The Russian North has been considered sanctuary of Russian culture from time
immemorial. Artists and poets adore the northern nature and the people able
to preserve the purity and richness of their inward integrity.
Arkhangelsk is a city with rich historical background. Historically, its favourable
geographical position contributed to its becoming major sea and river port.
In the 14th century (or, according to other sources, in the 12th), Novgorodians
built here Monastery of Archangel Michael. Surrounded by settlements and quays,
it is considered to be founded by St. John, the archbishop of Novgorod. In 1419
the monastery was devastated by Swedes. It caught fire in 1636 to be rebuilt
in a new place.
On 4 March 1583, Ivan the Terrible signed an edict authorizing the construction
of the city on the right bank of the Northern Dvina, namely, on the cape of
Pur-Navolok close to Monastery of Archangel Michael. It took the founders one
year 1584 to execute the edict.
Since wood was then the main building material, the city was vulnerable to fires.
After the most extensive one, in 1667, Arkhangelsk started, later in the 17th
century, to be rebuilt in stone. One of the first stone structures to appear
was Gostiny Dvory (medieval trading establishments) which functioned as a fortress,
warehouses and trading area. The rebuilding process took 16 years and completed
In the age of Peter the Great, Arkhangelsk became a cradle of the Russian
naval and merchant shipping. During his first visit to Arkhangelsk in 1693,
the Tsar founded a shipyard on the Solombala Island.