Solovetsky Islands, Russia

The Mother Island of the Gulag Archipelago


Solovestsky Autumn
View of Solovetsky Monastery from an opposite bank.
shadow of a cruel past
Visitor inside one of the prisons used while Solovetsky remained part of the Soviet gulags.
on the way to the monastery
Religious women approach one of the entrances that serve the Solovetsky monastery.
Orthodox pioneer
Alexander Nevsky's small chapel in front of the monastery's main facade.
Green in working tones
Alexey Sidnev and Andrey Ignatvev, geologists serving the Archangelsk region and working in Solovevestky.
funeral story
An Orthodox monk passes by the Church of the Annunciation cemetery, where some of the most important personalities in Solovevestky's history lie.
goat gang
Goats rest in a somewhat Soviet setting around the monastery.
in the middle of the White Sea
Sunny panorama of the Solovetsky Monastery.
line of believers
Orthodox faithful line up to cross themselves at the altar of the Church of the Annunciation.
Mirror Dock
Boats anchored near the wall of the Solovetsky monastery.
cattle on the loose
Goat in a street in the village of Solovestsky.
fishing time
Resident sails by boat from a marina next to the monastery.
Soviet Parking
Three UAZ vans (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) parked next to Solovetsky's houses.
Russian accordion
Accordionist plays for passersby outside a local tavern.
religious front
Detached chapels in front of the wall of the Solovetsky monastery.
Divine Domes
Central domes of the Bolshoi Solovetsky monastery.
input faithful
Resident of the big island of Solovetsky enters the complex.
solovetsky-island-mother-archipelago-gulag-russia-gull
Seagull strolls on a Solovetsky fence.
Unhurried
Orthodox priest pass in front of one of the arched entrances to the Solovetsky monastery.
Russian TV
Satellite dishes that provide a television link to the rest of Russia.
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.

The long rainy and dangerous journey of Saint Petersburg it was charging us, for a long time, a weariness that was increasingly difficult to disguise.

Napping in the car did little to ease him. The dawn of day and the moment when we were able to climb aboard the little one arrived, just like that, as an enormous relief.

And it was with surprise that after two hours of navigation departing from Kem, we saw the imposing silhouette of the Solovetsky monastery, similar to the illustration of the 500 ruble banknotes in circulation, emerge from the bow projection.

in the middle of the White Sea

Sunny panorama of the Solovetsky Monastery.

The boat docks ten meters from its walls. The owners of the house where we were going to stay welcome us. As soon as we entered that rental home, we realized that we were going to share it with Russian guests. At that moment, they were absent.

We rest for a few hours. Finally recovered from the atrocious road direct of the night before, we left for an inaugural exploration.

on the way to the monastery

Religious women approach one of the entrances that serve the Solovetsky monastery.

Incursion into Bolshoy Solovetsky's Unorthodox Life

We skirt the humble marina that serves the largest of the Solovetskys and the dark waters that reflect the domes of the imposing building.

We come across loose goats, stray cats, cycling nuns and residents absorbed in their tasks.

goat gang

Goats rest in a somewhat Soviet setting around the monastery.

And, at one end of the bay facing the wall, with a Russian with a Rasputinian look that didn't agree with our passage through those domains. He grew vegetables in the garden of the wooden house he was keeping under restoration.

A mystical tolling of the monastery's bells breaks the hitherto religious silence. Minutes before it ends, we see a battalion of men from the works appear from the portal that gives access to the Orthodox domain and relax on the grass for a brief rest and conviviality.

His presence had a superior reason to be, but it was slow to resolve the problem: Solovki, as the archipelago that is still part of the mysterious Bolshoi Zayatsky was the first place in Russia to be recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Even so, it continued to need renovations.

When we were on the boat, one of the passengers from the country of the tsars complained to other visitors: “those scaffolding has been in the domes for a long time. Foreigners get annoyed because their photographs are spoiled. I'm very disappointed that things around here are always done this way!”.

Central domes of the Bolshoi Solovetsky monastery.

