Solovetsky Kremlin, Karelia

The first wooden churches of the Solovetsky Kremlin were built on the island in the 30th of the 15 century by the monks Herman and Savvatiy, who came to Solovki in a common boat to found a cloister there. St. Zosima was the first hegumen of the monastery.

Having received from the tsar the charter to the «perpetual tenure of the Solovetsky Islands», the monastery began to quickly develop and by the 18 it became one of the largest landowners in Russia.

In the 16 the Solovetsky Monastery was surrounded with strong walls with watchtowers made of giant boulders. So was shaped the appearance of the monastery, which since then had been called the Solovetsky Kremlin. By its territory the Solovetsky Kremlin is put among the largest monasteries in Russia, and is inferior only to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery.

The average weight of the stone blocks used for the walls and towers of the Solovetsky Kremlin ranged from 5 to 8 tons. The weight of some base blocks reached 20 tons. The interstices were filled with especially strong brick and mortar. 

In most northern towns monasteries were built in about the same manner, but nowhere there was used such a great number of stone blocks.

The durability of the walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin were proved during the Crimea War, when in 1854 the Solovetsky Kremlin was sieged by two English ships of war 'Brisk' and 'Miranda'. For three days they fired at the monastery at a close range, but the cast iron balls caused no damage to the walls and just bounced off from them.

The Solovetsky Kremlin was defended by a small crew of retired soldiers, which were then called the «invalids». They fired at the ships with the guns of the Korozhnaya and Priadilnaya towers, prevented the landing of troops and damaged the mast of 'Miranda'. The captain of the squadron wrote in his memoirs: 'I could have destroyed three towns with the number of balls that were fired at the Solovetsky Kremlin, but it remained intact.' 

They began to build stone churches within the Solovetsky Kremlin in the 16 century. The first stone church, the Assumption Church, were built during 1552-56. And already two years later, in 1554, on the money collected throughout Russia, there was laid down the huge Transfiguration Cathedral. It was built by Russian craftsmen, though by some of its elements it resembles the Gothic cathedrals of Europe. The height of the five-domed Transfiguration Cathedral reaches 40 meters, and the thickness of the walls is 5 meters. The belfry and several other churches of the Solovetsky Kremlin were built in the following centuries.

It will be very interesting to have a tour of the outhouses of the Solovetsky Monastery to how the monastery was technically provided several centuries ago. It was there that a hydroturbine was used to increase the power capacity of the mill for the first time in Russia. For providing a comfortable life in the severe climate there was also used a curious air heating system.

After the Solovetsky Kremlin you should visit the skits of the Solovetsky Monastery, or otherwise your impression of it will be incomplete. Among the places that you must visit are Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, Botanic Garden at the Makarievskaya pustyn and Ascension skit on the Sekirnaya mountain.

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