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We arrived in Kem after midnight and then stayed over for the night at the pilgrimage center. Next morning we embarked on a cater and left for Big Solovetski Island. The first day in this picturesque locality turned out to be fine. The weather was wonderful - the clear and sunny sky. But on the deck I felt pretty cold, as cool wind was spreading around while we were bowling. I settled down comfortably on the stair leading into the intendant cabin at the back of the deck.Hither the nasty smell of exhaust going up into the air didnotreach and I could dive into reading my German textbook without any worries.
When I distracted my attention from this exciting occupation for some time, I happened to observe incredible pictures: scenic islands coming into view and disappearing in a distance again, calm waters of the White Sea, a great number of hungry sea gulls preying on the bread the passengers of candor were ready to treat them with.
Two hours later we disembarked and found ourselves on Big Solovetski Island. After a short pitstop for a meal and rest I took a bathe in the White Sea in spite of chilly weather.
Then an excursion to the Solovetski monastery awaited us. I would like to emphasize that our journey was focused mainly on the visit to historical and natural objects. This revered sanctuary more than deserves to be one of them.
To begin with, I would like to tell you about the geographical location of our aim. The Solovetski Islands chain includes about 100 islands scattered in the waters of the White Sea. 6 of them are relatively big and have names: Big Zayatski Island, Small Zayatski Island, Big Solovetski Island, Small Muxalma, Big Muxalma, Anzer.
The Solovetski Isles are the biggest on Onezhskaya Inlet situated 165 kilometers away from the Polar Circle. Climate here is mild and cannot be characterized as severe in spite of the northern location. The name of the islands has several interpretations. The first one is connected with a bird "solovei" (blackbird in English). Another proof which can figuratively testify the correctness of the name given is that after the holidays on Solovki one feels relaxed as if had been given the second birth while listening to sweet songs of a blackbird.The stretch of the Archipelago from South to North is 24 kilometres, from West to East - 16.Karelians, pomors, novgorodets settled the Islands only in the 12 century.
Now I have come to the topic of Big Solovetski Island,its nature and main attraction - monastery. It was founded by Savvati in 1429. He had been looking for a cloister for a long time giving the priority to ascetiёism and strict rules. The man of God paid a visit to many believersТ shelters including Valaam as well, but the regimen there seemed to him too loose to fulfill the mission.
Soon after that he learnt about the Solovetski Islands and decided to set sail there. As the construction was finished, Savvati spent 6 years of his life there along with German. Following Savvati`s death, German got acquainted with Zosima and took him in within the walls of the monastery.
In 1475 and 1538 great fires broke out in the precincts of the sanctuary. As a result of these events a question of its rebuilding in stone came into consideration. The limestone served as the basis for that. In view of the fact that it did not take much money for transportation, it predominated as the building material. Big cobblestones were preserved here left by the glacier which had retreated some 170000-180000 years ago. These stones are extremely solid. Therefore, they are often used in the construction industry, especially applied to the fortification structures.
The monastery consists of 3 layers. The first one was intended for household items storage. On the second one severalside altars were placed: Savvati`s, Zosima`s and archangel`s Michail ones. The third layer pays thankful tribute to 12 apostles who appointed themselves to a missionary commitment, Stratilat and some other saints. But the honour of the redesigning the cloister belongs to Philipp Kolychev. He did it in such a way that it did not produce a depressing impression with its massive structure but made one`s soul closer to the God. This man of belief got a good education and served at the court of Vasili III.
But as the tsar passed away, Elena Glinskaya was forced to take over in view of Ivan`s IV infancy. Later on furious struggle for power broke out, Moscow was set on fire. Ivan Groznyi pleaded blessing from Philipp who had taken the stand of Superior by that time. However, despite sole glow coming from the new tsar, he was refused. The thing is that Kolychev did not like the behavior of Ivan who had shed the blood of innocent people and was not worth of being forgiven.
Having made several attempts, the tsar flung into ravings and ordered to send him away to Tver even despite Philip`s achievements in turning the monastery into one of the most prosperous places of worship on the territory of Russia.
MalutaSkuratov felt himself the man of belief as well. But judging by his demeanor it could be hardly possible to say so. Having received a refusal, he choked Philipp Kolychev excusing himself by saying that it was too stuffy inside the cell.
Going along the monastery wall we passed by the gallery bridging the Father Superior and his Deputy Cell buildings serving as an additional fortification, gates used as an obstacle for foes during advances and attacks, arsenal tower where the arms were kept.
The next two works of art are always ready to provide one with a romantic and inspiring view. These are chapels standing not far away from each other. One of them was erected in 1694 by the order of Peter the Great. At first only a cross could be seen here, but later it turned into a wooden chapel, which was later rebuilt in stone. The construction of the second one was initiated by Alexander II after the Crimea war.
Later our guide turned our attention to Seldyanoi Cape, where a biological station was situated aimed at studying the floral World of the Solovki. At present the Marine Museum can also be found here.
Till today the so called "babyaluda" has been preserved. In the past women were not allowed to stay in the Solovki at nights. So they were transported to this special dormitory isolated from the mainland of the isles.
Now I would like to come back to the narration about the monastery and pick up the point of fortress construction around it (1562).It may seem surprising, but within 14 years 1200 meter long wall was erected with the thickness of 4-5 meters. Then hinders were added to the complex from both sides and water supply canalscame into being.
