The next morning we were back on the buses. Again there were three buses, each of which took different routes so that we wouldn't all pile into the same places at the same times.

One thing that we didn't figure out until later is that many of the sights we visited were within walking distance of the ship!

Picture

Narrative

Pomorskaya Street

Pomorskaya Street is an open-air museum of old Arkhangelsk wooden houses. Many of the houses were moved here to preserve them. Some had been turned into restaurants and some were still used as residences.

The street also has numerous sculptures including the ones below:

Funny man Stepan Pisakhov, with his drunken cat, was a local artist and story-teller. Our guide had read us one of his surreal stories on our first day's outing. It is considered good luck to shake his hand.
Nalim Malinich

This happy fisherman is Nalim Malinich, a fairy-tale character.

Our guide told us that, possibly due to the high northern location and long, dark, frozen winters, Arkhangelsk denizens have a piquant sense of humor and sense of the ridiculous.
Gostiny Dvor, Arkhangelsk

Another stop on our tour was Gostiny Dvor, or merchants' court. It dates from the 17th century and is the oldest surviving building in Arkhangelsk. Shops were located on the ground floor, residences and storehouses on the floor above.

Gostiny Dvor, Arkhangelsk

The residential apartments, which are on the left, opened onto this gallery. The building is now a museum. Solid steel doors and bars on the windows (the steel shutters have been removed here), show that theft was a real fear.

Wedding crowns

Given the number of weddings we had already seen (there would be more), I couldn't resist taking a picture of these traditional wedding crowns in the museum. The hats with the finials are for men, the "tiaras" were for women.

This museum was worth a longer visit -- as much for the building as for the exhibits.

Afghanistan war memorial

The next place that we visited was the war memorial to those who perished in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Their war went on almost as long as ours and was as inconclusive.

This place was not really on the tour. It was adjacent to the sight we were brought to see, which was a cemetery dedicated to the British soldiers and sailors who came to Russia's aid in WWI.

We had not expected to see a number of places commemorating western forces who had assisted the Far North of Russia in various conflicts.

Nearby was a local cemetery. See below for a couple of the burial plots.

Cemetery
These graves were well-tended. The metal enclosures appeared to be pretty much universal.
Cemetery These were not. Presumably the family had moved away or just lost interest. There is no such thing as "perpetual care" in Russia.
Church of St. Nicolas, Arkhangelsk

We visited the Church of St. Nicolas, which had some really stunning brickwork on the exterior. This is just a sample. The picture at the link shows more.

 

St. Nicolas interior The interior of the church was beautiful.
Solovetsky Guesthouse, Arkhangelsk

In its heyday the Solovetsky Monastery, which we would be visiting next, maintained a guest house in Arkhangelsk where pilgrims could reside until they could catch a boat to the island monastery. It was only a couple of blocks from the St. Nicholas church.

Malye Korely Open-Air Museum Greeter

After lunch we were back on the buses for a visit to the Malye Korely Open-Air Museum. The museum is similar to Kizhi in that buildings were brought here from elsewhere and reassembled into theme areas. It was, however, much larger. We only saw a small portion of it.

We were met at the entrance by the lovely guides, each offering a loaf of delicious bread.

House at Malye Korely

There was a lot to see at the museum, but I'll focus on this particular house. It was larger and more elaborate than most, and I particularly liked the details. It had been the home of a prosperous peasant or "kulak" and his family. The house dated from the early 20th century.

I should have made better notes at the time, but I believe several generations of the family lived in this house. We were told the significance of the "sunburst" hanging over the front door, but I no longer remember what it was.

After the revolution the rich peasants came in for special persecution. The result of suppressing the prime agricultural producers was (predictably) years of famine that killed many. Our lecturers told us that this devastation was expected and welcomed by the Soviet elite who felt that the destabilization was key to establishing their new society. Lenin in fact recruited Stalin because of his ruthlessness.

Log fitting  

The logs were shaped to fit together as closely as possible. You wouldn't want a drafty house in this climate.

 

Moss Caulking The joints were "caulked" with moss.
Window drains

The windows were "double-paned." Even so, condensation would build up on the inside of the window glass, so there was a channel to capture water so that it wouldn't run over the sills and down the walls causing rot. I didn't see any kind of drainage system, so I suspect the housewife would periodically mop up any captured condensate.

Gutters

The gutter-hangers were carved in the shape of horses. All of the buildings had extensive stylized decoration.

Gutter detail

Another gutter with details showing the decorative "gingerbread" bargeboard and the distinctive shape of the gutters, which were crafted from a single log.

Where I grew up similar gutters would be made from rot-resistant cypress. I don't know what kind of wood was used here.

Swing

It wasn't all work-work-work in the Russian villages. This sturdy swing got lots of use. This youngster had escaped from a wedding party that was celebrating at the museum. Our museum guide told us that it is a very popular location for wedding festivities.

Dacha

On our way back to the city, we passed numerous "dachas" or country homes. Our guide Elena, who grew up not far from St. Petersburg, said that many families had such country homes -- not just the party elite. The families needed the land to grow vegetables to supplement their diets. They also used to hunt for mushrooms and other wild foods in the forests.

She said that in those days all the houses were pretty much like this one. Nowadays richer city dwellers are building larger and fancier vacation homes.

Dvina River and St. Michael's Church, Arkhangelsk

After our village tour we returned to the ship, which shortly thereafter embarked on its way to Solovetski.

We sailed down the Northern Dvina River past this church under construction. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the patron of Arkhangelsk.

Wind surfer

We were accompanied part of the way by this "kitesurfer" who swooped around our ship. I worried that he would fall in front of it and we wouldn't be able to turn or stop in time, but there were no mishaps.

Apartment Houses

In addition to a lot of industrial spaces, we passed this new development. Homeownership in Russia is very high with the vast majority of families owning apartments (>80%). These are the nicest we saw on the entire trip.

Many of the Arkhangelsk dwellings were more like the smaller grey wooden building to the right -- only more decrepit. Our guide said that they were being redeveloped as time and money allow, but the owners of the individual units had to be compensated or resettled. When I asked about the status of private property in Russia, the only answer I got was "it's complicated." I'll bet it is.

Click your "back" button to return.