Kem (town)

Kem (town)

Kem (Russian: Кемь, Finnish: Vienan Kemi) is a historic town in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, located on the railroad leading from Petrozavodsk to Murmansk. Population: 14,620 (2002 Census). The town is located on the shores of the White Sea, where the Kem River enters it.

Kem was first mentioned as a demesne of the Novgorod posadnik Marfa Boretskaya in 1450, when she donated it to the Solovetsky Monastery (situated in the White Sea several kilometers off shore). In 1657, a wooden fort was erected there.

Also wooden is the town's remarkable cathedral, built in 1711–1717. It is a fine example of the tented roof-construction so popular in old Russian architecture. The cathedral's iconostasis features precious 17th-century century icons from Novgorod.

Kem was used as departure place for boats headed to Solovki carrying political prisoners from 1926 to 1939. During the Cold War, the town has been the site of Poduzhemye air base, a key interceptor aircraft airfield covering Karelia.

See also

  • Pomors—the local settlers.
  • Solovki—a picturesque archipelago off shore from Kem.
  • Kondopoga—site of another wooden church.
  • Kizhi—museum of old Russian wooden archicture.

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