By Vladislav DARKEVICH, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), RAS Institute of Archeology
The Solovetsky Archipelago is located in the northern part of the Onega Bay of the arctic White Sea. The Solovki, as the islands are commonly called for short, have been inscribed in a particular way into the eventful and dramatic history of this nation and take a place of prominence in the cultural legacy of the Russian North from the mid-15th to late 18th centuries.
Located on the Bolshoi Solovetsky Island, between the Gulf of Blagopoluchye (wellbeing) and Lake Svyatoye (holy) (at 65N), is a famous ancient monastery. Its brethren could communicate with the outside world from May to September only. In the rest of the year the treacherously unpredictable ice posed a mortal danger to navigators. The other islands of the archipelago are much smaller than Bolshoi Solovetsky. They include the Anzersky Island located to the east, Bolshaya and Malaya (big and small) Muksalma, and on the southern flank-the Bolshoi and Maly and Zayatskye islands. An ancient glacier buried the native granite rocks under a thick layer of moraine sediments. The banks of the isles are strewn with boulders, and their topsoil is thin but very fertile. Thanks to the relatively mild climate in the southern shallow part of the sea (the mean January temperature on the Solovki does not drop below -10C), and cyclones passing over Europe, the archipelago boasts a mixture of forests, taiga woods and treeless tundra patches.
An unforgettable panorama which opens up from top of Mount Sekir-naya (70 meters high)- the highest point of the Bolshoi Solovetsky Island-is a unique blend of a rugged seacoast and a carpet of woods with a shining necklace of blue lakes. These occupy close upon 15 percent of the territory of the archipelago.
Forests, teeming with birds and beasts; lakes and streams with plenty of fish; fragrant meadows and shrubs covered with sweet juicy berries-all of these blessings of Mother Nature blend into an e ... Read more