The resettled darkness and cold invite us to return to the rooms. When we enter, it smells like food. We get to know the Russians with whom we shared the house. And to know that dinner had been made for everyone.

The Warm Welcome of Andrey Ignatvev and Alexey Sidnev

Alexey Kravchenko, the host who brought us from Saint Petersburg he quickly puts us at ease, even if only a few English words his compatriots uttered. “They are eager to know how to say”lobster” in Portuguese, but the little ones, you know?”, he tells us. And show us a paper they had drawn. “Lobster…im? "

I don't know if I can tell them this but I have to make an effort. It's every Russian's dream to gorge on fresh fish and seafood from Portugal!”

We sat down. We shared a long starter of vodka, cucumber slices in pickles and fresh tomatoes, still enriched with pieces of saló, a cooled pork lard that the Russians got used to consuming to alleviate the effects of the alcohol they drink.

Vodka, Solovetsky, Mother Island of the Gulag Archipelago, Russia

Small bottle of vodka added to Alexey and Andrey's table in their temporary home in Solovetsky.

Conversation starts, we learned that Andrey Ignatvev – the former student chef who had cooked the dinner – and Alexey Sidnev formed a pair of geologists from the nearby city of Archangelsk.

They were at the service of the region. They traveled frequently from Archangelsk to work in Solovetsky.

Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site for over 20 years, the great Bolshoi Solovetsky continued to see its sewers flow into the bay in front of the monastery. It lacked real basic sanitation.

Andrey and Alexey had at their disposal an old Soviet UAZ van (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) military green, littered with worn tools. Their mission was to examine the soil and collect samples to facilitate the decision on the type of pipes (and ideal depths) to be implemented.

Green in working tones

Alexey Sidnev and Andrey Ignatvev, geologists serving the Archangelsk region and working in Solovevestky.

If we take into account the real epic behind the settlement of the monastery in those northern parts of Russia, his work could be considered minor.

The War History of the Solovetsky Monastery

In 1429, two monks from the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery founded a new monastery in the area of ​​the large island of Solovetsky now called Savvatevo. A third monk, hailing from Valaam and named Zosima, joined them.

This trio created the bases for the new religious stronghold to become wealthy and powerful.

Orthodox priest pass in front of one of the arched entrances to the Solovetsky monastery.

Between 1582 and 1594, it was endowed with a stone fortress. The power of this additional structure enabled the monastery to accumulate vast lands around the White Sea.

In the 350th century, when it was already home to more than 600 monks and between 700 to XNUMX servants, artisans and peasants, the monastery succumbed to a seven-year siege and consequent looting by the tsarist government forces.

In that same century and the following, he managed to repel attacks from the Livonia order (a branch of Teutonics) in Sweden. Later, during the Crimean War, it even resisted the incursion of British ships.

Solovestsky Autumn

View of Solovetsky Monastery from an opposite bank.

Solovetsky's monastery did not, however, resist the Bolshevik revolution and the atheistic whims of the Soviet authorities.

In 1921, it was closed and replaced by a state farm.

The Field of Work decreed by Lenin

Two more years later, under Lenin's term, it would be turned into a labor camp for enemies of the people. A labor camp where, at first wasteful, the prisoners were limited to maintaining the botanical garden and libraries.

Absent for decades, seeing the imminence of the fall of the USSR in 1980, the monks began to return. By the time of our visit, there were already more than ten.

We find them all the time in the inner areas of the fortress, always well recognizable by their black clothes and long beards, busy with their countless ecclesiastical tasks.

Two Orthodox monks from the Solovetsky monastery embrace with affection.

As we explored the complex, we noticed that one of them prays next to the Church of the Annunciation cemetery, where the bodies of the most important condemned to exile in the monastery lie.

We joined a group of Russian visitors.