In the meanwhile, our tour continued into the Annunciation Cathedral. It is prominent mostly for a religious image which a housemaid once discovered by accident. As she was dusting the walls and cleaning the rooms, the upper layer of the paint began to rub off. As a result truly remarkable pictures came into sight. Those biblical motives can be seen till the present time and presumably date back to the XIX century.
The drying building also belongs to the monastery precincts. Grains went into the third layer, continued their way to the second one and moved clean out of there. This great invention for those times was built in 1621. Apart from that household items and cult objects are presented here at the moment such as pectoral cross, for example.
On the whole the cloister is characterized by its advanced lifestyle for the XVII-XVIII centuries: it possessed its own fleet including vessels and numerous frigates, ships. What is also curious, in the middle of the XVI century the construction of the hydrotechnical canal system began. It consists of about 70 canals divided into 20 complexes connecting some 200 islands. The project was set at better provision of monks with water and more elaborate ways of agriculture pursuing.
In 1460 the monastery was granted with a deed for permanent ownership of the lands on Big SolovetskiIsland along with its precincts. During the reign of the Russian tsar Ivan IV this agreement was clinched with another official document. In the meanwhile the monastic life was sweepingly developing as the severe tsar introduced the monopoly on salt trade and transportation in the cloister. And this is the explanation to the question why only monks were engaged in this craft. Moreover, by the order of the tsar 100 deer were transported to the Solovki where they were adopted to the local environment and incorporated into this community. It was intended for the improvement of life conditions and their diversification. Apart from that dams of 2.5 meters long blocked the creek due to which something similar to an aquarium was created, where a great deal of crabs, plankton animals , cod are to be seen. Different crafts were also in the wake of their progress.
Another measure aimed at subordination implemented by IvanIV was destruction of the boyar lifestyle. The Solovki did not avoid it as well. At the same time, it did not leave any negative mark due to the solidarity of the locals. By the end of the 16-th century a defensive wall had been constructed around the monastery performing a fortification function. It was fulfilled during the reign of Fyodor Ivanovich, Groznyi`s son.
An open gallery connecting the Transfiguration Cathedral, the Nikolskaya Church, sacristy, the present exhibition venue and the St. Trinity Cathedral was constructed in the same centennial. Not until the 18-th century was it rebuilt in stone, roofed and added with glazed vaulted windows. Several dozen years later the walls were pictorially painted by talented artists. That left hundreds of pilgrims speechless influenced by their beauty.
After this jump into the future I would like to look back to the 17-th century. In 1611 the cloister was put under threat by the Poles who wished to have their own king there.
In 1702 Peter the Great arrived at Big Solovetski Island and ordered to build the First Called Andrey church after Andrey`s flag had been raised. Later on it was transported to Big Zayatski Island where it can be seen till the present day. Then the Russian Emperor reached The Baltic States and captured Sweden with its fortress Schlussberg or Noteburg. If translated, it means "key fortress".
The year 1801was marked by the construction of a bay with disengaging locks for introduction of sea ships. In 1854 the five-domed Raspyatskaja Church was built, where old-believers resided. Two years later the dam between Big Solovetski and Muxalma islands was consummated.
Since the times of the Krymskaya war two 3-marched vessels with a fregate"Brin and Miranda" on the raid near the monastery have been preserved. The English army under the leadership of Oyman began an embittered battle with the shooting of the Solovetski monastery. Despite that the walls remained safe and sound. Not far from here the college for Pomors` children was constructed.What is also memorable, the worshipping cross was constructed at the footage of Sekirnaya Hill under the leadership of Peter the Great to honour the SolovetskiyeMyrturs. Soon after the prison was closed in 1939, its territory came to the warriors. In 1940-1957 the drilling detachment was located here which belonged to the North Fleet. The traces of the forced labour camps were also robbed off. The walls of the monastery got decayed over the course of the time. Within the Cathedral of Zosima-Savvatiy the quarantine company of the special purpose was situated.
Now I think it is time to tell about the Marine Museum. As you guess from the name, it is dedicated to the sea life. That is why I found it fascinating to get acquainted with fishing items such as floats, straps, a seine, plummet; tools for dragging fish, baskets for hurling fish, a rivet, a fragment of metal planking.
The major part of the items here belonged to the pomors. What is curious, they called world parts in a different way, not as we do now: south - , north - , east - , west -. Not less interesting to behold is a model of the ship which was applied during the swimming in the northern seas and cargo transportation. It was constructed by the order of Zosima in 1790. The shape of the vessel had been worked out due to multicentennial experience of swimming in the broad sea of Arctica. The best elements of the western techniques were realized in practice including the inner and outer planking.
As a whole the skeleton of a ship consists of ledges, fastened together with planking. On the solidness and endurance vitality and term of its exploitation depend. It includes a keel (the basic ledges in the lower part), shtevni (low and stern ledges),bims (horizontal ledges), serving as the base for the ship. Planking is also a drastic constituent of a ship.
What is also curious, the local seamen participated in the reconstruction of the ship which was used by Peter the Great. It looks identical to its predecessor. However, the ship is provided with all the modern technology one may need during the navigation including GPS and other devices. Back in the XVIII century they simply did not exist. Now it is in the stage of preparation but in 2012 it was put on the water for the first time.
