, different in architectural style, stand on the shores of the bay. The Pokrovskaya chapel has a white hipped roof, and the Annunciation chapel has a sloping blue dome. The chapel of the icon of the Mother of God stands out for its bright coloring and openwork elements. A cobblestone road and stone stairs lead from the wharf to the central estate of the Valaam Monastery.

As you approach the bay, you can see a monument to St. Andrew. According to legend, he landed here on his way to Novgorod. The preacher persuaded the local wise men to remove the ancient pagan temple and set up a stone cross.

GPS coordinates: 61°23’19.0 N 30°56’28.4 E.

Big Nikonov Bay

Great Nikonov Bay

Big Nikonov Bay.

Big Nikonov Bay is the main pier for big cruise ships. From here begins the tour “New Jerusalem”, which includes a tour of the Ascension and Gethsemane hermitages, Poklonnyi Cross. This is the most popular tour among tourists. The bay is notable for its large size. The picturesque coastline is protected from storms by a chain of small islands.

There is an observation deck on Mount Nikonovskaya from which tourists can admire the beautiful view of the Ladoga.

Address: Pier, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Natural lookout point on Mount Yeleon

Mount of Olives observation deck

An observation point on Mount Yeleon.

Tourists who are looking for something to see on Valaam on their own, the guides point in the direction of Mount Eleon on Valaam. It is a particularly revered place for pilgrims, a spiritual reflection of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, where Jesus Christ ascended. There is a beautiful wooden chapel of the Ascension on the top of the mountain.

There is an observation deck nearby. To get here, you have to go to the Gethsemane Monastery and turn left. It is impossible to get lost – the only path will lead to an amazing place, where you can see a stunning panorama of Lake Ladoga.

The impression that Valaam makes from the height of Mount of Olives will stay in your memory for a lifetime.

GPS coordinates: 61°22’18.6 N 30°54’05.3 E.

Skitsky island

Skete Island

Skete island.

The second largest island of the archipelago is connected to the larger island by a road and a bridge. It can be reached on foot, by golf cart or bicycle. There is a skit of All Saints, which gave its name to a plot of land on Ladoga, an area of 2.77 square kilometers.

The skit island is very hilly and covered in coniferous forests. On one of the roadside rocks is a memorial sign “This road was made in 1845”. Near the road stands “pine Shishkin. This talented artist wrote his famous landscapes.

Natural attraction of the island is a century-old oak alley, planted by monks.

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