"The Solovetsky Islands (Russian: Соловецкие острова), or Solovki (Соловки), are an archipelago located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, Russia. Area: 347 square kilometers (134 sq mi). "
( The Solovki Encyclopedia )
It is not difficult to write a guidebook. You take a map of a specific area, describe it's history, attractive landscapes, well-known monuments and outline places of interest worth visiting. It is helpful to add beautiful photos, readable maps, appropriate advertisements, phone numbers and recommendations for tourists. In other words, all that is necessary for a comfortable stay in an unfamiliar place.
If you are reading this introduction, it is safe to assume that you have an online copy of the Solovki guidebook. Solovki is probably one of the most uncommon places in the world. As a result this online guidebook could also be called "the walking labyrinth", where each turn opens an unbelievable new experience. This small site contains hypotheses, entertaining facts, scientific data, a photo-gallery and a guide simultaneously. In reality this site is the attempt to answer the question, repeated asked by the author himself: What does Solovki mean to the people?
This question gives no rest for people of past centuries. For now I prefer the answer of my old friend: "Solovki is the spiritual heart of Russia". There is a strong probability that this person is right. But his phrase explains nothing. The labor camp slogan "Today Solovki; tomorrow all of Russia" also explains nothing. Many natural and historical phenomenon complicate matters. There are ancient labyrinths, "the military monastery", the cold White Sea with ships and boats, islands with mountains and lakes, the unique microclimate and ecology, white whale herds and bird flocks, primeval forest and the tundra.
As our own understanding and attention to Solovki evolves, we may even gain a better understanding of the Russian people and feel deeper towards Russia – a great country positioned between two continents.
Russians believe that Solovki is a huge linen woven from spiritual forces and weakness, human happiness and universal grief, will power and treachery, lies and truth, whispering surf and glorious sunsets, silvery fish and sounds of rustling wings. This linen is pierced by heather roots, sun's rays, Illuminated by northern lights, covered with snow, blood, vodka and rains.
Oh the mystical world of Solovki, covered with hues of the northern sky and cooled by White Sea winds, awaits you with charming stories as never heard before.
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