Next I went to Big Muxalma Island. From our camping site I had to cover about 16 kilometers to reach the destination. On my way I passed several lakes, the undergrowth of bilberry, cowberry andbearberry. Other inspiring picturesque landscapes such as small knobs, highlands smoothly sliding into plains and backwards were also on my way. At first I took the path which branched to the left and led to the Philipp hermitage. Its territory is fenced. A wooden cross was erected in honour of the Christian belief. This place used to be occupied by a cell, where monks Savvati, German cloistered themselves and led an ascetic way of life.Not far from it a wonderful lake is situated. But I avoided indulging my passion to take a plunge after a long run. I decided to switch myself to another aim - continue my way to the final point - Muxalma Island. I can say for sure I did not regret it a single moment afterwards. On approaching the dam I came across another lake. Certainly, I did not miss out on the opportunity to bathe in it having comforted myself by the fact that I had already attained my aim (not completely but at least by half). Some fifteen minutes later I left the water and found myself on the bank among a meadow full of bearberry and bilberry.
The most interesting and exciting part of the outing is still yet to come. The dam serving as a link between Big Solovetski and Big Muxalma islands turned out to be an absolutely marvelous spectacle. It gave a brilliant opportunity to enjoy the view of stone conglomerations, grassy isles in the waterfront and at a distance as well. The dam itself is considered as a prominent sight worth visiting with its winding structure laid through the waters of the White Sea. It makes the way to a completely new world, which is impatiently waiting for its turn to be narrated about. Now a little bit of history.
The name of the Muxalma Island comes from the Finno-Ugric language and means in English "shallow narrow creek". At first its areas were mainly used as grazing lands for cattle. Father SuperiorPhilipp turned it into a cattle yard (1553). Later on Vlasiy church was erected who was a patron of domestic animals. Hayloft was added to the local facilities as well. In the XIX centennialthe dam was erected to improve the cooperation between the islands. Later on Sergei Radonezhskiy church was constructed according to the project of the architecture Karmin. What also should be mentioned, Big Muxalma Island is the third biggest in the group of the Solovki.
Further I would like to pay a healthy dose of attention to my own feelings I happened to experience on this sunny and pleasant in all relations day (all the fears which occurred by the end of it inconnection with the failure to reach the campsite before darkness could be ignored).
First of all I looked around the site of Sergiev hermitage. Unfortunately, only ruins were left of it, but new buildings were also occurred. I was fascinated by this place surrounded by green meadows, forests coming into sight on the horizon and the White Sea washing around all this beauty of the nature.
Then I walked along a beaten path till it abruptly turned into a swampy way and reached the White Sea Coast having picked up several palms of cranberry, bearberry and bilberry. As I was moving along the waterfront, I got terribly hungry, since I had eaten only berries for the last six hours. To my despair, I did not have anything solid to eat.All of a sudden I came across several nice-looking russules. I remembered hearing statements that they could be eaten raw and decided to try it out because of having no alternatives at my disposal. They tasted really delicious. Therefore, while having the meal, I felt as if I had been served a slice of salmon on the golden plate. To the bargain, I gorged a couple of brown cap boletuses which fell under my hand. That even led me to wondering for which purpose on earth these mushrooms should be spoiled by boiling and who invented all that. After the supper I felt myself at ease, had a little rest and stored up some energy for the way back, which accounted for more than 16 kilometers.
In the meantime, I found it judicious to turn right and cross the sludge picking up berries. In the end I had to acknowledge having lost my way. The time was moving towards the night, the sun was preparing to go down. In spite of the fact that it was light, there was virtually nobody on the island, at least in the middle of it where I found myself at that time. I could conclude it from the reaction to my cry targeting somebody who could hear me and lead out to the dam. On wandering winding and interesting at some pointpaths, eating a portion of berry mix, I made my way to the visible at a distance chink. At moments I felt myself intoxicated by the fragrance of flowers in a ditch. As soon as the way out presented itself, this weird state of mind vanished without a trace replaced by soul calmness accompanying me all the way through the forest along a cross-country road till I approached the forest leaving behind the dwelling houses of the Big Solovetski Islandtownship. Drizzling was not a problem, but the failure to find the track made me feel creepy, as I had to stray in the forest for half an hour all alone in complete darkness without a torch. Caused by subconscious fear some strange feelings occurred at times, but it was not so traumatic for me as it could have influenced some other person not acquainted with the forest world. As I got fed up with all that and began to yearn for sleep badly, I went out to the light and explained the situation to people in one of the nearest camping sites still sitting outdoors and enjoying their time in the fresh air. Luckily, they agreed to take me in for a night. As you may guess, that came out as a great relief for me. Three and a half hours later I woke up and decided to go and look for the way to my destination, which was realized not earlier than an hour later.
Another exciting experience I would like to share in my story is bathing in the White Sea. Despite the temperature 10-12 above zero, it was something of its kind. The underwater world also did not leave me indifferent. I found a great mass of seaweeds with bubbles. This plant whetted my interest and I decided to take several samples home to distinguish.
What is even more curious, bivalves use dissolved remains of them as a nourishing soil. A great number of small and middle-sized shells can be found on the water surface. The water here is crystalclear, which could be proved by its transparency exposing sea stones and gravels.
Compared to the Black Sea, there are no big waves here, what makes bathing in the calm more pleasant. As I happened to learn, the salinity of water here is much more than in the Black Sea.
