I have been thinking about going to Konevets for a long time. I was impressed by the stories of friends who came here as “savages”, inspired by beautiful photographs, excited the imagination of the legend of the mysterious Horse-Stone. And when the restoration work began, I wanted to wait until the end, so that I could immediately see the cathedral in all its glory.
Finally it all came together! At 8.45 on a gloomy October Monday, I board a sightseeing bus at the Ozerki metro station. Hooray! A journey begins to a fabulous, and this is how it seems to me in my dreams, an island in Lake Ladoga.
First, of course, a route excursion about the history and nature of the region and a story about how the Nativity of the Mother of God monastery arose on a small island .
First stop on the way
I want to go on a tour!
On the new Priozerskaya highway, we very quickly reach the bridge over the Vuoksa in the village of Losevo. Here I was surprised to learn that the famous Losevsky rapids are the work of human hands. More than a hundred years ago, they tried to make the channel navigable.
We carried out a number of works, and then they hoped for nature – they say, the flow of water will bring the matter to the end. However, more than a century has passed, and the only vessels that we see in the channel are kayaks, kayaks and rafts.
We pass directly over the rough water of the rapids. The bridge, which has become much wider after the renovation, is made in the colors of the Russian flag. In the dark, the ferry is beautifully illuminated. In the evening, on the way back, the bridge will appear in all its splendor. But in daylight, you can see what is around.
Upcoming excursions to the island of Konevets
A few minutes later the bus stops at the temple of the Konevskaya Icon of the Mother of God in the village of Sapernoe. The territory is surrounded by a high wooden fence, but the gates are hospitably open.
The guide is in a hurry to dispel the myth and informs that this community is not a courtyard of the Konevets monastery. She complains that the pilgrimage service is often asked about the rehabilitation of drug addicts. However, the monastery is not doing this now. On this issue, you can just contact the temple of the village of Sapernoe.
A service is being held in the church: chants are heard from there. The church is small but very beautiful. Everyone stops to look at details and take photos. Those who wish can come in to pray, light a candle.
The place is intended for meeting a large number of tourists: toilets are equipped, there is a cafe in the church shop. A friendly mother at the counter offers delicious coffee, cheese cakes from local cottage cheese, fresh pies.
Breakfast costs me 170 rubles: excellent custard coffee and cheesecake. Fans of farm products buy eggs and cottage cheese, which are displayed right there in refrigerators with transparent doors.
Time flies by quickly and the tourists cheerfully continue their journey along the Karelian Isthmus, cheered up after coffee. By the way, the track is great here. An excellent asphalt road has been laid up to the Vladimirskaya Bay. Those who have been here before will not recognize familiar places.
We continue our way to Vladimirskaya Bay
Previously, it was easy to pass the turn to Plodovoye: an ordinary dirt road going off the highway to the right. Now smooth asphalt spreads to the very shore of Ladoga. Special signs indicate the way to the monastery. This monastery used to be a place of solitude. Now it is a place of pilgrimage and an advertised tourist site.
When Lake Otradnoye is shown on the starboard side, there are only a few minutes left. Suddenly the forest ends, and amazed exclamations are heard in the cabin. Where there used to be an unkempt coast and an old pier, now comes a civilization with urbanization. Now there is a spacious parking lot for vehicles, a gas station with a large pavilion, where there is a spacious cafe with a children’s play area, a shop and places of need – toilets.
If you face the lake, on the right hand is the still closed river station, on the left is a large new hotel building. Construction work is still underway, but it is clear that they are at the completion stage. Surprised, we look around, take pictures, exchange impressions.
Acquaintance with the bay and the glorious Konevets fleet
Since the trip is an excursion and pilgrimage, the group goes to the temple. It is located just a few steps away, in a wooden building of a former kindergarten, closed back in the 90s. The building looks dilapidated from the outside, but it is rather cozy inside.
There is a bell rack next to the temple. The bells were removed from the bell tower of the Konevets Monastery. The old men found shelter here, and there is now a new set on the bell tower. Modern bells were cast by order of the Rosneft company. However, everything else is also built on oil money, which is reported without false modesty about every 5 seconds with the help of inscriptions and photographs.
Before boarding the ship, we are offered to inspect the hovercraft. They will take pilgrims to the island on the ice. Such transport has long been used in Kizhi, which makes it possible to visit the reserve all year round. Now the shrines of the Konevets Monastery will be available permanently. Adjusted for the weather, of course.
Brand new boats, though with their pillows deflated, are standing on the asphalt behind a low fence. Eh, ride this with a breeze! But for this you have to come when the ice is strong enough on Ladoga.
During the navigation season, the island is visited by a brand new handsome catamaran “Holy Prince Vladimir” and a proud cruiser “Konevets” – this is what the director of the museum called the veteran ship. For catamarans there are restrictions on the height of the wave, therefore, in bad weather, the watch is carried out by the “Konevets”, tested by many years of service.
Departure to the island
Water on the morning Ladoga looks like a mirror. We were lucky. We take pictures next to the “Prince” and load on board. The passenger compartment is spacious, equipped with soft armchairs with folding tables in the backs. We admire the Ladoga landscapes through large windows.
