6th July 2007

Valamo

No, it isn’t the name of a fort ;) but that of a monastery. Not just any, actually, Valamo is the only orthodox monastery in the Nordics. You won’t find very old buildings there, because they used to live in that part of Karelia (Karjala) annexed by Russia during WWII, and had to move and relocate their “activities”. In fact, nowadays Valamo is in Russia, and New Valamo in Finland, in Heinävesi, located north of Savonlinna. It takes a bit over an hour of driving from there.

The trip itself is quite interesting, as this area has a lot of lakes, one of which you need to cross with a ferry, and nice and typical flowers along the road, called “Lupinus polyphyllus” (Lupiini in Finnish):

      

Before getting to the monastery, you can stop by at the convent of Lintula, but there isn’t much to see (and I think the souvenir shop was more expensive) … but the trees are really nice along the main building and behind it (sorry, it wasn’t possible to take pictures of those with the rain).

That photo is taken from the entry point, at the monastery of Valamo. The building on the right is the restaurant where I found the food interesting (but not expensive, so go ahead and get a good lunch there), as they serve both some Finnish and Russian specialities.

If you then turn left, you’ll find yourself facing the most impressive building of the monastery : the church. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of it myself, this one is from their website :

I have a few from the inside though, but I don’t want to spoil a visit, so I’ll put only one :

Anybody who has visited an orthodox church knows how highly decorated it can be. If I had to compare, I’d say that this usually is much more decorated than a catholic church. At least that is my feeling. In a catholic one, you’ll find fancy windows, perhaps some paintings ; in the orthodox, windows are not so fancy, but icons and paintings should be found in quantities, and a lot of gold colour every where. Which is actually funny if you happened to visit a Lutheran church just before, as simplicity is the policy in those, and make you feel the contrast even more …
This is from inside the old church, a simple wood building (again, I’ll put only one) :

Valamo welcomes visitors, and has two guest houses. As I found this one very typical of a Finnish building, I took a picture. You’ll find a lot of this kind of houses in the country, of different sizes of course, but same architecture, same material and often same colour too :

If you walk down to the lake, you’ll see a very curious tiny building, that might be a chapel, but I’m not sure :

The site also contains a library, a wine making factory, a couple of shops. One of these shops sell old stuff for cheap price, like wood craft and candles, and in the corner, books for 1€. You can make marvellous discoveries there, and I got “Treasure Island” in English (I had read it in French only as a child), and another book including 6 famous pieces by Shakespeare, again, in English (never read that before, so it is possible that I’ll write about it). I remember there were also books in about 5 languages. The other shop is a typical souvenir shop, with all you can imagine about such place, and more. More, like some very tasty home-made honey, or home-made wine. This wine is one of the only produced in Finland, and it is made out of berries … I took all the different variants they had ! their main one at least is really good and sweet, and has been very much enjoyed in France with my family :)

Bye bye !

This entry was posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007 at 3:16 and is filed under Finlande, in English please !, voyages. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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