Another thing which impressed me positively was the starfish I found by accident. At first I was afraid of touching it and stood breathless scrutinizing it through the water. When I was told that tipping this creature is completely safe, I did not miss the opportunity to do that. Its skin turned out to be a little bit rugged, but that did not hurt me.
I managed to take a plunge into the nearby lake as well. Distinct from the Sea, it was not so exciting because the underwater world here was not accessible to the sight. But in spite of that the produced effect was not less pleasant.
On the 19-th of August we happened to visit Big Zayatskiy Island, the only inhabitant of which is the keeper at the moment. But he lives here only in the summer and autumn when it is visited by tourists to ensure that the mazes are not destroyed and the vegetation is not trampled. Big ZayatskiIsland belongs to the pseudo tundra area, because there is nopermafrost there. Plants cannot let their roots deep into ground. Therefore, they tend to be small. Among trees mountain ash berry and two species of birch grow.
They look more like shrubberies due to their low height and tendencies to haveseveral bodies. Now I would like to draw some explanations for the name of the island. According to one of them, monks used to come here to pick up eggsof sea birds, which sounds similar in Russian while inclining.
The major attraction of the island is its numerous intricacies. On the two Zayatski pieces of land among the waters of the White Sea there are 30 in the whole, while on the big one only 13 can be found. During our excursion we managed to observe 3 of them having explored half of the territory along the ecological track.
The biggest labyrinth in the Russian North is situated exactly here - it is 2540 meters long. The Russian scientist Vinogradov looked into it and concluded that their most important destination was to keep the ashes of our ancestors safe. The thing is that on the Solovki about 1200 mound have been found; on Zayatski alone 900 are to be seen. As many believe, they were perceived not as simple cemeteries, but as sanctuaries serving as venue for ritual observation. The souls of the dead needed comfort and these labyrinths seem to ideally comply with this wish. Along with burned remains of humans some animal ceramicobjects have also been discovered as well as household items and labour tools. Dating back as early as 2-1 millennium BC (according to the archeological diggings in 60-70 years of the last century) they have been preserved till the present day.
The age of the intricate structure can be drawn out of the position above the sea level. Pomors, for example, possessed more antique labyrinth on their territory and could use them as a trap for fish. Fish which found itself inside was washed away by the sea soon after that. Certainly, there were some other possible applications for intricacies, these compounds consisting of cobble stones and full of mystique.
Some scientists believe they served as a calendar. But according to the mainstream viewpoint, it ismuch unlikely to be so, as there are only 23 sunny days a year on the Solovki. What is more, in the period between June and July nights are white and neither the moon not the stars are visible.
Other prevailing outlooks on this issue are that labyrinths could have been used as a market place or a venue for sport competitions as well as a playground for young children in view of their encircling structure.
As the hyperborean theory is concerned, they may have been commissioned to symbolize the sunken land Atl?ntida. Classical pattern of this labyrinth is based on the cross arranged figure in the form of a horseshoe. Some other types can also be beheld.In England, for example, there are a number of intricacies in the form of concentric circles. In Northern countries (Sweden, Norway) stones lie as the foundation. As for the South, coins play the role.
Since long ago these fancy ceramic structures have been considered as the symbol of the Sun helping people to appeal and summon to it. That testifies more persuasively to the pagan customs which are believed to have existed here.
What is curious, the Solovki have been inhabited since the 6 millennium BC. The first human settlements came here from Kem with the use of boats. Later on more sophisticated vehicles came into function. But even earlier invented boats turned out to be rather robust - they could withstand waves up to 80 sm. On Big Zayatski Island monks used to live in the summertime. But now they come here only twice or three times a year during the warm period.
In the meanwhile, we approached the Signal Cape which used to serve as an observation post for sending signs to the Solovetski monastery about a danger of an enemy onset. Not agreat number of bow crosses can be seen here nowadays compared to the previous time when 500 used to tower. For such a small Island it is really crucial, I would say.
But in 1920 almost all of them were ruthlessly destroyed; only 2 of them were miraculously preserved. As an attempt to offset the lost heritage, they have been erected recently. The first one came into being in the 90s due to efforts of the island`s guard who lived here all the year around. The second cross is dedicated to the seamen perished during World War II. This tribute came from the participants of so called "Regata", the competition taking place here regularly.
One of the architectural sights on the island is Andrey`s the First Called chapel. According to the plaque on it, the building dates back to the 1702. But technically it is not completely so.
The thing is that the chapel was initially constructed on Big Solovetski Island. As soon as Nicon`s reforms were implemented, it was turned into the Old BelieversТ cloister. The fortress was also sieged by archers at times who also confessed Orthodoxy and needed a place for worship. After the counteraction melted down, the chapel was transported to Big Zayatski Island.
Later on Peter the Great arrived here which was not a coincidence. He set himself a goal to conquest the Swedish fortress Noterburg. Therefore, to honour the patron of the Naval Fleet, the first emperor of Russia ordered to rebuild the chapel into a church and devote it to Andrei the First Called to set the upcoming battle for success. Big Zajatski island is also unsavorilyfamous for its women`s penalty insulation where the punished were virtually not fed (the similar facility for men was situated on Sekirnaya hill on Big Solovetski Island).
After that another usage was found for the building and it served as a dwelling area for the participants of boat journeys in the 40s and seaweeds producers in the 60-70s. Now the church is functioning. The only thing which has changed is the iconostasis. Next to it cookery is situated where a stove can also be seen.
