Why visit Solovki
Although when under Communism Solovki’s remote and inhospitable location led to its conversion into one of the most infamous and cruel gulags, today restoration is underway to restore it to its former glory. There is a short window of opportunity in the summer months of June and August when the weather is usually glorious and although it is not an easy destination and accommodation is severely limited, the trip is well worth the reward.
The Solovetsky Islands, which are also referred to as Solovki, are located in the cold waters of the southern White Sea, just outside the Arctic Circle. The islands have historically seen a range of human extremes from endurance and heroism to severe cruelty and they are home to one of the most influential monasteries in the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Solovki Monastery.
The easiest way to reach Solovki is to travel from St Petersburg by train and boat stopping on the way to visit the little known city of Kargapol with its unique wooden architecture. On arrival the best way to approach the island is by a row boat through the myriad of natural canals which criss cross the island.
- Visit the Church of the Transfiguration, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 1714.
- Travel by boat along the canals of Big Solovetsky Island and see the town from the water.
- Explore Sekirnaya Hill, formally home to one of the cruellest Gulags, with its unique lighthouse church.
- Wander through the stone labyrinths of Big Zayatsky, considered rare and valuable archaeological monuments.
Beyond the Ordinary
This is travel beyond the ordinary, few people visit and coming by train from St Petersburg is taking the ‘road’ less travelled.