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World's Largest Pagan Temple and Stone Labyrinths

Labirint on Bolshoi Zayatsky Island imageLabirint on Bolshoi Zayatsky Island

Today we will explore other islands, we’re at the archipelago, after all! After breakfast, you will go by speedboat to Bolshoi Zayatsky Island. Upon arrival on the island, you will see the first stone harbor in Russia, built in the middle of the 16th century for merchants and pilgrims arriving at the monastery. This place was chosen due to the lack of pitfalls and because of that large ships could take shelter from bad weather there. Then you will see the main attraction of the island - the world's largest pagan temple of the II-I millennia BC. e., consisting of stone labyrinths and other religious and burial structures. It is important to note that Bolshoi Zayatsky is one huge sanctuary of a mysterious ancient cult, where the passage of the labyrinth was only the final stage and the culmination of a long rite. Based on the research of scientists, you will learn hypotheses about how this ceremony took place. You will also get acquainted with the Christian history of the island by visiting the St. Andrew's skete, founded by the monks of the Solovetsky Monastery.

The White Sea imageThe White Sea

On your return to Bolshoi Solovetsky Island, take a leisurely stroll along the sandy beaches of the White Sea. Of course, the water temperature of such a northern sea is unlikely to provide an opportunity for comfortable swimming, but a leisurely walk along the sea will certainly give a range of positive emotions. The White Sea is the only one of the seas of the Arctic Ocean that lies almost entirely south of the Arctic Circle. You will see the "dancing" Solovetsky birches and some other "labyrinths" - a reconstructed cultural monument of prehistoric civilizations. On your way, you will find numerous sandy coves, "plantations" of seaweed growing in the coastal zone, thickets of various northern berries such as blueberries, lingonberries or bearberry, and if the season comes, a scattering of delicious northern mushrooms!

Filippovskie Sadki imageFilippovskie Sadki

If you wish, you can also visit the Filippovskie Sadki - a unique hydraulic structure for fishing, built in the 16th century under the Solovetsky abbot Philip, who also erected a harbor on Bolshoi Zayatsky Island. Return to the hotel in the evening. though it’s so easy to confuse if with day or twilight - because of the white nights!

Solovki imageSolovki

The nature of the Solovetsky Islands seems to be created between heaven and earth. In summer, it is illuminated not so much by the sun as by a huge high sky, in winter - it is immersed in low mild darkness, softened by the whiteness of snow, occasionally broken through by the cavities of the Northern Lights, then pale green, then blood red. On Solovki, everything speaks of the ghostly nature of the world here and the proximity of the otherworldly...

Solovki imageSolovki

The islands are different in landscape. Two Zayatsky, Bolshoy and Malyi, without any single tree, has own beauty of amazing color combinations of lichens, stones and boulders, bushes and polar birches. You can see the sea from everywhere! You can't get lost here. Everything seems wild and deserted, and only low labyrinths remind of the customs that man created for himself. Two islands - Bolshaya and Malaya Muksalma, are covered with forests and swamps, hills breaking off by the sea, and obese pastures on which cows have been grazing for centuries. An artificial dam connects Bolshaya Muksalma and Bolshoy Solovetsky Island. The central island - Bolshoi Solovetsky, collected in its landscape everything that other islands have. In addition, three hundred lakes, large and small, often bearing new islands on which especially secret prisoners could be held, who were deprived of the opportunity to see other people, and where once hermits isolated themselves.

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