There is a small disadvantage when traveling on a catamaran: it is inconvenient to photograph the arrival. The bow of the vessel is raised and fenced with handrails that limit the view. They are not allowed to go on deck. It’s a pity! Such beauty around.
Half an hour pass unnoticed. A film about the island is shown on plasma screens installed so that it would be convenient for all passengers to watch. So you are already enriched with useful knowledge on the monastery land.
Local guides carefully monitor the weather forecast. Rain was promised for lunch, so first we go along the tourist route.
First impressions and preparation for the walking route
The island is quite small. Its area is 10 sq. km. As the guide Kira said, on the map it resembles a tavern. To see the sights, we have to go through the island, from coast to coast. Basically, the path lies through the forest.
The first thing we see, getting off the ship, is a monument to Arseny Konevsky. The sculpture depicts the arrival of the holy elder to the island by boat. The monument was created for the 625th anniversary of the monastery. It was consecrated by Patriarch Kirill himself, who visited the island in 2019.
We go into a small chapel at the pier. We learn that earlier any person could come to the monastery for three days, live in a guest house, receive free food and visit the temple. During this time, the guest had to make a decision: stay in the monastery as a novice or leave the island.
We go to the guest house for a while. Women who come in jeans or trousers are offered to wear special skirts. By the way, they save well from the cold. The weather was quite cool.
An interesting point: at the pier, tourists are greeted by a fluffy “customs” – a big black cat. It can be seen that he feels himself the master. Calmly bypasses the arrivals, examines, sniffs, tries to check the contents of bags and backpacks.
We are warned that you can take pictures everywhere, even inside the temple. You can’t just take pictures of people in monastic attire. This is strictly prohibited. But the brethren on the island are very small, so it is easy to observe the ban.
From a distance we admire the restored temple and leave to the left. We rise up the hill to the building of the White Hotel. As we were explained, richer pilgrims stayed here. Renovation work is almost complete in the building, and rooms smelling of fresh paint are already awaiting guests. There are rooms with private facilities in the room or on the floor.
About beauty and good deeds
The guide says that almost the entire island is covered with coniferous forest. But under our feet we have a carpet of golden leaves, around lemon-yellow maples and spreading oaks. How so?
It turns out that all deciduous trees are planted by monks. The oaks took root well, grew large and strong. But maples remained thin, as if eternally young trees.
We go around the monastery square and go along the paved path to the forest. In the distance you can see a red brick building – originally a house for workers, those who came to the monastery to work.
More recently, before the final reconstruction of the monastery, a children’s camp for children with disabilities was located here. The children were gaining strength and spirituality here, helping the brothers as much as they could. Now the children are not here. And it was decided to make a museum in the house.
There is also no rehabilitation center for people who have stopped using drugs. All this was done by the former abbot of the monastery. Now there are other orders. Sorry. After all, this is such a godly deed: taking care of the sick and the weak.
Island travel is a real adventure
Already in the forest, at a fork in the road, there is a charming chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary . This graceful structure is the most beautiful on the island. In 1899, it was erected on the site of a huge worship cross. They say it was broken by the wind many times. After another storm, a small wooden chapel was built on the site of the destroyed cross.
The cobbled path leads not to the Emerald City, but to the helipad for important guests. And the group on a dirt road washed out by rains goes to the Kazan skete.
A walk in the forest is real happiness. In addition, it is safe here: there are no large wild animals, and the snakes disappeared a long time ago, when evil spirits were expelled from the Horse-Stone .
However, you will learn about all the wonders yourself when you come on a tour. And that in the Kazan skete on the Holy Mountain two monks live in solitude and you can enter there only once a week. And about the amazing transformation of a giant boulder Horse-stone from a pagan temple into an Orthodox shrine.
There is one place on the route that is difficult for the elderly: a dilapidated staircase leading to the Serpent Mountain. The ascent is not long, but very steep. One woman in the group even wanted to turn back, although it was already far away to return, as her legs were very sore. But, of course, they helped her up, and she also saw a tiny chapel set on a giant stone.
About the meal according to the monastery charter
A little tired and hungry travelers are warmly invited to dinner. Everyone is happy to be warm and ready to have a snack.
Lunch in the monastery refectory reminded me of a children’s camp: everyone is together at a long table, hearty, but unpretentious food, and they are not allowed to talk.
The monks in the Konevsk monastery never eat meat. This time there was a salad of carrots, similar to Korean, fish soup with barley, buckwheat porridge, fish with vegetables and dried fruit compote. After a long walk around the island in cool weather, lunch was eaten quickly and with appetite, no one was picky.
According to the monastery charter, food is eaten in silence, listening to instructive stories about the life of the holy righteous. Before meals and after the end of the meal – common prayer.
There are several more solid wooden tables and benches under the windows of the refectory in the courtyard. Apparently, in good weather, you can sit down here to relax, drink tea from a thermos, look at the surrounding beauty: the entrance to the church where the services are held is very close.
