Bolshoi Zayatsky, Russia

Mysterious Russian Babylons


About to leave
On the way to Orthodoxy
Bi-spiral
rocky island
Orthodoxy on board
autumnal scenario
firewood & others
autumnal orthodoxy
conversation on board
Convenient anchorage
Beyond the rocky coast
Return to deck
Insular Orthodoxy
photographic moment
A set of prehistoric spiral labyrinths made of stones decorate Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, part of the Solovetsky archipelago. Devoid of explanations as to when they were erected or what it meant, the inhabitants of these northern reaches of Europe call them vavilons.

We woke up in the wake of a night spent together in the house shared by Andrey Ignatiev and Alexey Sidnev, originally from Arkhangelsk, temporary residents of Solovetsky, an archipelago scattered across the White Sea's Onega Bay, the same sea that welcomed Bolshoi Zayatsky.

Andrey and Alexey are both geological engineers. They were preparing a plumbing network that the island had long lacked. The duo only spoke Russian. Fluent in English, Alexey Kravchenko, the guide of Saint Petersburg who accompanied and guided us, supported us as a translator and relational link.

He had the help of the unavoidable vodka, of course. Not even aware that we had to wake up at 7:30 am, it occurred to us to reject the hosts' genuine and generous drink offer. The vodka we were served could only be of excellent quality.

Os gherkins of cucumbers and other vegetables, part of the delicacies with which Russians in general are used to accompanying and mitigating alcohol, gave us a dawn without major dramas, which does not mean easy, much less a good mood.

Dawn and Navigation Towards Bolshoi Zayatsky

The new day also dawned like this: gray as we hadn't seen it for two days. We pack the backpacks. We had an improvised breakfast with the grocery stores that accompanied us. We slammed the door of the Soviet apartment and gave ourselves up to toil.

It is with our faces pinched by the dawn cold that we walk towards the small local port, little more than a reinforced wall that limited a mirror water. When we got there, a group of Russian visitors was already waiting in a mirth, in the vicinity of the “pechak”, a boat named after one of the archipelago's emblematic capes.

Two crew members appearing from the interior give boarding order. Shortly thereafter, we set sail for the White Sea.

Orthodox nun, Bolshoi Zayatski Island, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

Orthodox nun follows aboard the Pechak boat that connects Solovetsky to Bolshoi Zayatski.

The light wind little or nothing stirred the neutral vastness we were plowing. But only the displacement of the vessel was enough to chill the bones and souls of western and accidental tourists from whom the other passengers struggled to understand the origin.

Passenger boat Pechak, White Sea, Solovetsky Islands

Passengers from Pechak photograph the island coast of the Solovetsky archipelago.

Almost an hour after departure, we saw the outline of buildings on one of the almost shallow islands that followed. With the approach of "pechak”, we noticed that the tallest and most irregular was an old wooden Orthodox church installed beyond a coastal strip full of large rounded stones and trunks. Next to it, two brick and stone houses seemed to serve the temple. We were in Bolshoi Zayatsky.

Orthodox Church, Bolshoi Zayatski, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.

Orthodox church and supporting buildings above the stony coastline of Bolshoi Zayatsky.

Landing and First Steps

The "pechak” docks at the end of a wooden pontoon. A tall, slender, blond young crew member dressed in a camouflaged military uniform completes the ditching and a new release order.

One by one, we all walked along the walkway installed on a stone base that connected the jetty to the entrance to the church. Ahead follows the only passenger in clashing attire, snuggled in a full-length yellow oilcloth.

A more composed group is formed than the embarkation group. The young man in the oilcloth assumes his role as a guide and begins a long dissertation in Russian. At first, we remained in the group, attentive to the translated explanations that Alexey Kravchenko gave us.

Shortly thereafter, the entourage splits. We also missed Alexey. We are left with our own sensory discovery of Bolshoi Zayatsky that despite the adjective (Bolshoi = large) is only 1.25 km2

Bolshoi Zayatski Orthodox Church, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.

Walkway leads to the old wooden church of Bolshoi Zayatski.

A Mysterious Sub-Arctic Island

A multicolored vegetation lined the island. Reddish and yellowish bushes stood out above the predominant green. And a stray colony of stones dotted the carpet formed by a kind of lush tundra gorse.

We return to the group. They had stopped once more by the guide, in an area of ​​the island where the underbrush of greenery formed an intricate tangle of furrows.

The leader returns to his verbal charge. We join Alexey who, in turn, is intrigued. In such a way that it limits itself to listening and transmits little or nothing to us. "This is really very very bizarre!" he finally lets go, astonished at what the guide could not explain.

