The Valaam Monastery, or Valamo Monastery is a stauropegic Orthodox monastery located on Valaam island in Lake Ladoga. It is not clear when the monastery was founded. As the cloister is not mentioned in documents before the 16th century, different dates - from 10th to 15th centuries - have been expounded. According to one tradition, the monastery was founded by a 10th century Greek monk, Sergius, and his Karelian companion, Herman. Heikki Kirkinen inclines to date the foundation of the monastery to the 12th century. Contemporary historians consider even this date too early. According to the scholarly consensus, the monastery was founded at some point towards the end of the 14th century. John H. Lind and Michael C. Paul date the founding to between 1389 and 1393 based on various sources, including the Tale of the Valaamo Monastery, a 16th century manuscript, which has the monastery founded during the archiepiscopate of Ioann II of Novgorod. Whatever the truth may be, the Valaam 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 power struggle between Russians and Swedes pushed the border eastwards in the 16th century; in 1578 the monastery was attacked and numerous monks and novices were killed by the Lutheran Swedes. The monastery was desolate between 1611 and 1715 after another attack of the Swedes, the buildings being burnt to the ground and the Karelian border between Russia and Sweden being drawn through Lake Ladoga. In the 18th century the monastery was magnificently restored, and in 1812 it came under the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland.
In 1917, Finland became independent, and the Finnish Orthodox Church became autonomous under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, as previously it had been a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Valaam was the most important monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The liturgic language was changed from Church Slavonic to Finnish, and the liturgic calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. These changes led to bitter decade-long disputes in the monastic community of Valaam.
The territory was fought over by the Soviet Union and Finland during World War II. Due to theWinter War, the monastery was evacuated in 1940, when 150 monks settled in Heinävesi inFinland. This community still exists as New Valamo Monastery in Heinävesi. Having received evacuees from the Konevitsa monastery and Petsamo monastery, it is now the only monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church.
From 1941 to 1944, during the Continuation War, an attempt was made to restore the monastery buildings at Old Valaam, but later the island served as a Soviet military base. Since the original Valaam Monastery was bequeathed back to the Orthodox Church in 1989, it has been enjoying the personal patronage of Patriarch Alexey II, who frequented the cloister when a child. The monastery, whose buildings have been meticulously restored, has gained significant legal power over the island, in a push to return to a state of spiritual seclusion. After years of fruitless legal proceedings with the monastery, many residents of the island chose to leave, though a few still remain.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.