Scrap heap meets visitors to World Heritage site

Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Solovki: Scrap metal, oil-barrels, chemicals leaked into the soil and various waste. This is what meets tourists at the newly opened cruise port at Solovki. Here, Arkhangelsk authorities hope to boost international tourism.


Sailing in to Solovki in the White Sea is a unique scenery with the Monastery rising like a fairytale castle between the water and they sky. Only so if you look from the starboard side of the ship. An scrap heap that covers the soil sprinkled with oil- and chemical waste is what you have on the port side.

The new and extended cruise port at Solovki is one of several initiatives to increase tourism. The pier is located in walking distance from the island’s main attraction, the holy Monastery. The waste dump starts just a few meters from the pier and covers and huge area from the shoreface to the forest.

There are no signs of clean-up or plans to rehabilitate the area.  

Solovki is one of only two cultural locations in Barents Russia listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The other is Kizhi Pogost in Karelia. Solovki was included to the list in 1992 because of its “outstanding universal value.”

One of the selection criteria to be included into the list reads “the site must be an outstanding example of traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible.”

Arkhangelsk will next week host a Norwegian, Russian networking meeting with tourism development in the region on the agenda. Vice-Governor of Arkhangelsk, Roman Balashov will then present the region’s plans for tourism destination Solovki. Balashov is the first vice-governor in Arkhangelsk with dedicated responsibility for Solovki.

The meeting is organized by the Norwegian-Russian Chamber of Commerce. The Arkhangelsk meeting will be followed by a study tour to Solovki where Norwegian tourism players will participate.