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Located on the shores of Russia’s White Sea and under a hundred miles from the Arctic Circle these isolated islands have been home to a monastery since the 15th-century.

The islands are a testament to human endurance, as well as a monument to human suffering. The monks who originally populated the islands overcame a harsh environment to establish one of the most important and richest monasteries in Russia.

After the revolution, the monastery became a notorious prison camp, with forced labourers being incarcerated in tortuous conditions.

Around the islands

Solovetsky Monastery, Solovetski IslandsListed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 the churches and cathedrals on the islands have subsequently undergone a long process of restoration and a working monastery re-established, attracting pilgrims young and old from all corners of Russia.

The islands exude peace, and despite their grim history, feel like a special, spiritual place. As well as discovering the fascinating history of the islands, visitors can relax, explore the islands by bike, go whale watching, and enjoy being in a unique, unspoilt place that few Westerners visit.

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Audley Travel specialist John

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Map of Solovetsky Islands

Places & hotels on the map