The snow-topped wooden architecture of Arkhangelsk makes for a charming alternative view of Russia – with the surrounding lakes and alpine forests giving this northwestern coast more of a Nordic feel and appearance than the country's eastern reaches. This capital of the Russian North has always been a major port for the country – whether during the start of its trade with northern Europe, its importance as a strategic port during the Second World War, or as the starting point for many expeditions to the North Pole.
The primary draws in Arkhangelsk are its beautiful examples of wooden Pomor architecture, as well as its legacy as a trade port between Russia and northern Europe. Beyond the statues and war memorials of the town's soviet past are a good number of museums and religious buildings, making this port a great destination for those looking for a more rounded view of Russia.
Tour of Arkhangelsk
Visitors to Arkhangelsk may have the chance to tour the city during an overview excursion, where you'll be able to see sights like the monument to Peter the Great, the Assumption church, and a museum based in the historic Merchant Yard which traces the history of the city. There are also war memorials in the city commemorating the deaths of British and native soldiers who fought during the north Russian campaign of the First World War.
Be sure to take a trip to see the open-air museum of Malye Korely on the outskirts of the city, which is home to the largest collection of wooden architecture in Europe. A wander around the traditional Pomor mills, barns, churches and bell towers promises to give you a real look at an authentic Russian village of the past – a time when houses had to be built using nothing but axes, which still stand to this day.
For a more personal look at the rich tradition and heritage of the Russians who settled on the White Sea, you may have the chance to take a guided excursion to the Pomor Handicrafts Centre. Here you'll be able to learn first-hand about local traditional art, and participate in workshops where you'll be able to make your own souvenir – learning how the locals would once create their own wooden tools and kitchenware. Your trip to the centre is rounded off with tea, pies and cakes before you return to your ship.
Shopping in Arkhangelsk
No trip to a traditional Russian town would be complete without browsing around some traditional Russian crafts – and the beautiful, naturally-inspired fabrics, boxes and painted wooden carvings available in the town could make for some wonderful souvenirs of your adventure to this beautiful part of Russia.
Eating Out in Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk takes a lot of pride in its cultural heritage, and this is clear in the quality and the style of the local food. Many restaurants exhibit traditional Pomor interiors and cuisine, and the fresh seafood and locally brewed beer often comes highly recommended. The warmth and hospitality of the local people is often commented upon – and what better way to experience this than by tucking into a hearty meal?