Pilgrimage to Diveevo and Valaam.

May 1-16, 2016.

Visit the two most revered Russian Shrines, Diveevo Convent and Valaam Monastery, along with a trip to the holy places and cultural sites of two Russian Capitals – Moscow and St. Petersburg.


“The Best of Russia”

June 23 - July 6, 2013

Honorary Leader of the Pilgrimage: His Grace Michael (Dahulich), Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey.

Please join us in our travel to the most inspiring holy places and magnificent monuments and museums of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pskov, Novgorod and Valaam.

Please note that the following itinerary has tentative dates that may change. Updates will be posted as soon as confirmed dates will be available. Please keep checking back or contact Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky for more information. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you in our pilgrim group.



Day 1, Sunday, June 23, 2013

Group gathers at the JFK Airport.


Day 2, Monday, June 24, 2013

Arrival to St. Petersburg – Airport Pulkovo 2. Transfer to the hotel. Check in and some time to rest. Dinner at the hotel.


Day 3, Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

We will start our day with a visit to Smolenskoye Cemetery where famous Russian Saint and heavenly patron of St. Petersburg, St. Xenia is buried. After our visit to Smolenskoye Cemetery we will continue with the exploration of the State Russian Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Russian Art from its Byzantine Origins up to the present day. The museum always offers a lot of temporary exhibitions for an additional cost. Practically adjacent to the Museum stands the famous "Savior of the Spilt Blood," or Holy Resurrection Cathedral, that was built to commemorate Russian Tsar Alexander II who was mortally wounded on that very place by terrorists. Magnificent by all means, it is nicely decorated on the outside with tablets on which Tsar Alexander’s laws and orders are inscribed, along with the dates of the most important events that had taken place during his reign. The inside of the Cathedral is completely covered with mosaics. There are over 21 thousand square feet of mosaics inside and outside the Cathedral. Near by Souvenir market present wonderful opportunity to shop for presents and various memorabilia. At the end of the day we will visit Alexander-Nevsky Lavra, a beautiful monastery that at one point was one of the biggest and famous in Imperial Russia. We will tour the grounds of the Monastery, including the magnificent Cathedral of the Holy Trinity that houses relics of St. Alexander Nevsky.


Day 4, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

We will start our day by a visit to St. John of Rila Monastery on Karpovka River. It was founded by Saintly Priest John of Kronstadt. Here, in the convent he found his resting place as well. From there we will continue onto the State Hermitage, once the Winter Palace of the Russian Tsars, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Fine Arts. Countless artifacts on exhibit cover the evolution of Art from the Neolithic time and Ancient Egypt up until the beginning of the 20th century. After lunch we will visit splendidly decorated Cathedral of St. Isaac, one of the world’s largest domed Cathedrals. Never a parish church, it was built as a dedication to the Heavenly Patron of Peter the Great, St. Isaac of Dalmatia. The cathedral is very Western in style, but adorned with truly Eastern lavishness. The panoramic view of St. Petersburg from its observation deck around the dome is truly magnificent. Tonight we will embark on a cruise boat for Valaam.


Day 5, Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

One of the most famous Russian Monasteries that is located on the islands of Valaam Archipelago has a tremendous importance to all Orthodox in America. It is from here, toward the end of the 18th century that a small group of monks left on a missionary trip toward far away Alaska. For its prestige and importance monastery was nick-named the “Athos of the North”. Desecrated during the Soviet times, monastery is now largely restored and once again serves as a refuge to those who seek to serve Heavenly Master in the most perfect way. We will visit several sketes of the monastery, will see the main compound and will walk to the pristine woods of the islands.


Day 6, Friday, June 28, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Upon our return from Valaam we will continue to explore the city and its vicinity. Today, after breakfast we will start with the exploration of SS. Peter and Paul Fortress that is located in the very heart of St. Petersburg. The day when the ground was broken to build this first stronghold in the newly regained Russian lands became the birthday of St. Petersburg. After a visit to the fortress – which also serves as a final resting place for the Russian Rulers of the Romanov dynasty – we will travel by hydrofoil for about one hour to Peterhof - yet another splendid suburb of St. Petersburg. After lunch, we will Tour of the Historical State Park "Peterhof" with its world famous Golden Palace that is surrounded by a Park with arcades of golden fountains. We will finish our day in Peterhof with a stop at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, an Orthodox Architectural Masterpiece build in Neo-Russian style. This church is also famous for an interesting ceramic iconostasis and rich decoration of the interior. In the evening we will transfer to Novgorod where we will stay for two nights.


