Long way to Solovki: How to get to and from the GULAG archipelago

One of the most famous of Russia’s northern archipelagos is Solovki, also known as the Solovetsky Islands, located in the Arkhangelsk Region.

History tells us that in 1429 three monks fled north from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in search of a new frontier on which to found a much stricter order. Zosima, Savathius and German, now consecrated saints, settled on a picturesque island three days by boat from the southern coast of the White Sea. The island had previously been used as a pagan sanctuary. The small site established by Zosima, Savathius and German became a powerful monastery in less than 100 years. The Solovetsky Islands have always played a crucial role in Russian history.

In ancient times the islands were home to one of Orthodoxy’s most influential monasteries, but during the Stalinist era it was converted into a high-security gulag. Hundreds of thousands of inmates died in the infamous Solovki Camp.

Today, the Solovki Islands, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Center, are a tourist destination and anyone is free to visit. Getting to the islands, however, is far from easy.

Solovki can be reached all the year round by water or by air. However the White Sea is usually navigable from May to mid-September so if you are nervous flyer you have about two weeks left to explore Solovetsky islands this year.

In winter Solovki is accessible only by air. Local flights from Archangelsk (765.5 miles north of Moscow) to Solovki are scheduled 2-3 times a week, with some seasonal changes.

This fall we are glad to present you our special project about the archipelago. Stay tuned and explore Solovki with us!

A recommendation: If you look for a cozy accomodation at Solovki, you might want to check "Solovetskaya Sloboda Hotel" , which provides a comfortable stay on the island at any time of the year.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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