Pyramiden, a mysterious abandoned Russian territory in the heart of the Arctic

Pyramiden, a mysterious abandoned Russian territory in the heart of the Arctic

Pyramiden, a mysterious abandoned Russian territory in the heart of the Arctic

© Manfred Thuerig / 123RF

From glory to decline

Direction the archipelago of Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole, where the town of Pyramiden is located. The history of this city to be discovered on the island of Spitsbergen, the main island, dates back to 1910, when it was created by Sweden, which gave it this name in reference to a pyramid-shaped mountain located nearby.

A few years later, in 1927, the city was bought by the Soviet Union, then in 1931, it became the property of the Russian mining company Trust Arktikougol.

In the 1980s, mining activity was in full swing but at the end of the 1990s, the picture began to darken …

The fall in the price of coal, the difficulty and cost of extracting coal from the mountain and the Russian air disaster at Operafjellet have indeed contributed to the decline in mining activity in Pyramiden. On April 1, 1998, after 53 years of operation, Trust Arktikougol then decided to cease its activities.

A city deserted by its inhabitants and frozen in time

After the announcement of the cessation of mining production, Pyramiden literally emptied itself of its inhabitants who abandoned everything on the spot. More than 20 years after this desertion, one can still visit houses, school, music hall, cultural center, service station and village hall which have been perfectly preserved thanks to the guards present on site. Cups on tables, pianos, newspaper clippings are proof of hasty departures …

At the top of the main avenue of Pyramiden, one can also discover a statue of Lenin who watches over the city and the surrounding glaciers.

Sleep in Pyramiden

The Pyramiden Hotel is the one and only hotel establishment on site. It faces the Nordenskiöld Glacier and welcomes travelers who come to discover this ghost town and its history. Renovated in 2014, it consists of 28 standard rooms displayed at 800 nok, or around 77 euros per night including breakfast, but also 5 family suites accessible for 2,800 nok, or around 273 euros per night, again with breakfast included. All combine modernity and comfort and on the 1st floor there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop.

How to join Pyramiden?

Pyramiden is located 110 km from Longyearbyen, capital of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and the starting point for excursions to the ghost town. In winter, snowmobiles take you to Pyramiden, while in summer several boat companies make round trips to Pyramiden. From December to mid-June, these shuttles no longer operate and it is therefore impossible to reach the former Russian mining town on the list of most scary ghost towns in the world.


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