Russia’s Island’s of Peace


Bolshoy Solovetsky island

Due to its remoteness, Solovki began to be a place of exile. In the sixteenth century the Moscow government required the monastery to assume new duties as a prison and border fortress, manned by a large non-monastic force of soldiers. With its industrial base, mainly in salt production, products of the sea, and with a large influx of pilgrims the monastery became very wealthy. This in turn attracted pirates and the interest of the countries of western Europe. With the greater wealth, some of the monks saw the institutional changes as an attack on their spiritual life. These ascetics, led by Eliazar Servinkov (Anzersky) moved to the nearby island of Anzer. Among the party of monks was Nikon who would later become the controversial Patriarch of Moscow. In 1547, Savvaty and Zosima were glorified by the Church of Russia.


Valaam Island

Valaam Island is the largest in the Valaam archipelago of the North-Western part of Ladoga Lake.

Valaam Monastery has existed for more than a thousand years. It is the oldest monastery in Russia. Besides the Monastery you can visit here many cells some of which are still inhabited. In spite of all the historical vicissitudes that have been unfavorable for the thriving of its monastic life, it has survived as a living witness to monasticism in Russia.

Rigorous beauty of Valaam nature with its mighty coniferous forests, rocky shore, many of picturesque bays, and monuments of church architecture will make an unforgettable impression on you.


Stolbny island

Having flown in a helicopter over the breathtakingly beautiful lakes, rivers and forests, you will come to visit one of the Russian sacred places – Nilov-Stolbny Monastery.

The monastery is named after Saint Nilus and the Stolbny island in lake Seliger, where Nilus lived for 40 years and was buried in 1554. His relics are still stored in one of the churches, and the pilgrims pray to him asking for help.

The saint hermit led an ascetic way of life, spending his days in prayer and labor.

Many people came to him for homilies and he led them to repentance. With his prayer Nilus saved those who dared to swim in the lake during the storms.

In the face of death, he predicted to his confessor Sergy that a monastery will be built on the spot where he lived. And so it happened: coenobite Herman, who revered Nilus, founded a monastery here and became its first Farther-Superior. In the late 16th century celibate priest Herman and hagiographer Philophey Pirogov, a coenobite of the Gerasim-Boldinsky Monastery, wrote the St. Nilus Hagiography. There are five basic editions of the Hagiography, which are stored in various museums, the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg and the State Archive of Tver oblast.

The Nilov-Stolbny Monastery stays a source of spiritual consolation and a popular pilgrimage destination for Orthodox believers from all over Russia.


Kamenny Island

Spaso-Kamenny monastery  was founded on an island in Kubenskoe lake in the 13th century by a prince who was miraculously saved on this island during a terrible storm. The name of the island was Kamenny (“stony”), and the monastery was dedicated to the Savior. The teacher of St Nilus of Sora–St Paisy of Yaroslavl–wrote a special praise to that monastery. It was the center of monastic life in 14-15th centuries and it gave birth to many other monasteries in Russia.

So from Vologda they went to the small town of Ustie (this name means “embouchure”, because the Kubena river falls into Kubenskoe lake not far from here).


Monastery under the lake (Kalyazin/ Russia)

What looks like a strange lighthouse is actually the bell tower of Makaryevsky Monastery, most of which was flooded due to dams on the Volga River in 1939. Later they built a small artificial island around the tower


Kizhi Island

Kizhi Pogost (Russian: Кижский Погост) is a historical site dating from the 17th century on Kizhi island. The island is located on Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia (Medvezhyegorsky District), Russia. The pogost is the area inside a fence which includes two large wooden churches (the 22-dome Transfiguration Church and the 9-dome Intercession Church) and a bell-tower. The pogost is famous for its beauty and longevity, despite that it is built exclusively of wood. In 1990, it was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites[1] and in 1993 listed as a Russian Cultural Heritage site.[2]


Sviyazhsk Island

Only in 1960 Sviyazhsk was declared as a monument of Russian history and culture, and after two decades included in the draft list of such monuments of the Soviet Union. Now the island Sviyazhsk included in the provisional list of cultural and natural heritage of UNESCO. In 1997, the management of Kazan Orthodox diocese was transferred to Uspenskiy Bogoroditskiy monastery, called to revive the ancient castle, to bring to the restoration of monuments of history and culture of restorers, to raise from the ruins of the island — relic. At the same time Sviyazhsk acquiring the status of the island-town, next year, approved the concept of its revival.

 The revival of the island-town should become familiar — repentance, respect for one»s own culture and history, no matter how evolved. The revival of spirituality may be based not on destruction but on the creation


Island in Mikhailovskoye Lake

The Antonievo-Siysky Monastery, Arkhangelsk Region – It is a Russian Orthodox monastery at the distance of 160 km from Arkhangelsk, on a peninsula of Mikhailovskoye Lake. The Siya river, which flows out of the lake, has given the monastery its name.The monastery was founded in 1556 by Saint Antonio, who settled on the island with some other monks.


5 thoughts on “Russia’s Island’s of Peace

  1. This is indeed a beautiful post! I would love to fly around and look at these wonderful places – glad they have survived. I also like this “Places I’ve Been” map.

    Did monks (if that is the right term) stay continuously in them or were there stops and starts? Seem incompatible to have a prison in a monastery.


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