On our way back I took some time to look around and observe the surroundings. The sky was clear, the Sun was shining spreading its gay beams around. While boarding, I found it really nice to have such a brilliant opportunity to behold this natural beauty from the water. Passing by small islands, I was watching them disappearing slowly in the distance. Those were Sennaya Luda, Psovaya Luda, Babya Luda. If translated the word "luda" means "island covered with wood".
Next day brought me less exciting experience where it was mainly about paddling. But before reaching the boat station our guide provided us with some collateral information about the surroundings on the way.
Our main focus for today is the masterpiece of engineering and hydrotechnics - channels linking lakes with each other. They are more than 400 years old and were dug out by monks to improve water supplement in the area. What is also crucial, they managed to combine their needs with environmental sustainability. Big Solovetski Island takes up the square of 225 km2. Its major part used to be taken by swamps. But by now it was reclaimed. As a result microclimate here improved and the problem of excess humidity was solved. The continuation of the coastline of the island is 180 km; here there are a number of creeks, which are also called inlets: Shkolnaya, Sodnovaya, Dolgaya.
As for the peculiarity of the White Sea, its salinity is 28 g per liter. In spite of the northern location, it does not get iced in winter, but the navigation comes to halt in October, only private caters may shuttle.
At last we arrived at the boat station, landed in the boats and began our journey around the channels connecting 10 lakes. The lakes are claimed to have a tectonic origin. Accordingly, they are deep enough. The thing is that these water reservoir lies on different layers. To make their management more effective it was found necessary to connect them. Despite the system was not exposed to restoration and was let to its own devices, it functions properly till the present day.
The drinking channel has a special meaning in view of its clearance making it fit for cooking purposes even without boiling. The waterways get feeding mainly from precipitation.
In the meanwhile, we are floating along the Perta. The lake got its name from the Finno-Ugric "put" which can be justified by the fact that there used to be a great number of shacks belonging to hunters and fishermen. In the whole there are three Pertas on Big Solovetski Island - Small, Middle and Big. The nature surroundings are a truly striking spectacle. In contrast to Big Zayatski Island, where even trees tend to take the shape of bushes, here a lot of trees towering above the water surface and flinging their reflection all around the gleaming on the sunlight lakes can be seen. The ground is also not nude - it is covered with undergrowth of bilberry, bearberry, and cowberry on swampy areas.
I have not taken a boat since I was a child seven years ago. Back then I happened to go to the country alone for the first time, where I stayed in a camp with a summer English course inclusive. They did not keep a close eye on us and that enabled us to feel free to go wherever we wanted. So, one day I and my roommate decided to take a venture and try paddling together. We found it rather exhaustive (we were in the beginning of our tens - 11and 13 with me the oldest). However, the experience was really unforgettable. Now, looking back at those times, I managed to renew it in my memory complementing some other pictures. This is the way how enrichment of the scope takes place.
Later on I made up my mind not to take the same way back by boat. Our tour guide showed me how to reach the Botanical Garden which was not far from here. As I stepped into its territory, I found myself near the archimandrite`s Porphiriy dacha built in 1822. When he came to the Solovki, people found that Porfiriy could make a perfect pontiff. But soon after that he came down with skin disease - his body got covered with furuncles.
The priest travelled to Arkhangelsk several times to undergo a treatment. Despite all their strivings, doctors did not manage to save his life andPorfiriy passed away. Certainly, that was a tragic piece of news for the locals, since the archimandrite came across as an erudite and intelligent man, which gained him a lot of respect.
The house was built from larch-tree wood. The logs forming the walls had a spiral shape. In the neighbourhoods grapes used to grow, both white and red. Up to 40 kilos a year were harvested yearly. Later on we met wax-bleaching factory on our way. At first it was turned into cuttings, melted, exposed to the sunlight. But metal utensils were not suitable for its storage; only wooden ones could be used.Apart from that melons and water-melons are claimed to have grown here. To check it out, an experiment was carried out in 2004. It was aimed mainly at finding out whether these plants can give fruits in the North of Russia. Therefore, the researchers placed a greenhouse at the depth of 20 meters in Middle Perta Lake. To tell the truth, the probe turned out to be successful. A 3,5 kilo-weight melon was born.
In the 19-th century the Solovetski monastery became extremely popular. Pilgrims from the Olonezhskaya, Arkhangelskaya provinces came here. The fame of the Botanical Garden gained its pace rather sweepingly as well. It was called "the northern Venice" taking into consideration warm weather making the area on the island stand out.
In the Stalin era the precincts of the garden were used as the dwelling area for forced labour camp administration. Later on it was taken over by the Cadet school and in 1975 the Museum took on the management of the garden.
Now there are about 580 species of plants and trees here. Greenhouses, flowerbeds and kitchen gardens prevail on its territory. At first I found out that I already knew much of the vegetation presented in the garden. But on numerous flowerbeds with cultivated flowers I discovered a great deal of new things for me. Moreover, I even managed to take several samples of unknown for me before species next to which plaques with their nameswere placed to show my friends-botanists, replenish my herbarium and learn them.
Having left the territory of the Botanical Garden, I began to search for a suitable lake to bathe not paying attention to chilly weather of 13 C above zero. For me that is quite normal. In Moscow my bathing season lasts deep into autumn, till mid-November. The thing is that sometimes I find it difficult to get rid of habits. When I was fourteen, after a hot summer I could not give up bathing even when it became cool. Since that I have made it a rule. As a matter of fact that does not bring any trouble to me. On the contrary, it helps me find inner peace and refresh my mind.
