April 9, 2014

1056 RUSSIA (Republic of Karelia) - The Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral in Valamo archipelago

Valaam (also known by the Finnish name Valamo) is an archipelago in the northern portion of Lake Ladoga, best known for its more than 200 relicts of the past. In the 12th century, the islands were a part of the Novgorod Republic. In the 17th century they were captured by Sweden, but Russia reconquered them less than a century later. When the Grand Duchy of Finland was set up as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire, Valaam became part of Finland. In 1917, they became a part of newly independent Finland, but it was acquired by the USSR after the Winter War and Continuation War.

The main architectural heritage of the islands is the Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral, the main cathedral of the Valaam Monastery, or Valamo Monastery, a stauropegic Orthodox monastery located on the main island. According to one tradition, the monastery was founded by a 10th-century Greek monk, Sergius, and his Karelian companion, Herman, but it was mentioned in documents only in the 16th century. Whatever the truth may be, the monastery was a northern outpost of Eastern Orthodoxy against the heathens and, later, a western outpost against Catholic Christianity from Tavastia, Savonia and (Swedish) Karelia. The monastery of Valaam has a unique tradition of singing, called even the Valaam chant, that combines some features of Byzantine and Znamenny chants. The monastery has a professional five-strong male-voice choir which tours the world to raise money for the on-going restoration of the buildings. Some of its music can be heard at the monastery's website.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a large series issued for XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014, about which I wrote here.

Valaam Monastery - Official website
Valaam Monastery - Wikipedia

sender: Max Maksimov (direct swap)
sent from Petrozavodsk (Republic of Karelia / Russia), on 12.01.2014
photo: M. Skrypkyna

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