VALAAM

Desolation


Desolation.

The Old Valaam was destined for many years of oblivion and gradual decay In 1940 it became a navy school, in 1949 - a state farm, from 1952 till 1984 - a boarding house for disabled soldiers and elderly people, and the Resurrection skete housed a tourist base. In a couple of decades the new owners destroyed what had been created during centuries. The monastery buildings did not have even formal state protection. 'The stone sketes were torn down for the sake of bricks, and the wooden ones were used as easily accessible fire-wood', writes a contemporary writer. Konevsky, Ilyinsky, Tikh-vinsky sketes, as well as Nazarievsky Hermitage and all wooden chapels on the islands (about twenty) perished. The last chapel, Pokrovskaja, burnt down in 1982, but later, like Vladimirskaja, was erected anew.

Tracks of desolation.
 
The profanation of the sacred place ruined the souls of those living on the island after 1949, probably the first non-monastery people to live here in several centuries of Valaam history, except for the time of Swedish occupation. As Abbot Andronik (Trubatchev), the prior of the monastery since 1990, noted, for the first time the source of destruction was not 'wars between countries, but the devastation of one's own nest, self-ruining and self-extermination'. Of no help either was the establishing of museums on the island: a natural reserve in 1965 and historical and architectural reserve in 1979. Tourist attraction sites were being designed at that time with an aerial rope-way, an airport, and a new settlement for 1,000 people. It would have killed Valaam, but luckily, those plans were never realized.


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VALAAM