Russia in eastern Europe and Asia is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Russia’s World Heritage Sites: the Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands.
The Solovetsky Islands in northern Russia are famous for their history and natural beauty, and infamous as the site of the first GULAG slave labor camp in the communist Soviet Union:
The Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands comprises six islands of the Solovetsky Archipelago situated in the western part of the White Sea, 290 km from Arkhangelsk, the centre of Arkhangelsky region.
Founded in the 1430s, the Solovetsky complex is an outstanding example of the tenacity, courage and diligence of monks of the Russian Orthodox Church in the inhospitable environment of Northern Europe. The complex is unique in its integrity and safeguarding of its religious, residential, domestic, defence and waterside constructions, its road network and irrigation systems of the Middle Ages harmoniously blended with the surrounding natural and cultural landscapes as well as archeological sites that reflect the ancient and medieval culture of the islands for six thousand years. The Solovetsky complex represents all periods of the history of the archipelago and the Russian North in general.
The Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Archipelago comprises a monastery-fortress of 15th to the early 20th centuries, a former monastic village of 16th to the early 20th centuries, cells and hermitages of 16th to the early 20th centuries, insular hydraulic and irrigation systems, sacred sites and dozens of settlements of 6 to the first millennia BC, groups of memorial constructions of the Solovetsky Special Prison Camp of 1923–1939 and the surrounding natural and cultural landscapes throughout the archipelago.
The heart of the historic and cultural complex of the archipelago is the architectural ensemble of the Solovetsky Monastery, which is a holistic unique architectural complex. Its constructions are characterized by their monumentality, individuality and integrity of all components resulting from the centuries-old tradition of building.
The Solovetsky historic and cultural complex is the only large set of monuments in northern latitudes, built from local boulders in combination with rare brick and forge iron produced on Solovki. The peculiar linear design of the facade and high density of buildings on small areas contribute to the integrity and architectural expression of the ensemble. The fortress is the only Russian fortification complex built with the use of large boulders, which adds greatly to its individuality.
The Solovki is often recognized by the public as one of the first and best known Soviet special purpose camps of the GULAG. The islands have been used as a place of exile since the 17th century. (World Heritage Centre #632)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures have you been exploring in your homeschool this Leo Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇷🇺
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