Using Alexey's surgical translations of the narration in his language, we were impressed by the lugubrious cruelty also perpetuated in the stony dungeons we entered.

shadow of a cruel past

Visitor inside one of the prisons used while Solovetsky remained part of the Soviet gulags

From the Mother Island Gulag Dictated by Stalin to the Recovery of Orthodox Spirituality

In 1937, Stalin it turned Solovetsky monastery into one of its most severe gulags.

The mother of all, that's how Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dubbed him in “The Gulag Archipelago”, the work in which he describes the sub-human life and death to which tens of thousands of intellectuals, Orthodox priests, members of religious sects and old Bolsheviks and kulaks were subjected . Of these, about 40 were executed or killed by disease.

funeral story

An Orthodox monk passes by the Church of the Annunciation cemetery, where some of the most important personalities in Solovevestky's history lie.

Still, strangely enough, the island's spirituality seems healed. Bolshoi Solovevestky and the monastery once again attract people looking for meaning.

We stroll around the walls when we come across an accordionist who, in exchange for a few rubles for vodka, gives an occasion recital for locals and visitors.

Accordionist plays for passersby outside a local tavern.

Curious about the interest of these outsiders, Ludmila, a “refugee” on the island, approaches us. We ended up speaking in French. The lady had worked as an emigrant for many years in Nimes, there she left her children and their families.

He was so disillusioned with life that he found comfort only among the religious community and Solovetsky's prayers. "I couldn't stand it anymore." vents to us “They treated me like second-rate people” he laments, still without hiding an obvious nostalgia for his people. “Here yes. Here I am with God.”

When we hear her utter those words, the fearless conclusion of Solzhenitsyn for the revolution that had allowed the death of 60 million compatriots, many in Gulags like the tax on Solovetsky:

“Men forgot about God. That's why all this happened.”

Sunset, Solovetsky, Mother Island of the Gulag Archipelago, Russia

Sun sets over the White Sea on one of the long days of the short summer in the Solovetsky archipelago.

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.
Harare, Zimbabwewe

The Last Rales of Surreal Mugabué

In 2015, Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe said the 91-year-old president would rule until the age of 100 in a special wheelchair. Shortly thereafter, it began to insinuate itself into his succession. But in recent days, the generals have finally precipitated the removal of Robert Mugabe, who has replaced him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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.
Upplistsikhe e Gori, Georgia

From the Cradle of Georgia to Stalin's Childhood

In the discovery of the Caucasus, we explore Uplistsikhe, a troglodyte city that preceded Georgia. And just 10km away, in Gori, we find the place of the troubled childhood of Joseb Jughashvili, who would become the most famous and tyrant of Soviet leaders.
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.
Castles and Fortresses

The World to Defense - Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
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

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.
Discovering Tassie, Part 2 - Hobart to Port Arthur, Australia

An Island Doomed to Crime

The prison complex at Port Arthur has always frightened the British outcasts. 90 years after its closure, a heinous crime committed there forced Tasmania to return to its darkest times.
Alcatraz, San Francisco, USA

Back to the Rock

Forty years after his sentence ended, the former Alcatraz prison receives more visitors than ever. A few minutes of his seclusion explain why The Rock's imagination made the worst criminals shiver.
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.
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.
Bolshoi Zayatsky, Russia

Mysterious Russian Babylons

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.
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.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
safari
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
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.
A Lost and Found City
Architecture & Design
Machu Picchu, Peru

The City Lost in the Mystery of the Incas

As we wander around Machu Picchu, we find meaning in the most accepted explanations for its foundation and abandonment. But whenever the complex is closed, the ruins are left to their enigmas.
Full Dog Mushing
Adventure
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia – High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Cities
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.
Meal
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Jingkieng Wahsurah, Nongblai Village Roots Bridge, Meghalaya, India
Culture
Meghalaya, India

The Bridges of the Peoples that Create Roots

The unpredictability of rivers in the wettest region on Earth never deterred the Khasi and the Jaintia. Faced with the abundance of trees elastic fig tree in their valleys, these ethnic groups got used to molding their branches and strains. From their time-lost tradition, they have bequeathed hundreds of dazzling root bridges to future generations.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Sport
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Kayaking on Lake Sinclair, Cradle Mountain - Lake Sinclair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Traveling
Discovering tassie, Part 4 - Devonport to Strahan, Australia

