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Escaping the Rain into Valamo Monastery

Travelblog Gone with the Wine Blog

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Escaping the Rain into Valamo Monastery

Paula Gaston

Our first stop on our Finland road trip was Valamo Monastery. We were a little bit unlucky when it started raining right while parking our car in the parking lot. At the same time part of the monastery also closed since it was 5 pm. We had only planned to stop there shortly, so we didn't mind that all of the buildings were not open. So we pulled out our new umbrellas we got for this trip and headed to the monastery area.

New Valamo is an Orthodox monastery in Heinävesi, Finland. The monastery was originally located in archipelago of Valaam in Lake Ladoga, but it got evacuated to Finland after the Second World War when Soviet Union took over the area. In 1940 the Old Valamo Monastery got completely destroyed with its valuable property. Luckily, some of the things had already been moved away. New monastery was opened at Heinävesi and 150 monks moved in from the Lake Ladoga area. A church was also built to New Valamo. Slowly, over the years, the amount of monks started to decrease and the buildings were left to decay. Later the monastery experienced a revival. New monks started to renovate the monastery and built a new church, which was opened in 1977. Today the monastery is self-sufficient. It runs a cultural center, a hotel, cafe and a souvenir shop. Among the tourism, the monastery gets income from distilling whiskey.   

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Today, at Lade Ladoga where old Valamo used to be, there is also a new monastery. This monastery is also called Valamo, but it is now part of Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery was re-opened in 1989.

We were not able to visit the cultural center since it had just closed. They showcase a historical exhibition, and some other exhibitions that change from time to time. Also the main church was closed but we were welcomed to the service which was about to start in an hour. The brotherhood of Valamo welcomes everyone to join their church services. We started our visit from the restaurant Trapesa since we really needed some coffee, and also the baby needed to be fed. As a pleasant surprise, they also had a great family room in the lobby of the restaurant.

My husband was interested into see the wines and the whiskey that is distilled at Valamo. So we headed to their wine and souvenir store; Tuohus. After my he realised that all the wine is brewed from berries, not from wine grapes, he lost his interest quickly. Finland is not warm enough to grow wine grapes but berries grow during the summer. 

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Even though our visit to Valamo was short, I can see how some people come back there just to escape the busy life, and to meditate. It was interesting to visit a place I had heard already in the school. Valamo is definitely part of Finnish history and for sure an important part of Orthodox Church of Finland.