Day 7.  Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

Novgorod, is a quiet, clean, typical provincial city of Russia’s North-West. But its thousand year history is it truly unique. After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for a visit to the main attraction of Novgorod, the Medieval Kremlin. The buildings of the Novgorod Kremlin date back to the 11th -16th centuries. The most special of them all is the Cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century, and which has survived largely intact trough its thousand year history. In addition to the Cathedral, we will visit several historic and art exhibits in the museums of Kremlin. After Lunch we will visit the Market square, the central point of the Medieval city’s commerce and interaction. A number of churches in close proximity to each other serve as a tribute to the piety of Novgorod’s tradesmen. From the Market place, also known as Yaroslav’s court, we will walk down Il’ina street for a visit to Znamensky cathedral. This church was build in dedication to the famous miracle working icon, our Lady of the Sign (Znamenye), the paladin of Novgorod. The nearby Transfiguration church (13th century) still contains some of the original frescoes painted by renown Medieval iconographer Theophanes the Greek. Late in the afternoon we will visit monastery of St. Varlaam of Hutyn’. It was founded by St. Varlaam (+1192) in the 12th century and is one of the oldest and most revered pilgrim destinations in Novgorod.

In the evening an optional boat ride on Volkhov River can be organized for you to enjoy the splendid panoramas of the city.


Day 8. Sunday, June 30, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

We will start our day by attending Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Sophia

After the service we will travel to the outskirts of the city to visit St. George Monastery - arguably the oldest Russian Monastery with the Cathedral of St. George dating back to the 11th century. Then we will continue on to Vitoslavitsi, the museum of Wooden Architecture that has the finest collection of the wooden architecture of the Russian North. There are a lot of wooden churches, houses, barns and wells. These wooden monuments have been brought from various regions of Russia for preservation purposes as well as a display of a variety of wooden architectural styles. From there we will to another important medieval center of Russia – city of Pskov.


Day 9, Monday, July 1, 2013

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

Today we will start with an exploration of the Holy Trinity Cathedral situated in amidst picturesque fortifications of the Pskovan Kremlin. From there we will proceed to the state historical museum with its excellent Icon collection, and a special chamber with various Medieval ecclesiastical artifacts. Then we’ll continue to explore the treasures of Pskov – among them two splendid jewels –  Mirozhsky monastery and Church of St. John the Baptist, both built and consecrated in the 12 century.


Day 10, Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

In the morning, after breakfast we will visit Ancient Monastery of Pechori (Pskov Cave Monastery) that Lord spared from Communist desecration. Monastery was wounded at the entrance to the system of the underground tunnels that at one time were channeling the waters of an underground river. For past several hundred years these “God made caves” were used as the monastic cemetery and partially as the hermit cells. After pilgrimage to the caves and venerating miracle working icons in the monastery churches and chapels, we will visit ancient town of Izborsk for inspiring walk though the ruins of medieval fortress to the icy-cold shower in the Holy Springs. Time permitting, we will visit a small village of Vybuty, believed to be the birth place of the Russian equal-to-the-apostles princess Olga. Tonight we will embark on the train for an overnight travel to Moscow.


Day 11, Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Upon our arrival to Moscow, we will travel some miles east to a small village of

Semhoz to visit a church built on the place where Fr. Alexander Men, famous Russian Missionary and religious writer was assassinated. From here we will continue to a near by town of Sergiev Posad, to visit famous Holy Trinity Lavra (Monastery). The monastic settlement here was established by St. Sergius in the 14th century and became the single most important spiritual center of all of Russia. We will have time to explore the territory of the monastery, with a number of churches, and adjacent territory with a number of little shops. After lunch we will visit a very special place in Butovo. Here, on the place of the NKVD-KGB killing fields a memorial complex was build to commemorated thousands of innocents who perished from the hands of the Godless Communist regime.


Day 12, Thursday, July 4, 2013

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

We will start our day by a visit to Moscow Kremlin. Kremlin (kremlin is a general term used to describe strongly fortified central part of the Medieval Russian City). Moscow Kremlin is a true Pride of Russia. Among many other special attractions here we will visit Uspenskiy (Dormition) Cathedral, once the place of the installation of the Russian Patriarchs and Crowning of the Tsars. The Patriarch's Palace contains some unique historical and ecclesiastic Artifacts. After Kremlin, we will visit the Red Square – with its iconic "picture of Russia," the famous Cathedral of St. Basil.  Our last stop today will be at the Donskoy Monastery – historically important place, the “jail” and resting place of the Russian Patriarch Tikhon.


