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.

Photo Gallery
View All (37)
At sunset the Solovetsky Kremlin is reflected in the waters of the Welfare Bay of the White Sea
Archangel Tower and the walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin on the side of the Holy Lake
St. Nicholas Gate and the big boulders at the base of the St. Nicholas Tower of the Solovetsky Kremlin
All walls and towers of the Solovetsky Kremlin are built of such huge boulders (6-8 tonnes each)
Churches and towers of the Solovetsky Kremlin as viewed from the White Sea
St. Nicholas Gate between the St. Nicholas Tower and the Kvass-making Tower on the side of the Holy Lake
Wall of the Solovetsky Kremlin facing the White Sea, with the Holy Gate (on the right), the Assumption Tower (in the center), and the Korozhnaya (watch tower) Tower (on the hill).
Dry moat faced with boulders on the side of the Korozhnaya Tower and the St. Nicholas Tower of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Walls and churches of the Solovetsky Kremlin as viewed from the southern shore of the Welfare Bay
In the 19 century in front of the wall of the Solovetsky Kremlin facing the White Sea there were built 3 chapels – Peter´s, Constantine´s, and the pavilion chapel
In the rays of the setting sun the walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin are tinged with orange colour 
Square building in the wall of the Solovetsky Kremlin is called «Sushilo». It is near the «Portomoynia» (laundry).
Wall and the monastic buildings of the Solovetsky Kremlin overlooking the bay of the White Sea
Korozhnaya Tower of the Solovetsky Kremlin is on the hill, and it was on this tower that the cannons to defend the monastery were placed
Transfiguration cathedral of the 16 century and the bell tower are the main buildings of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Monastery courtyard within the walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Arch of the entrance to the Transfiguration cathedral of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Open gallery is a passage from the Refectory to the Transfiguration cathedral 
All walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin are built of huge boulders weighing many tonnes 
Refectory of the Solovetsky Kremlin (16 century). Its ceiling is supported by one pillar and its area is only a bit less than that of the Palace of Facets at the Moscow Kremlin
Miracle-making «Bread» Icon of the Mother of God (second on the right) appeared at the Solovetsky Kremlin in the 16 century
Wall of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Entranceway from the wall of Solovetsky Kremlin into the artillery battery of the Spinnery Tower
Artillery battery, which defended the monastery from the English warships in the 19 century
Reconstructed interior of the Annunciation church (16 century), located over the Holy Gate of the Solovetsky Monastery
Vaults of the Transfiguration cathedral, the main church of the Solovetsky Monastery
«Solovki – Russian Golgotha» museum devoted to the tragic pages in the history of the Solovlki, when there was located the special purpose prison camp
Necropolis of the Solovetsky Monastery – the burial place of (grave with the tomb) of the last koshevoy ataman (hetman) of the Zaporizhian Sich (camp of cossacks), who was the prisoner in the Solovki from 1776 through 1803 and died there in the age of 110
Small inner courtyard between the Transfiguration cathedral and the St. Nicholas church
Courtyard of the Solovetsky Monastery among the household buildings: mill, sushilo, portomoynia (laundry) and store-houses
Near the Archangel tower of the Solovetsly Monastery there were located the prison cells of the tsarist period
Support buildings of the mill of the Solovetsky Monastery. It was there that first water turbine in Russia was installed to increase the power of the mill.
Domes of the churches of the Solovetsky Monastery
Dry water-filled dock at the walls of the Solovetsky Kremlin used to moor and, if necessary, repair ships
Buildings of the Solovetsky Kremlin
Old bells of the Solovetsky Kremlin – the Polish bell on the right (it was always at the monastery museum), and the bell given to the monastery by the Russian Emperor Alexander
Solovetsky Monastery as viewed from the ship coming in the Welfare Bay