Solovki - Solovetsky Monastery, Islands

This is a special place.

Solovetsky Islands are located in the north of the European part of Russia – in the White Sea.

The Islands have been visited by people now for more than 5000 years.

Since the 15th century, the islands have been populated by hermit monks who founded a monastery on the islands.

The monastery soon became the center of Orthodox life of the Russian North and … a privileged prison. Metropolitan Philip dared to thwart the Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible and was strangled in the monastery. For a quarter of a century monks of the Solovetsky Monastery resisted the church reform of Nikon, but in 1676 they were “pacified” by tsar’s musketeers. In total, during tsarist era about 500 Russians became prisoners in Solovki.

In 1922-39 on the islands there was the Solovetsky camp for dissenters of the politics of the Soviet government. There were tens of thousands of prisoners, many of whom never left Solovki.

1.     Tsar’s Road 1702

On the northern outskirts of Russia there was a threatening situation. Swedish fleet blocked the Neva River.

In 1702, from the White Sea Russian ships and ship artillery were transferred by land to the Neva River, which made it possible to lift the blockade of Neva.

In 1703, on the banks of the Neva River, the city of St. Petersburg was founded, the future capital of Russia.

In 1702, from the walls of the monastery the famous transfer on land of warships from the White Sea to the Neva River began. The redeployment was led by Peter I. The operation finished with regaining from Sweden the Neva River bed, which was lost by Russia in 1617, and with founding of the city of St. Petersburg.

Peter I drags ships from the Onega Bay to Lake Onega in 1702. Vasily Surikov. 1872

Peter I drags ships from the Onega Bay to Lake Onega in 1702. Vasily Surikov. 1872.

2. Artillery Duel 1854

During the Crimean War two British war ships came to one of the Solovetsky Islands, where the Solovetsky Monastery was located.

The shelling of the monastery by British using 60 guns didn’t achieve noticeable results.

English troops that landed on the shore were overturned back to the sea by the Russian militia.

The reprisal fire of the British ship hit a flag on one of the ships. British took offence.

It was followed by a two-day bombardment of the monastery, which led to nothing. The British retreated.

Solovki (1915) Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Solovki (1915) / Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky / Library of US Congress

3. Solovki Labyrinths

Solovki Labyrinths

What it is – no one knows.

Scientists only assume that labyrinths built in the Neolithic era had a cult meaning. But which specifically? To make sure that a soul of the dead did not come back to this world and remained in the world of shadows?

If a living person enters the labyrinth, then after some time he will come out of it in the same place, where he entered. Maybe it is a ritual of purification – passing through the labyrinth a person becomes different?

Or was it just an attempt to leave a trace of yourself on this earth?

But most likely the maze was an important part of rituals associated with fishing. You can think of a maze as a net designed to keep the fish. No wonder all the mazes are located on beaches.

It is possible that the “net” is a literal purpose of mazes when it comes to finding these constructions by the sea, in the area of ​​tides. During the construction of mazes, their height above sea level was different.

There are many labyrinths on Solovki, especially on the Zayatsky Island.

Interestingly, the monks who firmly defended their beliefs, even during Church dissent, did not touch ancient structures belonging to other cultures and other religions.

Did ancient people live on Solovki? Perhaps they did. Or ancient people came to Solovki for religious ceremonies.

It’s amazing to imagine that in different years different civilizations lived on Solovki and succeeded each other. Where did the old civilizations go? Did people get dissolved in newcomers, move to other places, or die?


What is Solovki today? Harsh legacy or fertile islands? Everyone has a different answer. But some foreigners that visit Solovki, could not part with the islands for many years. Indeed, there is something indescribable here, something that is as if dissolved in the air.


фото 1,4-фотобанк Лори

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