Solovki in Winter

The Solovki archipelago, known through the ages as the Northern Thebaid or Northern Athos, is a group of islands located at the mouth of Onega Bay in the southeastern part of the White Sea—the only inland sea of the Arctic Ocean. The White Sea is one of the most interesting geographical areas in Russia due to its unique origin, flora, and fauna. It is covered for nearly one half of the year with drifting ice, but when the ice recedes one can enjoy the daily sight of incoming and outgoing tides, watch the seals and white whales, and even spy mysterious mirages that turn reality into a fantasyland. The main point of interest and spiritual center of the islands is the Solovki Stavropegic Monastery, founded in 1436—the year that St. Zosima arrived on the islands from the Monastery of St. Cyril of White Lake. In the early Soviet era it was the site of the first concentration camp, where hundreds of Orthodox clergymen suffered and died for their faith. Opened in 1921 at the orders of Vladimir Lenin, it was closed in 1939 on the eve of World War II. A Naval academy was instituted there at the beginning of the war, and in 1974 the islands were designated a historical and architectural museum, and nature reserve. Monastic life was renewed on Solovki in 1990. In 1992 the museum complex was entered into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. We offer our readers this collection of photographs, “Solovki in Winter”, by artist and iconographer Nadezda Terekhova.

The sketes

Church of the Ascension of the Lord on Sekira Hill, seen from a distance

A snow-covered forest path leads to the place where many unknown martyrs were executed on Sekira Hill. Now crosses have been erected over these mass graves and services for the dead are held.

View from Sekira Hill

The Ascension Church and lighthouse

St. Sabbatius Skete

A bathhouse made of boulders in the Ascension Skete

View of Sekira Hill from the lake

St. Isaac Hermitage

The Chapel of St. Alexander Nevsky in the St. Macarius Hermitage

The guardian of the St. Isaac Hermitage, Fr. Eleazar, lives in the former bathhouse. Monastic life goes on quietly here in total solitude