Day 13, Friday, July 5, 2013

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

We will start our day by a visit to SS. Martha and Mary Convent, established by Grand Duchess and Royal Martyr Elizabeth. Just a short walk from here, there is the Tretyakov gallery that houses a very fine collection of Russian art from the 10th to the 20th centuries. In the attached museum church we will see the miracle-working “patron” Icon of Russia, Our Lady of Vladimir.  After Lunch we will visit the largest functioning Orthodox Church in the World, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This magnificent building was demolished in the 1930s and has been rebuilt in recent years, becoming a symbol of changes in the country and the resurrection of the religious life in all of Russia. After visit to the Cathedral we will continue to the Arbat Street, famous Moscow pedestrian zone, place of art galleries and one of the prime places for souvenir shopping.


Day 14, Saturday, July 6, 2013

Meals: Breakfast. Transfer to the airport. Departure back home.


Important: the itinerary may be adjusted to satisfy the interests of the group to the degree possible; i.e. services, rest, additional time spent in the places where the most important collections of ecclesiastical art are housed. Accessibility of some of the monuments is also subject to weather conditions and restoration works as ancient frescoes are very fragile and need special climate control.




Price does include:

Accommodations in "****" hotels in St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Pskov and Moscow

Two or three meals daily, according to the itinerary

Private bus transportation whenever required

Boat cruise to Valaam (1 day/2nights).

An overnight sleeper train from Pskov to Moscow.

All admissions to the scheduled museums*.

Professional English speaking tour guides

Whisper Audio Guide System

English speaking guide/escort during the entire tour

Price does not include:

Personal health/accident insurance

Airfare tickets*

Transportation to and from the airport in Russia if traveling separately from the group

Fee for Russian visa**

Private transfers, additional (optional) tours and tickets to unscheduled show/concerts or museums.

Some newly introduced fees that may occur in certain places (monasteries or churches)

Bed sheets on the train if not included in the ticket price

Tips to bus drivers and tour guides (Minimal suggested amount per person is $2 per day for bus drivers and the same for local tour guides. Your generosity will be always greatly appreciated)

Anything that is not specifically mentioned in “Price includes”


* We will offer a compatible round-trip group airfare rate out of New York for your consideration

** All the necessary paperwork and instructions for Visa Process will be provided in due time. We also may be able to assist you with the Visa application process. For details, please contact Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky


Financial arrangements:

The current cost of the trip is $2,950 per person, based on double occupancy in a group of at least 30 paying members. Single accommodations: $900 and subject to availability. Please factor that the final price may fluctuate due to the actual number of participants or due to significant difference in exchange rate of ruble vs. the US dollar at the time of the final payment. Our hope is that the price of the tour will remain the same. In any case you'll be informed right away of any possible financial changes or adjustments.

All payments should be made by check to: "Palomnik, LLC" and mailed to: 53 Baxter Street, Binghamton, NY 13905. Any returned checks are subject to $25 fee. For payment with a Credit Card and for domestic or international bank wires, please contact Fr. Ilya directly.

A $500.00 deposit is required when you sign up for the trip. The deposit is non-refundable, unless is cancelled by the organizers due to lack of participation or other valid and unforeseen circumstances. The deadline for signing up for the trip is January 31, 2013. The entire amount is due 60 days prior to departure, April 23, 2013. Failure to pay in full by April 23, 2013 without written notice of explanation may lead to the cancellation of your participation, with no refund of any previously committed funds. If you decide to join the pilgrimage after the deadline, please contact tour coordinator regarding the availability.


In the event that you need to cancel after you have signed up, the charges in addition to the full amount of the deposit are*:

25% of the tour cost, 60 to 45 days prior to the departure

50% of the tour cost, 45 to 30 days prior to the departure

100% of the tour cost 30 or fewer days prior to the departure

All cancellations must be in writing and sent directly to agent/coordinator - Fr. llya Gotlinsky and must be received for reimbursement by the dates shown in the cancellation schedule.

If your visa is denied for any reason, the above cancellation fees still apply.


Passport and Visa:

A valid passport and Russian visa are necessary for travel to Russia. The passport must be issued at least three months prior to the departure and must be valid for at least six months upon your return.

