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 laborers being incarcerated in tortuous conditions.
Around the islands
Listed 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.