With its striking powder-blue domes and looming cathedral spires, set against a backdrop of dense woodlands and glassy blue waters, the Valaam Monastery makes a suitably arresting centerpiece to Valaam Island. Marooned on Lake Ladoga’s largest island, reaching the historic monastery is an adventure in itself, with scenic ferry cruises running from the mainland and thrilling helicopter rides linking it to St Petersburg.
Dating back to the late 14th-century and rebuilt several times throughout history, the Valaam Monastery is one of Russia’s most significant religious sites, once regarded as the country’s spiritual and cultural center and completely self-sufficient. Today, the vast complex centers around the exquisite Cathedral of the Transfiguration, surrounded by monks cells, chapels, workshops and farmlands, and remains a working monastery, with resident monks hosting regular services and choir recitals.
The Valaam Monastery is located on Valaam Island, Lake Ladoga, north of St Petersburg and can be reached only by boat or helicopter.