As I learnt later, it was Small Perta Lake. Having approached it, I found a herd of winding leads sliding into each other or intersecting. On plunging myself into the water, I felt relief after a long walk. As I saw a tiny island in the lake, I fixed on reaching it in the end and not to restrict my plans only by bathing. This small piece of land was covered with the underground of berry suffrutices, which made it not easy to move around taking into account I had scratched my foot while stepping between two flowerbeds in the Botanical Garden.
Anyway, I did not let it spoil my day continuing my adventure. To be honest, I did not regret it afterwards having managed to treat myself with big blueberries I had never tasted before. Certainly, there were other berriesaround as well such as bearberries, a little bit of cranberry and cowberry. However, the decision was made to satisfy my appetite with blueberries and perceive the full enjoyment of them.
I find it needless to describe my way back along the country road as nothing special occurred; it did not bring anything special worth mentioning. Therefore, I would like to go on to my next venture which took place on the evening of that day. After bathing in Saint Lake not far from my camping site, I committed myself to doubling it despite the rusty fence which had blocked my way. The thing is that I noticed a snug pit under one of its section and came to the conclusion I could get through. Luckily, I was not mistaken and my intentions clicked. Passing by a great variety of berries the path was lined with I virtually did not pay any attention to them satisfied for the whole day. Having reached the end of the land, I made out another fence in the shrubberies. The fortune favoured me again; I saw a hole between the contagious bars of the fence wide enough for me to get through. I managed to find out from the locals that it was the territory of a former power station. Since it was closed, the fence still stood. But it is still unclear for which purpose they occupied the part of the lake.
Whatsoever, I was moving forward while evening was approaching, the Sun was gradually going down creating pink shades in the sky mixed with voluminous clouds and the face of the moon was about to come into sight. In the meanwhile, I did not let myself be frightened by the upcoming fall of darkness, as I had already experience it one day. In addition, the way out was visible, although I could not foresee how long the lake continued. At least, I was sure it was not the see - it served me as a great relief.
By that time I still had not lost my eye for local nature, since in Moscow you would not find a mix of different berries in such amounts. They mostly grow in marshy areas. Within the precincts of our city it is not a frequent spectacle. But here they are simply everywhere to be seen. No single path on the island could be found without berries nearby.
As soon as I moved closer to the chink, which filled me with the hope for a soon come back to my tent, as I felt extremely exhausted for the day, another adventure awaited me. Not to mention the fact that I had to cross several narrow bridges consisting only of single bar spanning collateral channels which seemed a little bit creepy while feeling shaky. Moreover, I happened to go down into the water with one leg up to the knee. As the dusk was moving on, I did not make out a small board about a step away from a hole I got into. But my second foot stood firmly on the ground. So, I managed to get out successfully, though it took an effort to take my sandal out. No sooner did I make the way to my shelter and lay down, I was sleeping like a log.
21 August was not a less interesting day. Its first half was dedicated to the information processing which had been gathered by that time. But later on in the evening I took some time to explore the Seldyanoi Cape its forested side, to be more exact. However, before coming to that point I would like to allude to history first.
The exploration of the cape began in XVIII-XIX centennials. Earlier than that it was covered with forest under the canopy of which craft huts kenneled themselves.
In 1764 things crucially changed, as ancestral lands and manorshad been expropriated from peasants. The craft began to develop sweepingly. While only fish barns and riggingsheds could be found here at first, several years or decades later you would not have recognized the neighbourhoods - so renewed they looked.
Sea infrastructure was considerably advanced having taken a more solemn sight. In 1830 "Seldyanaya hut" was constructed intended for fish industry workers. After rebuilding in 1881-1882 it was turned into the Biological station of the Northern Scientific Nature Explorers` society. In 1882-1889 a cross-carving workshop was erected as well as rope-lubrication, rowing boat and rigging barn propped by the piles and hanging over the seaside. The construction of the tallow shed and tallow melting factory dates back to the year 1842.
As the Soviets came to power, all the crosses were destroyed, the building where the Biological station was placed came to the administration of the forced labour camp and served as a dwelling area for them. Between 1937 and 1959 it was occupied by the training detachment of the Northern Fleet.
Next I would like to go over to the natural part of my excursion where it is mainly about trees and plants. As I reached desolate ramshackle buildings, I saw winding leads twisting from side to side along the coastline of the White Sea. They were mostly lined with berries and were supposedly made for nourishing purposes. This district of the island is famous for its labyrinth reconstructed by local students bearing a slight resemblance to those which can be found on Big Zayatski Island. At the same time they are claimed not to possess any historical meaning as on the island mentioned above. Here they pose a simple spiral made of stones as a pattern. Along the coast several of them prevail. The landscape is far not plain over there, a great number of knobs, bumps as well as pits and trenches are sure to be noticed on the spot. On my way I was taking pictures of the most scenic views I happened to come across including a number of plants and trees. Birchwas one of them striking the eye with its tiny leaves producing the impression as if they were toys but not real. Those height overfalls looked highly impressive while being behold both from the near and from the far. However, as I decided to bathe in the sea, I found out that the way to it was not quite accessible in terms of a great deal of boulders stacked up all over the stretch of the coastline as far as the eye can see. But in spite of that I was undeterred and managed to reach the waters stepping those massive, middle-sized conglomerations. I collected a couple of unknown plants to be distinguished at home and turned around to move back to my tent as tiredness after an eventful day was tangible. The following outing brought me not less exciting experiences, which brought more than not pleasant consequences in the end of the day.
