The Solovetsky Islands or Solovki are an archipelago of 6 islands located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, about 165 km from the Polar Circle. The Solovki Archipelago is a very contradictory place, at the same time holy and desecrated, romantic and harsh, hideous and gorgeous. One thing is certain: this shred of land, frozen for most of the year, won’t leave any person indifferent to the fates of humankind. It is difficult to express in words the impression that the Solovetsky Monastery makes on visitors. Like the fabulous Kitezh-grad, it rises from the northern waters of the White Sea. Here is how Arthur Bryce describes Solovki in his article in 1899: “Early in the morning we are approaching the Solovetsky Quay ... On both sides of the bay there are green peninsulas, as if extending their hands to greet us, further along the sandy road that serves as the embankment, groups of monks dressed in black... And behind them and above them the golden crosses of Solovki rise in all their marvelous beauty…. ...The picture breathes the peace of order, pure joy, the beauty that I came to look for from afar and which, now I know, I have never seen before ...”
Founded in the 15th century by two monks, Solovetsky Monastery was one of Russia's most famous and holy monasteries, and became a major pilgrimage destination. The existing stronghold and its major churches were erected in stone during the early reign of Ivan the Terrible at the behest of St. Philip of Moscow.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the atheistic power declared war to the people and to the Church. In 1920, the Solovetsky Monastery was closed, and in 1923 there was a concentration camp, transformed in 1937 into the Solovetsky Special Purpose Prison. The hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, monks, priests, members of the White Movement, representatives of the creative intelligentsia, and from the beginning of the 1930s - dispossessed peasants were sent to Solovki. The concentration camp used sophisticated bullying, torture, and the physical destruction of thousands of people, so the very word "Solovki" acquired an ominous sound.
During the World War II, the Solovetsky Islands were used as a naval base. The monastery reopened in the early 1990s. Today, Solovetsky Monastery is a World Heritage Site, museum, and home for monks.
The Solovetsky Islands are a real monument of the human spirit. Excursion to Solovki Islands is an amazing adventure on the "end of the Earth" - as many experienced tourists call the island. Why - you must understand, see, feel by yourself ...