This is the normal manifestation of those who are confronted with those strange monuments that are now lithic-vegetable or hear trustworthy descriptions of them. It's not just its esoteric composition that amazes.

The reason why the labyrinths are concentrated in an area of ​​only 400m remains to be determined.2 from the west of Bolshoi Zayatsky, while about 850 moles arise mainly from the east. How, incidentally, the dispersion of both megalithic elements across the various islands of the Solovetsky archipelago is enigmatic.

In Bolshoi Zayatsky the labyrinths are fourteen. In the overall tally of the Solovetsky Islands, there are thirty-five, all made of local stones. The smallest is six meters in diameter. The diameter of the largest measures twenty-five meters. Apart from the labyrinths and molds, there are also several petroglyphs.

Orthodox church in autumn, Bolshoi Zayatski, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.

Russian orthodox church in short autumn setting of Solovetsky archipelago.

Questions Labyrinths Don't Answer: Who? Like? Why

The heart of this spiraling question is obvious: who built them? When? For what? In any case, the attempts at explanation come from a long time ago and are disparate, a bit like the northern parts of which stone labyrinths of the same type can be found: England, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Russia.

In most cases, they were created on islands, peninsulas, estuaries and river mouths, with unispiral, bispiral, concentric and radial shapes. Its surrounding shapes are circular or oval. Only in rare cases, square.

The European distribution of these labyrinths has sent several of the scientists intrigued by the phenomenon to the ethnic profile of the Nordic peoples, in the particular case of the Kola Peninsula and the area around the White Sea, to the background of the current Sami people that inhabits, today, the north of Norway, of the Finland and northwestern Russia.

Orthodox Crosses, Bolshoi Zayatski, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

Orthodox crosses on the coast of Bolshoi Zayatski island, Solovetsky archipelago

Saivos and Other Theories for all tastes

In 1920, Russian scientist N. Vinogradov theorized that labyrinths were I leave, sacred mountains in which the souls of the deceased roamed. However, the definition of I leave received serious additions. THE Encyclopaedia Britannica defines them as “one of the Sami regions of the dead, in which the saivoolmak (deceased) lived happy lives in the world savoir supernatural with their families and ancestors.

The Sami believed that the saivoolmak they built tents, hunted, fished and lived as they had lived on the face of the Earth. You savoir they were considered sacred and sources of power that could be used by shamans. When the shamans wished to enter a trance, they summoned the guardian spirits of the I leave.”

It was understood, therefore, that the labyrinths functioned as a kind of boundary between the world of the living and the spirits and that they were used in rituals carried out to help souls to pass from one world to another.

Stone and bush maze, Bolshoi Zayatski, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

Russian visitor from Bolshoi Zayatski leaves one of the island's labyrinths.

Vlad Abramov's Labyrinth Walk

We were mostly busy finding the best perspectives and documenting them. But, there were already several people who took the trouble to follow its mystical paths. Vlad Abramov, a dedicated investigator of Bolshoi Zayatsky's labyrinths, experimented with traversing them.

So he described what he felt. “After entering a labyrinth and repeatedly walking around the center, one leaves the center through the same entrance. After several laps, it becomes unclear how much has already been walked and how much remains to be done. In subjective terms, time stops but, in a clock, the great labyrinth is covered in fifteen minutes.

It's hard to be distracted; the track is narrow. Requires looking at your feet. The rail rotates both clockwise and backwards. Finally, the exit appears and one is glad that the journey is over.”

Millennial labyrinth, Bolshoi Zayatski Island, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

A visitor from Bolshoi Zayatski bypasses one of the island's many labyrinths.

The guide in the peculiar yellow oilcloth continued his explanations in Russian. These, so demanded the concentration of Alexey, that we continued without his transmission of knowledge. For us, as for all mortals, the mystery lingered. The theory of savoir is. Contradicted by several others that are gradually more earthly.

Calendars? Fish Traps ?

Some scholars argue that the labyrinths were built by fishermen during stormy days, in order to trap evil spirits, or a kind of mythological goblins that brought bad luck. In this context, fishermen walked to the center of the labyrinths and attracted the spirits until they lost them at sea.

The former Soviet mathematician, now Russian Yuri Yershov, came up with a third, mixed explanation: that labyrinths served as a kind of schematic mirrors of the moon's orbit and the sun's apparent orbit, used as useful calendars.

According to another postulation, from 1970, by historian and anthropologist Nina Nikolaevna Gurina (1909-1990), instead of being used to drive evil spirits out to sea, Bolshoi Zayatsky's labyrinths were nothing more than fish traps.

Firewood in support house, Bolshoi Zayatski Island, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

Back of a Bolshoi Zayatski support house.