Tour of the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery
And now the group finds itself inside the monastery square. It is a rectangle stretching from east to west, formed by residential and household buildings. Two square towers and a bell tower, crowning the Holy Gates, the main entrance to the monastery square, rise above the two-story whitewashed cell buildings. There are temples in the towers.
Short program of one day tour to the island of Konevets
08:45 – 09:00 – Gathering the group at the bus at the metro station “Ozerki”
09:00 – Bus departure
12:00 – Arrival to Vladimirskaya bay, departure to Konevets island on comfortable ships “Holy Prince Vladimir” or m / v “Konevets”
12:40 – Arrival to the island of Konevets
13:00 – Sightseeing tour of the island
Visit to the Monastery square and the main Temple, where the relics of the Monk Arseny Konevsky and the miraculous icon of the Konevskaya Mother of God are kept
14:00 – Lunch
14:30 – A small concert of the monastery’s singers, visiting the Assumption and Nikolskaya chapels, the chapel on the Horse-stone
18:00 – Boarding the ship, departure to Vladimirskaya Bay
21:00 – Approximate time for the return of the bus to St. Petersburg (metro station “Ozerki”)
The area is small. Inside the square, there is a feeling of comfort and security. In the center is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is made in yellow and white colors and even in bad weather it seems lit by the sun. The main shrines of the monastery are preserved here: a list of the miraculous icon of the Konevskaya Mother of God and a cancer with the relics of the Monk Arseny of Konevsky.
The temple is very beautiful. The restoration work has just ended. Smells like fresh plaster and wax. Stoves have survived. Even last winter, the temple was heated with wood. Now there is central heating. It’s very convenient, although old-timers miss the cozy stove spirit.
A fascinating story about the loss and miraculous acquisition of shrines, about why the original icon of the Mother of God will never return to Konevets, and the amazing history of the monastery, of course, should be heard from the lips of a passionate professional.
There was no service on the day of the excursion, but a concert of spiritual chants was organized for us in the upper church (on the second floor). The temple boggles the imagination of both pilgrims and tourists. The beautiful voices of the singers soar under the sky-blue vaults and dissolve into the air, and the light of thin wax candles is reflected in the golden frames. Here you can pray, write a note about health or repose, just shut up and think about life and about God.
Cost of excursions and tours to the island of Konevets
- One-day tour to the island of Konevets – from 1 600 rubles per person ;
- Two-day tour to the island of Konevets – from 5,900 rubles per person ;
- A three-day tour to the island of Konevets – from 7,500 rubles per person .
When and how much better to come to Konevets
The wonderful excursion ends, but there is still time for a walk and a photo report. About an hour is left before the catamaran leaves for the mainland, and you can devote it to an independent walk. Take another look at the beautiful building of the cathedral and the bell tower, go out from the courtyard and admire the slender pines and a long sandy spit, walk to the pier and face the Ladoga wind.
It was a one-day excursion – a beautiful day that passed unnoticed. If you like to explore new places in more detail, want to visit services, walk along forest paths, examine in detail and capture in your memory magnificent landscapes for a long time, choose multi-day tours to Konevets.
Please note that this is the Leningrad Region and Ladoga. The wind is always here. It rains often. So a windbreaker, raincoat or umbrella is a must. It’s good that running out of the house, I grabbed an umbrella. Of course it was raining.
Now the island can be visited at a convenient time of the year, and not only in the summer months. And the nature of the Karelian Isthmus will be able to charm you with colorful autumn, snow-white winter, and gentle spring colors.
The results of the trip in numbers and some practical tips
The whole trip took me 14.5 hours. Of these, 3 hours is the time to get to the bus departure point and return home after the tour. And another 5 hours – a bus and a catamaran. The total travel time is 8 hours. On the way there – an excursion along the track. The other way is just a transfer.
It will be hard for small children on such a long excursion, but you can safely take schoolchildren with you. You need comfortable shoes and clothes that protect from wind and rain, a bottle of water: the children are thirsty.
I deliberately didn’t take anything other than a portable camera, an umbrella, and a couple of sweets to travel light. If I were traveling with my family, then, of course, I would have taken a thermos with tea, chocolate and several sandwiches.
On the trip, not counting the cost of the voucher, about 800 rubles were spent: for the road, coffee and “miscellaneous”.
Practical tip: take care of cash in small bills and coins. This will save you awkward situations. The monastery has its own rules, there is a donation system. You write notes – put 60 rubles each. for each in a special box. It is stipulated that up to 10 names can be entered in one note. It will be easier for you if you change your money in advance.
After the concert, you will be offered to thank the singers, and this will have to be done publicly: at the exit from the room, you will have to put a “gratitude” on a tray held by one of the monks. And then adults begin to get embarrassed, get lost, feverishly look for the amount befitting the occasion.
It is clear that donation is voluntary. But it was evident how uncomfortable the sightseers felt when they had no money.
By the way, there are donation boxes in every chapel, so you will need coins.
If you are not a pilgrim, but an ordinary tourist, just remember that you don’t go to someone else’s monastery with your own charter, follow simple rules and enjoy your vacation.