This tour to the Solovetsky Islands and Kizhi Island is a unique trip deep into the Russian North on which you will see masterpieces of Northern Russian architecture and enthralling scenery. The Solovetsky Islands are just 140km from the Arctic Circle. You will follow the route taken by thousands of pilgrims and then by thousands of prisoners who were sent here during the darker period of the islands' history when the first Gulag camp was established here. Today though the unforgiving northern landscapes, the remoteness of the islands and the disconnection with ‘civilisation' are now drawing tourists here.
You will also visit one of the most amazing examples of Russian wooden architecture – the Transfiguration Church on Kizhi Island. Imagine a 22-domed church, rising up on an island in an enormous lake among beautiful unspoilt natural surroundings. You can’t help but be impressed.
This tour to the Solovetsky Islands and to Kizhi is planned so that you leave from Moscow by train, and finish the tour in St Petersburg, however the tour can be organized in reverse order .
Moscow → Petrozavodsk → Kizhi → Kem → Rabocheostrovsk → Solovki → St Petersburg
1 DAY / DEPARTING MOSCOW
Transfer from your hotel to the railway station. Departure by premium train from Moscow's Leningradsky Station to Petrozavodsk.
Duration: 12 hours
2 DAY / KIZHI ISLAND
Arrival in Petrozavodsk. Transfer to your hotel.
Transfer to Onega Dock.
Upon arrival an excursion around Kizhi Island - the highlights of this tour include:
- Transfiguration Church - this is the most famous and outstanding building of the architectural ensemble. It dates from 1714 and features 22 domes located at various levels. At 27 metres high, it is the height of an 11-storey accommodation block. It is built out of wood and it is often said to have been made without a single nail (although the tiles of the domes do have nails to hold them in place strongly). The church’s iconostasis has four rows and consists of 102 icons, it is believed to date from between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Two of the oldest icons - Transfiguration and Intercession - date from the end of the 17th century.
- Intercession Church – this church was built in 1764 and has eight domes surrounding a central dome. These domes are small in proportion so as not to obscure the neighbouring cathedral. The original iconostasis of the Intercession church has been lost, but in the 1950s restoration work was carried out and icons from the Onega region from the 17th and 18th centuries were installed here.
- The resurrection of Lazarus Church - this church was built sometime between the 14th and 16th century, making it one of the oldest in the Russian North. It was brought to Kizhi from the former Muromsky Monastery in 1959.
- Ovshevnevo House – this 19th-century house was brought to Kizhi from the nearby village of Ovshevnevo. The large two-storey house combines both residential and service premises to meet the needs of the harsh climate and the way of life of local peasants. This type of house is characteristic for 19th-century peasant houses around Lake Onega.
Duration: 1h30 | Transportation: walking excursion
Free time on the island.
Transfer back to Petrozavodsk.
Night in Petrozavodsk.
3 DAY / TRAIN TO KEM
Transfer to the train station. Train to Kem.
Upon arrival in Kem a transfer to the hotel.
Night in Rabocheostrovsk.
4 DAY / KEM - SOLOVKI
Arrival in Kem. Transfer to Rabocheostrovsk.
Ship Departure to Bolshoy Solovetsky Island.
Distance: 45km | Duration: 2h
Arrival at the island's port. Transfer to your hotel.
- Solovetsky Monastery – perhaps the most beautiful monastery in Russia, whose walls are built out of giant boulders. The first Special Designation Camp was located here under Stalin and victims of his repression were sent here.
- Transfiguration Cathedral – the main cathedral in the monastery, which dates from 1566. The walls of the cathedral reach five metres in places and the corner domes look like towers of a fortress. In fact, its architectural design is unique among Russian cathedrals.
- Refectory – this represents the first stone building of the monastery, dating from 1557.
- Solovetsky Prison – from the 16th century onwards prisoners were kept at this remote monastery and up to the Revolution around 500 people were held here. Some of the most famous inmates here include Archpriest Silvester, who fell from favour with Ivan the Terrible, Petro Kalnishevsky, the last hetman of the Zoporozhian Host of Cossacks, Count Pyotr Tolstoy, a statesman of the time of Peter the Great who was banished here when Peter II came to the throne, and Aleksandr Gorozhansky, a member of the Decembrists.
- Solovetsky Mill – considered one of the oldest surviving stone watermills in Russia.
- Annunciation Church – this church dates from 1601 and is the only church whose iconostasis and frescos have survived.
Duration: 3h | Transportation: walking excursion
Night on the island.
5 DAY / SOLOVKY
Excursion to Beluga Cape - the only place in the world where you can watch beluga whales from the shore. At low tide, just twice a day, beluga whales swim close to Beluga Cape and to enjoy the warmer shallow water and at the same time charm spectators with their movements and song. This unique natural spectacle can only be seen in a short period from mid-June to mid-August and only when the tide is out.
Duration: 6-7 hours Transportation: by private car, by a boat
6 DAY / SOLOVKY - RABOCHEOSTROVSK
Departure of a ship to Rabocheostrovsk.
Distance: 45km | Duration: 2h
Arrival in Rabocheostrovsk. Check-in at the hotel in Kem. Night in Kem.
7 DAY / TRAIN TO ST PETERSBURG
Morning transfer from Rabocheostrovsk to the railway station in Kem.
Train to St Petersburg (1st class carriage available)
Upon arrival a transfer to the hotel.
- Optional excursions should be booked before the start of the tour to schedule the itinerary.
- This trip can be organised from the end of May to September. Best time to travel on this route: from the end of June to mid-August.
- It is possible to get to the Solovetsky Islands (or back) by plane via Arkhangelsk.
- You should take into account that there are no luxurious hotels, restaurants, bars or restaurants on the Solovetsky Islands.
- It is recommended to bring sea-sickness medicine with you in case the crossing is rough. In addition, anti-mosquito spray is recommended.
- The programme includes a visit to a working Orthodox monastery, so you should wear the appropriate attire when visiting: for men, this means no shorts and women should cover their heads and wear a long skirt covering their knee – and not trousers.
- There are only a few places which serve food on the island so we recommend you book accommodation with breakfast and evening meal.
- The tour is available in English - other languages upon request.
- During the high season (July - August) and on public holidays we recommend you book the tour in advance as hotel accommodation on the island is very limited.
• CANCELLATION POLICY •
DATE OF CANCELLATION
|FROM 60 TO 45 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||10%|
|FROM 44 TO 15 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||30%|
|FROM 14 TO 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||50%|
|LESS THAN 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||100%|