That would be the reason why almost all of them were built by the sea, in areas that, between three and five millennia ago, were covered by the advance and retreat of the tides. According to Gurina NN, the fish swam through the entrance and were trapped in the labyrinths, which facilitated their capture by the natives.

A Mystery To Last

Whatever its true reason for being, millennia later, the labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky, the Solovetsky Islands and pre-Arctic northern Europe in general continue to seduce travelers and scientists eager to solve the riddle.

Several, publish works and maintain blogs dedicated to the theme, some full of graphic schemes and geometric analysis and formulas. In any case, these works and blogs are sources of knowledge as hermetic as the mazes they cover. And they generate heated debates.

We reverse direction over the walkway and return to the church's surroundings. The ancient temple was also built there as a form of Christian affirmation against the pagan beliefs that the ancestral peoples had spread in Bolshoi Zayatsky and throughout the region.

It has been so punished by the harsh climate in these parts of Russia that it is fragile. Even so, the guide opens the door for us so that everyone, religiously everyone, could peek inside.

Pechak boat, Bolshoi Zayatski, Solovetsky Islands, Russia

The Pechak boat awaits the return of visitors from Bolshoi Zayatski.

Through a steamed-up window in the temple, we noticed that the crew of the “pechak” was already collecting the ropes that held the ship. Shortly thereafter, we sailed from Bolshoi Zayatsky towards the Solovetsky Island, she too is the master of her secrets.

 

A TAP www.flytap.com flies from Lisbon to Moscow on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 2:3 pm, arriving at 5:6 am. And it flies from Moscow to Lisbon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, at 23:10 am, arriving at 06:20 am.

Solovetsky Islands, Russia

The Mother Island of the Gulag Archipelago

It hosted one of Russia's most powerful Orthodox religious domains, but Lenin and Stalin turned it into a gulag. With the fall of the USSR, Solovestky regains his peace and spirituality.
Novgorod, Russia

Mother Russia's Viking Grandmother

For most of the past century, the USSR authorities have omitted part of the origins of the Russian people. But history leaves no room for doubt. Long before the rise and supremacy of the tsars and the soviets, the first Scandinavian settlers founded their mighty nation in Novgorod.
Rostov Veliky, Russia

Under the Domes of the Russian Soul

It is one of the oldest and most important medieval cities, founded during the still pagan origins of the nation of the tsars. At the end of the XNUMXth century, incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Moscow, it became an imposing center of orthodox religiosity. Today, only the splendor of kremlin Muscovite trumps the citadel of tranquil and picturesque Rostov Veliky.
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the track of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Suzdal, Russia

The Suzdal Cucumber Celebrations

With summer and warm weather, the Russian city of Suzdal relaxes from its ancient religious orthodoxy. The old town is also famous for having the best cucumbers in the nation. When July arrives, it turns the newly harvested into a real festival.
Suzdal, Russia

Thousand Years of Old Fashioned Russia

It was a lavish capital when Moscow was just a rural hamlet. Along the way, it lost political relevance but accumulated the largest concentration of churches, monasteries and convents in the country of the tsars. Today, beneath its countless domes, Suzdal is as orthodox as it is monumental.
Saint Petersburg, Russia

When the Russian Navy Stations in Saint Petersburg

Russia dedicates the last Sunday of July to its naval forces. On that day, a crowd visits large boats moored on the Neva River as alcohol-drenched sailors seize the city.
Suzdal, Russia

Centuries of Devotion to a Devoted Monk

Euthymius was a fourteenth-century Russian ascetic who gave himself body and soul to God. His faith inspired Suzdal's religiosity. The city's believers worship him as the saint he has become.
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Bolshoi Solovetsky, Russia

A Celebration of the Russian Autumn of Life

At the edge of the Arctic Ocean, in mid-September, the boreal foliage glows golden. Welcomed by generous cicerones, we praise the new human times of Bolshoi Solovetsky, famous for having hosted the first of the Soviet Gulag prison camps.
Moscow, Russia

The Supreme Fortress of Russia

There were many kremlins built, over time, in the vastness of the country of the tsars. None stands out, as monumental as that of the capital Moscow, a historic center of despotism and arrogance that, from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin, for better or worse, dictated Russia's destiny.
Kronstadt, Russia

The Autumn of the Russian Island-City of All Crossroads

Founded by Peter the Great, it became the port and naval base protecting Saint Petersburg and northern Greater Russia. In March 1921, it rebelled against the Bolsheviks it had supported during the October Revolution. In this October we're going through, Kronstadt is once again covered by the same exuberant yellow of uncertainty.
Lion, Elephants, PN Hwange, Zimbabwe
safari
PN Hwange, Zimbabwe