At first I planned to go to Sekirnaya Hill. All the way to BolshoyeKartsino Lake was uniform and not remarkable. On reaching this point I was forced to make a pit stop in view of some rain. Unfortunately I did not manage to find a canopy near the boat station and fixed on kenneling myself from bad weather under a branchy fur- tree. To my relief there were some references on the bank which providedme with some kind of amusement as I could enrich my vocabulary with some new English words (this information was intended for foreigners) and pick up interesting facts.
As the rainfall melted down, I stood up to continue my way forward. But having arrived on the spot where the pointer to the Beluzhiy Cape was placed, I decided to change my plans and go there instead of visiting Sekirnaya Hill. It seemed to me the way through the forest would not take long. However, in practice I was bitterly mistaken. At least in the beginning the things were progressing quite right. Observing lowlands turning into highlands and backwards was really fascinating. While I was walking, country road turned into a barred way than into a simple path several times. Ups and downs were rare, but a wooden stair met once. Vegetation about was absolutely fantastic. Those were not only pine-trees, berries of different kinds and other vascular plants,lichensare also indispensable in the local floral community. At times I bumped into the areas covered with the undergrowth of kladonia among scattered adolescent pine trees.
Marsh The Big Kulikovskoyealso met on my way. Some information about it I learned in the local museum of the forced labour camps on the Solovki. I recognized the site by the stone foundation which has been preserved till the present day. By the way, a couple of mountain ash berry trees settled down on the hill formed by it bringing a little bit of difference into this majorly coniferous forest.
Later on the way the forest did not show its wonders trying to conceal them in the thicket with a small exception of the marshy areas running sever kilometers and suggesting only one lead to follow.
At last I felt myself closer to the goal - the White Sea was already visible in a distance gleaming on the sunlight and providing me with a chink that I arrived at the destination. In accordance with the information plaques, a colony of polar ternsresides here. Luckily, I happened to see these middle-sized birds of black-and-white feather colouration. It would be surely more exciting to see them in the near. However, I was thankful to the nature for the chance to behold them whatsoever.
The Cape did not turn out that merciful to me not having allowed glimpsinginto the rare species of whales, which is virtually nowhere else to be found. The thing is that to catch up with these funny creatures you should come here only from May till mid-August. In this period they swim not far from the coastline.
Out of this period they usually go deeper into the broad sea and are much unlikely to be met. When I came here, it was 22th August - a trifle late, but nothing to be done.
In the meanwhile, I went along the intertidal zone(a jet of land which is usually flooded during the tide while at the end of the ebbthe water recedes). I did not miss out on the opportunity to explore the Cape and bathed in the Sea in the conclusion.
Cherishing the hope for the pleasant comeback from an exhaustive outing I crossed a narrow creek connecting the area wherepolar terns live with the White Sea. Then I took another path seemingly going deep into the forest with the invasion to cut down my root. But in the meanwhile I unnoticeably found myself at the same point I had left. That bitterly disappointed me and made give up the dream that I had covered a snug distance. I should say that was not the worst what descended on me further.
No sooner had I gone over one or two kilometers from the Cape moving deeply into the forest, the sky got overcast with grey clouds and slight sprinkling began to develop into a heavy downpower. As a result I got wet to the bones. The realization that the way of about ten kilometers lay ahead was especially hard especially taking into account cold wind, darkness and extreme tiredness. But somehow I managed to make my way to the tent. That was a great relief after such an exquisite adventure.
The last day of my staying on the Solovki was crowned with the visit to the Museum of the forced labour camp. Before this facility was created, all in all 500 people had been living here - 300 workers and about 200 monks. In 1923 Kedrov was commissioned to create a camp of special purpose and let its erection here. Exactly the Solovki were chosen as a site in view of the fact that their geographical location was unprofitable for prisoners, as it was extremely difficult to escape from here. The main obstacle was the White Sea surrounding the archipelago. However, a number of attempts to flee still prevailed. They fell into three categories: successful, unsuccessful and effective. The major part of them belonged to unsuccessful. The fact is that the control was really severe. Not having shown up on the checking, which took place twice a day, the search for the prisoner was launched at once. In view of that one did not have an opportunity to reach the mainland in such a short period of time because vessels travelled between the continent and the isles not so often. Even those having had enough luck to attain the land, were intercepted there by PCIA (People`s Commissariat of Internal Affairs).
Whatsoever, successful escapes also existed. For the whole history of the camp functioning only two were testified.But those lucky men were well-off merchants who managed to arrange the deal with Finns given the agreement to help them. In contrast to other nations accessible from the waters, Finnland was always ready to accord assistance. Getting deeper into details I could only say basing on the words of our guide that they were provided with a boat and a shelter. Afterwards they got married to finnish women and asked their families left in Kaliningrad not to disseminate about their further life.Not earlier than in the 90s did this story became known, when there was no more political prosecution and freedom of speech was declared.
Effective escapes are those with which the administration alone could not cope and definite documents were accordingly sent to Moscow with the aim to ask for assistance. In most cases they were solved not in favour of the prisoners.
