In 1429 the first ascetics, the venerable Savvatii and Herman, arrived on the Islands. After six years of the hermit’s life, the monks leave for the mainland-the monk Herman for supplies, and the monk Savvatii feels a near death. In 1435 the monk Savvatii died. The life of the monks on the Islands inspired the future” improvement ” of the monastic life on the archipelago of St. Zosimus. In 1436, having collected the necessary “stock”, Herman and Zosima set sail for the Solovki. This year is considered the year of Foundation of the Solovetsky monastery. In the first century of its existence the monastery was made of wood. None of the buildings of that time has survived to the present day.
The fires prompted the monastery to start stone construction. By this time it became a spiritual and economic center in the North. Significantly increased the number of inhabitants of the monastery, expanded and increased economic monastic services. In 1552, a Refectory complex with the assumption Church was built, and then, with the generous donations of Tsar Ivan the terrible, in 1558 the construction of the Transfiguration Cathedral began.
The initiator of the stone construction was Abbot of the Solovetsky monastery hegumen Philip, later Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia, who made a huge contribution not only to the history of the monastery and in the history of Russia.
Active construction continued throughout the second half of the XVI and the first half of the XVII centuries. In 1583 St. Nicholas Church was built (rebuilt in 1801). To St. Nicholas Church was adjoined by the sacristy, and in 1777 on the site of the dilapidated bell tower belfry was built.
The bells are located on the third tier, and on the second and first until 1923 there was a rich library.
The gallery, built in the early 17th century, United all the buildings of the Central temple complex.
The Central temple complex is surrounded by cell buildings. None of the buildings is not preserved in its original form. All of them were repeatedly rebuilt in the XVIII-XIX centuries. The monuments of the Central complex make up a single ensemble.
In the period from 1582 to 1596 Solovetsky stone regular fortress was built. Its construction was caused by a real threat of Pomor From Sweden in the middle of the XVI century.
In the XVII century the Solovetsky monastery was called “the great sovereign’s fortress”. Legends were made about the size and inaccessibility of the monastery walls. Armament of the fortress was about 100-130 guns, including guns and”monastic casting”.
In the history of the Solovetsky monastery there were only two episodes when the fortress took part in military operations. In the XVII century, after the Church reforms of Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, which were not accepted by the Solovetsky monastery, the Royal troops began the siege of the fortress. This confrontation in historical documents was called “Solovetsky seat”. But for the monastery it ended tragically: the monk Theoktist defector indicated to the Governor a weak spot in the defense, after which the fortress was taken, and the “rebels” brutally executed.
During the Crimean war in July 1854 two British ships “brisk” and “Miranda”approached the monastery. After unsuccessful negotiations began the attack which lasted 9 hours. The fortress walls did not waver, and, according to eyewitnesses, the shells bounced off the walls. Whether it is the mercy of God, or the great work of builders, but the fortress is still standing.
Blown by the cold Northern winds, the walls of the Solovetsky fortress still hold many secrets…
In 1920, with the advent of Soviet power, on the Solovki was organized forced labor camp and the state farm “Solovki”, and in 1923 the Solovki Islands transferred to the state Political Administration and organized on the territory of the archipelago Solovetsky special purpose camp – ELEPHANT.
In 1937, the Solovetsky camp was reorganized into the Solovetsky special purpose prison – STON. For twenty years of “special purpose” through the Solovki were more than 100,000 prisoners. Many of them remained forever lying in the Solovetsky land.
At the end of 1939, the Solovetsky Islands were transferred to The Navy. The monastery, monasteries and deserts housed a training detachment of the Northern Fleet, which for 17 years has trained a huge number of qualified military specialists.
Since 1967, a Museum-reserve has been organized on the Solovetsky Islands. In 1990, the Solovetsky monastery resumed its work.