View the Many Wonders of the Solovetsky Islands

The Solovetsky Islands are referred to as an archipelago that consists of six islands, namely: Anzersky Island; Bolshoy Solovetsky Island; Bolshoy Zayatsky Island; Malaya Muksalma; and Maly Zayatsky Island. These Russian islands form part of the Arkhangelsk administration and have for years been shrouded in ancient history, times of violence and the spectacular beauty of its natural landscapes. Even UNESCO has recognized the historical significance of these legendary islands in Russia, listing the Solovetsky Islands as a World Heritage Site in 1992.

Located in the White Sea, the islands of Solovetsky lie near to the Polar Circle. Of the six islands, the Bolshoy Solovetsky, or Greater Solovetsky, Island is the largest. It is also the most well known of all, as it is home to the fifteenth century Solovetsky Monastery complex. These Russian islands have many noteworthy attractions and sights, and have increasingly become popular destinations in the Russian tourism industry. The Solovetsky Islands can be reached by boat, by chartered plane from Moscow or St. Petersburg, helicopter from Perozavodsk or by airplane from Aekhangelsk.

The Solovetsky Islands in Russia are home to the Solovetsky Monastery complex that consists of eight large towers and thick defensive walls, protecting the interior. Inside these great walls, visitors with find the Gulag Camp Museum, churches and cathedrals. The museum has a great collection of heartbreaking exhibits and artifacts left behind by prisoners of the Gulag. These items include inmate profiles, letters, shackles and woodcarvings. Sekirnaya Hill has the reputation of being a dreaded feature of the islands, alongside the Church of Ascension that was constructed on the hill. The Commemoration Cross was erected years later as reminder of the atrocities that took place here. The wooden chapel that was constructed by the monks was a symbol of peace and served as a lighthouse. The steep flight of stairs that leads to the weathered structure still stands. It was here that the Bolsheviks tortured and killed many Gulag prisoners, often tying naked prisoners to wooden stakes and rolling them down the 200-meter hill, none survived. Other attractions include the Canal System, the Belgus Cape, the Botanical Gardens, the Negotiation Stone and the prehistoric labyrinths, a church, a cemetery and the wildlife of the Zayatsky Islands. Whale watching from land and by boat is another popular activity on the islands.

The Solovetsky Islands have a tragic legacy of cruelty that sometimes overshadows the positive periods of its history when churches where erected under the rule of Ivan the Terrible or the hypnotic beauty of the pine tree woods, dense fir tree forests and magical lakes. It is a destination that compensates for its past through picturesque landscapes and breathtaking sites.


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