The visa may be obtained through the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., your regional Russian Consulate General or at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in your country. You may apply for visa personally or via accredited agency. You must have an invitation from an agency in Russian to obtain Russian entry visa. To receive such invitation you must provide us with your full name, date and place of birth, number of your passport and your permanent address. Upon receiving the invitation, all the necessary forms for the visa (invitation form and hotel vouchers, visa application, instructions on how to file for the Russian visa and the list of the Russian official offices where you can obtain visa) will be mailed to you directly. We are willing to help you to apply for the Russian visa. If you apply for the Russian visa yourself, please make sure that the name and dates on your visa are accurate. All possible discrepancies must be corrected while still at home in the US, prior to the departure.


Rules on the road:

It is strongly suggested that you

Obtain insurance covering medical needs and coverage of personal property

Be aware that financial coverage for all emergency medical and other emergency needs will be your sole responsibility.  We will provide all possible logistical and personal assistance, but the financial aspect is your responsibility.

Act in a manner consistent with the surrounding environment

Make arrangements to have access to sufficient funds to cover personal needs and unexpected events

Be aware that the places that we will be visiting may not have the same amenities that you are accustomed to. Medical facilities in most areas are limited. Because of the difference in language and customs, it is expected that the traveler will follow the directions of the Tour Director at all times.


The Director reserves the right to restrict a person’s participation in the group’s activities, including exclusion from the group, when, in the opinion of the Director, such action is appropriate.


Please note:  The Director of the trip, Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky, does not hold any legal responsibilities concerning any of the arrangements, but acts only as an agent/coordinator.



LUGGAGE — Take only as many pieces of luggage as you can manage yourself. There will be several times on the trip when luggage carts may not be available.  Luggage pieces longer than 24" may create an inconvenience on trains because train compartments have limited storage space.

MEDICATION — Bring any prescription medications you need, as well as over the counter treatments for common ailments such as colds, upset stomach, and the like.  While most medicines are available in the larger cities in Russia, the quality or dosage may not be the same as in the US.  In Russia, as in the US, you need a doctor's prescription for antibiotics.

BE SURE TO BRING - comfortable shoes (do not start the trip with new shoes); electric outlet adapters, extra batteries, and film/memory cards for your camera, phone, and other gadgets; an alarm clock; Kleenex and toilet paper if you prefer a particular brand.  Some travelers also recommend bringing hand sanitizer or wipes, a wash cloth (not typically provided in hotels), a small fan, and bug repellant.

DRESS -- We are going to visit a lot of churches and monasteries.  Women should wear head-coverings and skirts when visiting churches and monasteries. Men should wear regular shirts and trousers. Visitors in open shouldered outfits or shorts are usually not allowed in monasteries or churches.  The weather in Russia in July will be much like weather in Vermont in the US, warm to hot during the day, with occasional cool rainy days, and cooler at night – and unpredictable day by day.

RUSSIAN FOOD – is generally good.  Sugar substitutes and powdered creamer are not provided, so bring your own if you use them.

CHURCH SERVICES - Church services in Russia are absolutely magnificent. There are two services scheduled during the trip. They are open to all who want to attend, but are not mandatory. Those Orthodox travelers who would like to receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy must come for confession on that day, prior to receiving the Holy Communion.

WATER – It is advisable to drink bottled water, which is not expensive and is widely available.

SECURITY - Don't keep all of your cash in one place, and carry important documents (like your passport and visa) with you in a hidden pocket or secure bag. Expensive jewelry and electronic devices are best left at home.

CURRENCY – There are more and more places in Russia that accept credit cards (mostly Visa or MasterCard, no Discover or American Express). The easiest way to obtain cash is to use the ATM machine. For ATMs use your debit card because you won’t be charged any interest on cash withdrawals. You get the best exchange rate of the day if you use your debit card for cash withdrawals and your credit card for purchases. It is a good idea to let your bank or credit company know that you will be traveling overseas, since without such a notice some companies may freeze your account to prevent fraud. If you feel more comfortable with cash, there are numerous currency exchanges in hotels, banks, and stores, even in the smaller towns.  If you will be exchanging cash for rubles, try to obtain clean, recently printed U.S. bills. Russian banks are VERY particular about the dollars they will accept and don't want dirty, torn or defaced bills. If you are exchanging cash money try to use larger bills, since it always take a while for the bank clerk to check the bills.



Last Updated (Monday, 29 October 2012 18:58)