In 1922-1923 the monastery storage was numerously threatened by burglary. So that to cover this misguidance, it was set on fire. As a result the Hospital Chamber turned into ashes and was dismantled soon after that. Assumption tower and spinnerywere destroyed; the Annunciation Tower did not suffer.
Clothes Chambers were considered as the most valuable space in the monastery despite its not much promising name.
In the spring of 1923 the order of the special destination came into effect. 17а500 particularly dangerous criminals were transported hither. In 1929 an exit began and only 4000-5000 of them left. In 1930-1934 the penalty office existed here.
The Solovki forced labour camp belonged to the giants. Its territory comprises the Murmanskiy coastline, the part of Karelia, the Solovetski Islands. Representatives of many nations coming from different countries served their term here: Asia, Europe, Africa and America.
The Solovki camp of special purpose had some kind of dependence on Moscow as it informed the Russian capital about its activity regularly providing it with reports over the number of the placed prisoners and newly arrived ones. The majority of them were put behind the bars even without a trial and the right for sharing letters with friends. I the 30s the category of the so called "numbered" was introduced who wore the tags on their coats.
In 1925-1933 the "secret" company prevailed. Nobody could see even a single one of them since they were kept secretly and not let out of their cells. As for the communication with the nearest townships, the railway station was erected. Back then the dwelling area and the station were not so close to each other as one can think. They were situated at a distance of some kilometers from each other. The thing is that the residential quarter was cut off from the station by merchantsТ alleys and waterline which was comfortable neither for the locals nor newcomers.By the XX century a crossingbetween the Solovki and the continent was erected. But in winter the port was out of reach due to icing. The vessels traveled through the waters only from May to October.
Later on menshevicsand social-revolutionariesfell into the category of political prisoners as well. But the regime of their maintenance was less strict, even slick, so to say. They had the right to write letters to their nearest and dearest, which was frequently abused. In spite of loosed conditions applied to them the political prisoners did not miss out on the opportunity to draw up some raps about their staying under arrest. When the information sifted through to the mass media and then to the administration of the forced labour camp, it was concluded to administer the same measures to them as to the rest of the convicted to equalize everybody. But the Soviet opponentswere themselves to blame for not having been clever enough to keep their mouth sealed not to let the cat out of bag. Through this gesture they were forced to swap the "holidays" compared to lives of other prisoners for the complete loss of trust towards them. Before they had brought out their rebounds, they had been allowed to have an access to the seaside, live with their families and sleep on comfortable banks instead of the vegetation on the plank bedsin barracks. Their correspondence had not come under censorship and their expenditures were covered by Red Cross. What more could be wished?
Followingly the representatives of the both parties (socialist-revolutionary and menshevics) were included in the composition of the Red Army. As you may guess, that caused deep dissatisfaction among them which led to scuffles in the Savvatyevskiskete. That resulted in killing of four civilians. Afterwards the Red Army was claimed to have organized shootings, which was not true if the words of our tour guide should be trusted. The thing is that the clashes occurred involuntarily, nobody had planned them.
I have put a historical standpoint, but now I would like to pose my one. I suppose the reason for that behavior is simple to explain. These people could not just come in term with the dominance of the bolshevik`s ideology which replaced the old times. During the reign of the tsar not everything was allowed. However, at least relative freedom prevailed: different political parties existed, human rights were less restricted. Therefore, it could not comply with the regiment which did not let them speak out and realize their concept of humanity essence. They were not much likely to think about their fate giving the priority to making the wished changes come true.
In the meantime, my summer holiday is coming to an end. That means it is time to come home, much as I would like to stay. But before drawing a finish line to my narration, I would like to write some words about my walk around Kem, a Karelian city with a population of some 13000 people.
New Park seems to be an ideal place to start with in spite of the fact that I reached it only by the end of the outing. The stream of the Kemka River looks absolutely wonderful lit by the torch posts at night. On entering the park I was a little bit disappointed by the surroundings - the construction site dug inside out. But when I moved further on, I found myself mistaken. A narrow path was lined with trees from both sides. Out of sudden I got trapped into the ply of the winding river. At twilight I did not understand where I found myself. Having made several roundabouts, I managed to conclude what was going on - the Kemka tried to misguide me.
In the Old Park there were also spectacles to behold. Firstly, I would like to mention an extended river resembling a big pond or a reservoir, which turned out to be its stream. But distract from New Park, this presents to public sight its less attractive spectacle, where the waters are polluted with diesel and petrol wastes. It is difficult to notice from the outside. Therefore, I was surprised to know that from one of the locals.
Another noteworthy item is the memorial to the Revolution and its heroes. At the hub an imposing statue stood out - a man with a hand as if trying to reach the sky dome. On passing through the undergrowth taking several leads on my way, I found myself on the roadside. From here an inspiring view of the neighbourhoods could be observed.
Several hummocks on the surface of the river produce an impression of floating islands. They were not the only attraction. The ducks sliding slowly and smoothly along the water were also funny to watch. Then I headed for the railway station along a small and empty at night little highway. Later on I found myself on Gydrotechnikov Street, Proletarskiy Alley coming into Kirov Street. On this route virtually nothing notable was found with the exception of a monument in the shape of a wide voluminous post dedicated to the peace and crowned with a carved metal image (unfortunately, I could not make it out in the dark). Opposite the railway station there was another object worth mentioning - a memorial to railway crewmen who perished in the Great Patriotic War during the battle.
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