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Abandoned town
Пирамида (Russian)
Piramida Svalbard IMG 6283.JPG
Pyramiden is located in Svalbard
Coordinates: 78°41′N 16°24′E / 78.683°N 16.400°E / 78.683; 16.400
Country Norway
Territory Svalbard
Island Spitsbergen
Population (2013)
 • Total 0[Note 1]

Pyramiden (meaning "the pyramid" in most Scandinavian languages; called Пирамида, Piramida, in Russian) is a Russian settlement and coal mining community on the archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. Founded by Sweden in 1910 and sold to the Soviet Union in 1927, Pyramiden was closed in 1998 and has since remained largely abandoned with most of its infrastructure and buildings still in place. Since 2007 there have been efforts to make it a tourist attraction.


Pyramiden was founded by Sweden in 1910 and sold to the Soviet Union in 1927. It lies at the foot of the Billefjorden on the island of Spitsbergen and is named for the pyramid-shaped mountain adjacent to the town. The nearest settlements are Svalbard's capital, Longyearbyen, some 50 kilometres (31 mi) to the south, Barentsburg approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) south-west and the small research community of Ny-Ålesund, 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the west.

It is named after a nearby mountain which resembles a pyramid.[1]

Owned by the state-owned Russian mining company Trust Arktikugol, which also owns the settlement of Barentsburg, Pyramiden once had a population of over 1,000 inhabitants. On March 31, 1998, the last coal was extracted from the mine and the last permanent resident left by October 10.[2] Until 2007, Pyramiden was practically a ghost town where, within the buildings, things remained largely as they were when the settlement was abandoned in a hurry.[3]

A book has been written about Pyramiden by Norwegian author Kjartan Fløgstad.[4] A recent episode of the History Channel programme Life After People featured Pyramiden. It predicted that due to the low rate of decay in a frigid climate, the abandoned town's major buildings would be visible 500 years from now.[5]

The world's northernmost grand piano is located at Pyramiden; a "Red October" (Красный октябрь)[6] grand piano is located in the auditorium of the cultural centre. In fact, the list of "northenmost" things may be arbitrarily long: the northernmost monument to Vladimir Lenin, the northernmost swimming pool, etc. [1]

Pyramiden today[edit]

Pyramiden is accessible by boat or snowmobile from Longyearbyen, either as part of a guided tour or independently. There are no restrictions on visiting Pyramiden, still owned by Trust Arktikugol, but visitors are not allowed to enter any buildings without permission even if they are open. While most buildings are now locked, breaking into the buildings, vandalism and theft of "souvenirs" have become a serious threat to Pyramiden as it contributes to the accelerating deterioration of the buildings.[7][8]

Since 2007, Trust Arktikugol has been renovating the hotel and upgrading the infrastructure, including building a new power station with diesel generators, in order to accommodate tourists in the old settlement. Up to 30 workers have been living in the settlement year round to maintain the facilities and guide the tourists visiting from Longyearbyen.[9] As of 2013, the Tulip hotel has been reopened and it is possible to stay overnight in Pyramiden. The Tulip hotel also houses a small museum. In addition, there is a small hotel built of old shipping containers near the harbour.[8] However, there are no plans to renovate and reopen the whole settlement.



  1. ^ While Pyramiden has no permanent residents and the settlement remains largely abandoned, there is a small group of workers maintaining the rebuilt infrastructure, running the hotel and giving guided tours to visiting tourists


  1. ^ a b "Архипелаг никак" (retrieved April 19, 2015)
  2. ^ Nuwer, Rachel. "A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Pulling out of Pyramiden. BBC News, 2 September 2000.
  4. ^ Fløgstad i Pyramiden : Dagsavisen
  5. ^ A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone. Smithsonian magazine, 19 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  6. ^ "Red October" (Krasny Octyabr)
  7. ^ Umbreit, 2009. Page 182.
  8. ^ a b Nytt liv for Pyramiden. Svalbardposten, 6 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  9. ^ Back in Pyramiden, Svalbard. Elin Andreassen and Hein B. Bjerck, Ruin Memories. Retrieved 2013-04-04.


  • Andreassen, Elin, Hein B. Bjerck, and Bjørnar Olsen. Persistent Memories: Pyramiden - A Soviet Mining Town in the High Arctic. (2010) Tapir Academic Press.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 78°41′N 16°24′E / 78.683°N 16.400°E / 78.683; 16.400