Through the Tasmanian Wild West

If the almost antipode tazzie is already a australian world apart, what about its inhospitable western region. Between Devonport and Strahan, dense forests, elusive rivers and a rugged coastline beaten by an almost Antarctic Indian ocean generate enigma and respect.
Tabatô, Guinea Bissau, tabanca Mandingo musicians. Baidi
Ethnic
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

The Tabanca of Mandinga Poets Musicians

In 1870, a community of traveling Mandingo musicians settled next to the current city of Bafatá. From the Tabatô they founded, their culture and, in particular, their prodigious balaphonists, dazzle the world.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Travel Sao Tome, Ecuador, Sao Tome and Principe, Pico Cão Grande
History
São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe

Journey to where São Tomé points the Equator

We go along the road that connects the homonymous capital to the sharp end of the island. When we arrived in Roça Porto Alegre, with the islet of Rolas and Ecuador in front of us, we had lost ourselves time and time again in the historical and tropical drama of São Tomé.
Bather rescue in Boucan Canot, Reunion Island
Islands
Reunion Island

The Bathing Melodrama of Reunion

Not all tropical coastlines are pleasurable and refreshing retreats. Beaten by violent surf, undermined by treacherous currents and, worse, the scene of the most frequent shark attacks on the face of the Earth, that of the Reunion Island he fails to grant his bathers the peace and delight they crave from him.
St. Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia, Caucasus
Winter White
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
Kukenam reward
Literature
Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

At the top of Mount Roraima, there are extraterrestrial scenarios that have resisted millions of years of erosion. Conan Doyle created, in "The Lost World", a fiction inspired by the place but never got to step on it.
Train Kuranda train, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Nature
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Autumn
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Hell's Bend of Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Natural Parks
Fish River Canyon, Namíbia

The Namibian Guts of Africa

When nothing makes you foreseeable, a vast river ravine burrows the southern end of the Namíbia. At 160km long, 27km wide and, at intervals, 550 meters deep, the Fish River Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Africa. And one of the biggest canyons on the face of the Earth.
UNESCO World Heritage
unmissable roads

Great Routes, Great Trips

With pompous names or mere road codes, certain roads run through really sublime scenarios. From Road 66 to the Great Ocean Road, they are all unmissable adventures behind the wheel.
Earp brothers look-alikes and friend Doc Holliday in Tombstone, USA
Characters
tombstone, USA

Tombstone: the City Too Hard to Die

Silver veins discovered at the end of the XNUMXth century made Tombstone a prosperous and conflictive mining center on the frontier of the United States to Mexico. Lawrence Kasdan, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and other Hollywood directors and actors made famous the Earp brothers and the bloodthirsty duel of “OK Corral”. The Tombstone, which, over time, has claimed so many lives, is about to last.
Moorea aerial view
Beaches
Moorea, French Polynesia

The Polynesian Sister Any Island Would Like to Have

A mere 17km from Tahiti, Moorea does not have a single city and is home to a tenth of its inhabitants. Tahitians have long watched the sun go down and transform the island next door into a misty silhouette, only to return to its exuberant colors and shapes hours later. For those who visit these remote parts of the Pacific, getting to know Moorea is a double privilege.
Ulugh Beg, Astronomer, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, A Space Marriage
Religion
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
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.
Creepy Goddess Graffiti, Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, USA, United States America
Society
The Haight, San Francisco, USA

Orphans of the Summer of Love

Nonconformity and creativity are still present in the old Flower Power district. But almost 50 years later, the hippie generation has given way to a homeless, uncontrolled and even aggressive youth.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
Etosha National Park Namibia, rain
Wildlife
PN Etosha, Namíbia

The Lush Life of White Namibia

A vast salt flat rips through the north of Namibia. The Etosha National Park that surrounds it proves to be an arid but providential habitat for countless African wild species.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.