Arkhangelsk- above the Pomor land
Arkhangelsk is a city of mysteries. Being founded in 1584 by Ivan IV, it is the capital of the Pomor North. The old and the modern live here side by side. Arkhangelsk is the largest city in the Barents Region.
Already from the airplane you get to see a magical breathtaking view of the broad Northern Dvina River winding in between two banks sparkling with lights. The river is cut by various islands covered by forests. The biggest island is Krasnoflotsky, you can easily spot it from the bird’s eye view of the city. It is stuffed with small wooden cottages - here Arkhangelsk citizens escape from the hustling city life during the weekends and holidays.
You arrive to a small local airport, the most interesting feature of which is that you have to get your luggage in a small wooden house near the main airport building. Taking a taxy can save you some time as buses go every 20-30 minutes, though if you want to get real Russian experience, take a bus! On the way to the city you are passing the industrial zone, some deserted valleys, forests and in around 20 minutes you are in the city center.
The center of Arkhangelsk, as foreigners say, reminds of Europe – big shopping malls, hotels, lots of small cafes, where you can have a cup of delicious coffee in its different kinds, and cozy restaurants serving both traditional Russian dishes as well as European cuisine. Definitely, places worth visiting are Blin-House (where you can taste traditional Russian food and crapes with filling from meat and chicken to apples and cottage cheese) and Italiansky Dvotik (Italian Yard) (serving Italian food – from pizza to complex fish and meat dishes). Every time when you are planning a trip it is important to choose the right hotel. If you want quality and do not want to pay much the Dvina hotel will be a suitable choice. But if you would like to taste some luxary – Pur-Navolok on the river bank will appeal to you without any doubt.
Like most of the cities Arkhangelsk has some sights, which are obligatory for you to see. First of all take a walk on the river embankment. Here you are sure to see a huge monument to the soldiers died during the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 and the Eternal fire; the building of the main Regional Scientific Arkhangelsk library named after Nikolai Dobrolubov, a famous Russian writer, poet and philosopher. Next to it is located the River Yacht club ‘Vodnik’, which looks really attractive in summer with its numerous boats and yachts of different sizes and colors. Right on the bank of the river in front of the Yacht club a white cathedral is rising above the water with its golden crosses glittering in the Sun. The cathedral bears the name of the Virgin Assumption and is relatively new (it was built in 2008). If you walk toward the River port you will find another church, which is much older. It was built to St. Nicholas in the XV century. Next to the church you will find several museums, for example the State Northern Marine museum, the Guest yards, the Museum of the Arctic exploration, the House of Plotnicova.
Arkhangelsk is the only city in Russia bearing a name of an angel Arkh-ANGEL. It was named after Arkhangel Michal. Due to this fact, there used to be a lot of churches and cathedrals, today a number is left, some of them are under reconstruction. For example a Cathedral to Arkhangel Michael is being built from scratch on the central square near the River port. Here it must be mentioned that during the reign of Peter the Great Arkhangelsk used to be the trade hub and the main port of Russia. During the history Arkhangelsk had a tight cooperation connection with the Northern Norway, every year huge Norwegian boats loaded with cod would come to Arkhangelsk for the traditional Margaritinskaya fair, which by the way still takes place in Arkhangelsk in September-October.
When you finally reached the River port here you can take a bus-ride to the most popular tourist attraction in Arkhangelsk – Museum of wooden architecture Malie Kareli. Here you will find different wooden monuments brought here from all over the region, taking a nice walk in the forest. Probably you are lucky enough to meet old grannies (babushka) traditionally dressed and speaking on a Pomor dialect. If you ask them who are Pomors (This is the question bothering most of the tourists coming here), they would tell you a long story about the first settlers of Finno-Ugric tribes and their descendants – Pomors, people settling on the coast of the White Sea, engaged in fishing, ship-building and sailing.
If you got hungry during the walk, you can drop into a café located right on the museum territory and have some Russian traditional crapes with cloudberry, cranberry or raspberry jam.
Arkhangelsk is rich in sights and attractions but your experience will not be complete without traveling around the region. For example visiting the Solovetsky archipelago in the White Sea can change you whole impression of Russia. It is a unique place full of magic and energy. Though the archipelago has dark pages in its history during the Soviet period, religious orthodox reforms and wars, it is a unique combination of things to offer. You can get a lot of knowledge here taking an excursion around the Solovetsky Monastery founded in the XVI century or to the islands of the archipelago, each having its monuments, its unique type of nature and characteristics. Or you can go for a long walk from one coast of the island to the other enjoying fresh air and wild untouched nature. When you get tired just rest on one of the numerous lakes (there are more 600 on the archipelago). You can choose the way to get to the archipelago – by water or by air, both are really exciting. Still, if you are seasick take an airplane and enjoy the green patched view of the islands, lakes, canals and, of course, the White Sea.
If you do not have much time to travel go to one of the towns or villages of the Arkhangelsk region, such as Kargopol, Holmogory or Pinega.
Arkhangelsk is a different world in different seasons. In winter everything is covered in snow, the river gets frozen and becomes a perfect place for skiing, snow-mobiling and kite-surfing. There is no Polar night here, though it gets darker than usual and we still get 3-5 hours of light. Spring and summer bring warm temperatures and a lot of light, coming here in June gives you an unforgettable experience of Northern white nights. During this period of the year you can travel on a boat or a ship along the river enjoying the view of the city covered in green trees and a great amount of people walking on the river embankment. Autumn is colorful, especially if you make up your mind to travel around the region you will be amazed by the calm beauty of the countryside. During this multicolored season many go to the forest to pick mushrooms and berries.
So, choose a season, come to Arkhangelsk and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Russian North!