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Valaam monastery.

09The island of Valaam is situated in the northern part of Lake Ladoga, in about 40 km away from its shores. It is surrounded by more than 50 islands which make up an archipelago. The area of Valaam which is the biggest island in the archipelago is 28 sq.km. The area of the island of Skitsky which is the biggest in the archipelago next to Valaam is 4 sq.km.

In the end of XVIII century when all the wooden buildings had become ramshackle they decided to replace wooden edifices with stone ones. Monk of the Sarovskaya desert Nazary was assigned as a builder in the monastery of Valaam. It was by his project that the plan of the buildings was made and he headed the construction of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration and of the monastery’s “inner quadrangle”. The Cathedral was sanctified in 1794.

All the buildings of the monastery ensemble were made of bricks produced on the island. From 1785 till 1801 the inner quadrangle of the monastery was built, the Church of the Assumption was sanctified in 1785 and Church named after St Nicolas – in 1793. They also built two stone chapels.

Since 1801 Innokenty became father superior of the monastery and under his leadership they began to erect the outer quadrangle of the monastery. The stone church of Peter and Paul above the Holy Gates was built and sanctified in 1809. A stone hospital with a hospital church named after the life-giving spring was under construction (sanctified in 1814). A stone chapel named after St Nicolas was built by the bay entry on Krestovy island in 1809. By 1811 all the buildings within the monastery were made of stone.

07A new stage of the monastery’s development began in 1830s. It was connected with the figure of father superior Damaskin who in 1839 became abbot and eagerly took hold of the construction. They built ensembles of cells bound with each other and with the monastery, laid roads, erect chapels and wayside crosses, dug canals, and constructed bridges. An integrated landscape-architectural complex was formed. At the same time they widely began to plant valuable and rare for the North trees: fir and larch alleys, cedar and oak groves.
All the edifices on Valaam since 1840s are severed in so called “Russian style”. The monastery authorities dragged experienced architects including outstanding A.M. Gornostayev in the construction. As V. Stasov said, he was strong because continuing the traditions of Russian architecture he did not imitate, but basing on comprehension of the national art’s spirit tried to develop it, revealing fertility of his own style and artistic intuition. The most remarkable and characteristic building of A.M. Gornostayev on Valaam is the Church of St Nicolas the Wonder-worker on Krestovy island (sanctified in 1853). The church is situated on the top of a low hill. This is a stone tabernacular two-tiered temple, the first tier is a tetrahedron with skewed angles, another one is an octahedron. The top is an octagon tabernacle with a head decorated with longitudinal ribs running from the angles of the octahedron to the top. “All together, as V. Stasov wrote, makes up an erection which is one of the most beautiful and original churches of our country”. Alexandre Dumas père having visited Valaam in the end of 1850s was completely fascinated with the church: "A little architectural masterpiece", "creation of the best Russian architect", "real treasure concerning both decoration and artistic merits"…

Many edifices were built according to the projects of A.M. Gornostayev – the church of the All Saints cell on the island Skitsky, the church of Alexander Svirsky on the Svyatoy (Holy) island, the church of the Forerunners cell on the Forerunners island (old name of the island is Sernichan), the chapel of Madonna’s Sign, the complex of the All Saints cell, the Winter Hotel, the Water-supply house, the cell building on Krestovy (by that time Nikolsky) island.

By 1889 ther stood seven cells with cell buildings and churches on the Valaam islands. The churches of the All Saints and Nikolsky cells were made of stone, and the churches of Alexander Svirsky, John the Baptist (Predtechensky island), the Prophet Ilya (Lembos island), Konevsky and Avraamy Rostovsky (Emelyanov isalnd) were made of wood.

Since 1881 when Ionafan became father superior wide construction of economic buildings began. They built barns, warehouses, a stone cattle yard with a farm, pitch factory and a tannery, another brick factory with railway from the bay. The latest technical devices and appliances were widely used under the construction.

DSCN0915In the end of 1880s they decided to dismantle the old "Nazaryevsky" cathedral and to erect a more spacious temple on its place – already in the middle of XIХ century the cathedral did not have space for numerous pilgrims. The cathedral was laid on the 30th of June, 1887. The project of the grandiose five-headed cathedral with a 60 meter tall bell-tower was prepared by architects G.I. Karpov and A.N. Silin, since 1891 the construction was guided by N.D. Prokofyev. The lower church of the new Cathedral of the Transfiguration was sanctified in the name of the Reverends Sergiy and Herman of Valaam in 1892, the upper church was sanctified in 1896 in honour of God’s Transfiguration.

In 1895 they began to build a new cell on Tihvinsky isalnd (sanctified in 1897), in 1896 they built the Sergiyevsky cell on Sergiyevsky Island (Puutsaari is another name of this island). The church was sanctified in 1899 in honour of the Reverends Sergiy and Herman.
In 1901 they began to erect the church of St. Alexander Nevsky on Suskujansaari Island (Hermanovsky Island).
The third floor was built on the outer brothers’ buildings of the central monastery ensemble. The church of the Revival (New Jerusalem’s) cell on Valaam Island was sanctified in 1906.

The Hefsimansky cell was raised in 1911, in 1917 the last, thirteenth Smolensky cell in memory of heroes of the First World War was built.
After 1917 the territory occupied by the monastery was ceded to Finland. A Finnish artillery garrison was quartered on the island; the majority of cells was closed due to shortening number of brothers, in other cells religious services were conducted in reduced way.
In 1940 under the terms of the peace treaty Valaam was retroceded to the Soviet Union. The monastery was evacuated to Finland and continued in a place Henavesi under the name of New Valaam.

P5190034Since the summer of 1940 there was a cabin boys’ school on Valaam, in 1950s – a dormitory for war invalids and aged persons. All this time neither nature nor architectural monuments were under protection of the state. In 1965 Valaam was declared as a nature reserve, the architectural monuments reamined on the sidelines. A period of restoration began only with formation of the Valaam preserve museum in 1979 which gained the status of state in 1984.

On the 19th of September, 1989 the Council of Ministers of Karelia made decision to transfer the objects of the former Valaam monastery to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The restored monastery revives and preserves the monuments.