Solovetsky, Russia Cruise Port

The White Sea and Onega Bay are home to the cruise port known as Solovetsky (or Solovki) Islands, Russia. This archipelago is comprised of six islands and just fewer than 900 residents. With the shores largely formed from granites and gneiss, the rest of the islands are covered with a plethora of trees; among these you'll find Scots Pine and Norway Spruce, which are able to thrive in the partially-swampy ground. After the October Revolution of 1917, the islands were notoriously used as a Soviet prison camp (gulag). It closed in 1939, just as Word War II was about to start, replaced with a naval cadet training camp. Unlike some of the other uninhabited islands of Russia, the Solovetsky Islands have cultural artefacts and historic buildings to explore, and are considered a big tourist attraction within Russia's north. Here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Solovetsky Islands, Russia:
 
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Solovetsky Monastery is by far the islands' most compelling attraction. Established in 1429, it has been everything from a retreat to a Russian Orthodox Church. Once used as a prison (for both church and state), a small group of monks re-established activities in the monastery after communism ended. Both the exterior and interior are absolutely magnificent.
     
  • The charming Solovetsky Maritime Museum is a great find for history buffs. Located right on the water, you might walk right by, not knowing what's inside. Make sure you explore the replica called Saint Peter, which took a decade to build and mimics the original constructed by Dutch engineers in 1693.
     
  • Bolshoi Zayatsky Island contains 35 amazing stone labyrinths, along with piles of boulders and other complexes of stones (with bones buried beneath some of the stone heaps). Anyone interested in archaeology will enjoy guessing just what their function could have been.
     
  • With more than 100 species of plants, the Botanical Garden of Solovetsky enjoys a microclimate that allows plants to grow which might otherwise not thrive this far north. Monks have grown all kinds of vegetables and fruits here for centuries. Climb the nearby hill for a lovely view.

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