June 26, 2014

1115, 1116 RUSSIA (Arkhangelsk Oblast) - Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (UNESCO WHS)

The Solovetsky Islands (or Solovki) are a group of six islands located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, with a population of only 861 inhabitants. They have been the setting of the Russian Orthodox Solovetsky Monastery complex, founded in the second quarter of the 15th century by two monks from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. The existing stronghold and its major churches were erected in stone during the early reign of Ivan the Terrible at the behest of St. Philip of Moscow.


By the end of the 16th century, the abbey had emerged as one of the wealthiest landowners and most influential religious centres in Russia. At the onset of the Schism of the Russian Church, the monks staunchly stuck to the faith of their fathers and expelled the tsar's representatives from the Solovki, precipitating the eight-year-long siege of the islands by the forces of Tsar Alexis. The architectural ensemble of the Solovetsky Monastery is located on the shores of the Prosperity Bay on Solovetsky Island, and is surrounded by massive walls with 7 gates and 8 towers, made mainly of huge boulders up to 5 m in length.

 The heart of the complex is the monastery itself, in three parts: the central square with its complex of monumental buildings, and the northern and southern courtyards devoted to domestic and craft activities. The central square is flanked by the Church of the Assumption, in Novgorod style with its refectory and cellarage, the Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral, the Bell Tower (1776-1777), the Church of St Nicholas (1831-1833), and the Holy Trinity, Zosimus and Sabbath Cathedral (1859).

The north courtyard complex includes high-quality craft buildings, including the icon workshop (1615), the tailors' and cobblers' workshops (1642), storerooms, the Father Superior's lodgings, and a 17th-century leather-dressing cellar. In the south courtyard area are a drying barn, a mill, a wash-house and a bath-house. Between 1929 and 1939 it was turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp, which served as a prototype for the Gulag system.

About the stamps
The first stamps on both postcards are a joint issue between the Principality of Monaco and the Russian Federation, issued on December 5, 2013, and named History of automobile manufacturing:
• the stamp of Monaco depicts the Sunbeam Alpine (15 RUB) - It's on the postcard 1116
• the Russian stamp features the ZIL-111V limousine (15 RUB) - It's on the postcard 1115

The last stamps on both postcards are part of the first set of the series The History of the Russian Uniform, issued on November 8, 2013, and consisting of four stamps, all with the same face value (15 RUB):
• a dragoon and an officer of the police / 1718 - It's on the postcard 1116
• a policeman of the urban force and a Rotmistr of the Special Corps of Gendarmes / the end of 19th century - It's on the postcard 1115
• a female traffic-controller and a Starshina of the Militsiya / 1934 - It's on the postcard 1307
• a Starshiy Leytenant and a Major general of the Police of Russia / 2012

Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands - UNESCO official website
Solovetsky Islands - Wikipedia

Sender 1115, 1116: Max Maksimov (direct swap)
Sent from Petrozavodsk (Republic of Karelia / Russia), on 01.06.2014
Photo 1: V. Larionova
Photo 2: M. Sirilova 

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