The Legacy of the Late Cecil Lion

On July 1, 2015, Walter Palmer, a dentist and trophy hunter from Minnesota killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's most famous lion. The slaughter generated a viral wave of outrage. As we saw in PN Hwange, nearly two years later, Cecil's descendants thrive.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.
Adventure
Boat Trips

For Those Becoming Internet Sick

Hop on and let yourself go on unmissable boat trips like the Philippine archipelago of Bacuit and the frozen sea of ​​the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia.
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Ceremonies and Festivities
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
Cape Town, South Africa, Nelson Mandela
Cities
Cape Town, South Africa

In the End: the Cape

The crossing of Cabo das Tormentas, led by Bartolomeu Dias, transformed this almost southern tip of Africa into an unavoidable scale. And, over time, in Cape Town, one of the meeting points of civilizations and monumental cities on the face of the Earth.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi
Meal
Singapore

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.
Tabato, Guinea Bissau, Balafons
Culture
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

Tabatô: to the Rhythm of Balafom

During our visit to the tabanca, at a glance, the djidius (poet musicians)  mandingas are organized. Two of the village's prodigious balaphonists take the lead, flanked by children who imitate them. Megaphone singers at the ready, sing, dance and play guitar. There is a chora player and several djambes and drums. Its exhibition generates successive shivers.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines
Sport
Philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
extraterrestrial mural, Wycliffe Wells, Australia
Traveling
Wycliffe Wells, Australia

Wycliffe Wells' Unsecret Files

Locals, UFO experts and visitors have been witnessing sightings around Wycliffe Wells for decades. Here, Roswell has never been an example and every new phenomenon is communicated to the world.
Conversation between photocopies, Inari, Babel Parliament of the Sami Lapland Nation, Finland
Ethnic
Inari, Finland

The Babel Parliament of the Sami Nation

The Sami Nation comprises four countries, which ingest into the lives of their peoples. In the parliament of Inari, in various dialects, the Sami govern themselves as they can.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Goiás Velho, Legacy of the Gold Fever, Brazil
History
Goiás Velho, Brazil

A Gold Rush Legacy

Two centuries after the heyday of prospecting, lost in time and in the vastness of the Central Plateau, Goiás esteems its admirable colonial architecture, the surprising wealth that remains to be discovered there.
Terra Nostra Park, Furnas, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
Islands
Vale das Furnas, São Miguel (Azores)

The Azorean Heat of Vale das Furnas

We were surprised, on the biggest island of the Azores, with a caldera cut by small farms, massive and deep to the point of sheltering two volcanoes, a huge lagoon and almost two thousand people from São Miguel. Few places in the archipelago are, at the same time, as grand and welcoming as the green and steaming Vale das Furnas.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Winter White
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
José Saramago in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Glorieta de Saramago
Literature
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
Capelinhos volcano, Misterios, Faial, Azores
Nature
Capelinhos Volcano, Faial, Azores

On the trail of the Capelinhos Mistery

From one coast of the island to the opposite one, through the mists, patches of pasture and forests typical of the Azores, we discover Faial and the Mystery of its most unpredictable volcano.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Natural Parks
Iceland

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, Balneario Los Patos
UNESCO World Heritage
Barahona, Dominican Republic

The Bathing Dominican Republic of Barahona

Saturday after Saturday, the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic goes into decompression mode. Little by little, its seductive beaches and lagoons welcome a tide of euphoric people who indulge in a peculiar rumbear amphibian.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Characters
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
mini-snorkeling
Beaches
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Back to Danny Boyle's The Beach

It's been 15 years since the debut of the backpacker classic based on the novel by Alex Garland. The film popularized the places where it was shot. Shortly thereafter, the XNUMX tsunami literally washed some away off the map. Today, their controversial fame remains intact.
knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Religion
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
cowboys oceania, rodeo, el caballo, perth, australia
Society
Perth, Australia

The Oceania Cowboys

Texas is on the other side of the world, but there is no shortage of cowboys in the country of koalas and kangaroos. Outback rodeos recreate the original version and 8 seconds lasts no less in the Australian Western.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Maria Jacarés, Pantanal Brazil
Wildlife
Miranda, Brazil

Maria dos Jacarés: the Pantanal shelters such Creatures

Eurides Fátima de Barros was born in the interior of the Miranda region. 38 years ago, he settled in a small business on the side of BR262 that crosses the Pantanal and gained an affinity with the alligators that lived on his doorstep. Disgusted that once upon a time the creatures were being slaughtered there, she began to take care of them. Now known as Maria dos Jacarés, she named each of the animals after a soccer player or coach. It also makes sure they recognize your calls.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.