Pyramiden in 2012
Pyramiden ([pʏrɑˈmìːdən]; Russian: Пирами́да, tr. Piramida) (literally The Pyramid) is an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. 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, the cold climate preserving much of what has been left behind.
Since 2007, there have been efforts to make it a tourist attraction; the town's hotel was renovated and reopened in 2013. In summer there is a population of six caretakers, two from Russia and four from Ukraine as of 2016.
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 after the pyramid-shaped mountain with the same name 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) southwest and the small research community of Ny-Ålesund, 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the west. In Soviet times, the population was mostly Ukrainian, consisting of miners from Donbass and staff from Volyn.
Owned by the state-owned Russian mining company Arktikugol Trust, which also owns the settlement of Barentsburg, Pyramiden once had over 1,000 inhabitants. Among its amenities were a cultural center with a theater, a library, art and music studios; a sports complex; and a cantina open 24 hours a day. It also had a primary school. The northernmost monument to Vladimir Lenin and the northernmost swimming pool are also located here.
In 1996, a charter flight for Arktikugol crashed on the approach to Svalbard with the loss of 141 lives. On 31 March 1998, the last coal was extracted from the mine and the last permanent resident left by October 10.
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.. In 2012, Aleksandr Romanovsky became the first person to return to live in Pyramiden, and has since been joined by five others. Romanovsky has called himself the world's most northern head-banger'.
On August 27, 2019, the world's northernmost film festival was held here, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Soviet cinema.
Pyramiden is accessible by boat or snowmobile from Longyearbyen, either as part of a guided tour or independently. There is also the Pyramiden Heliport. There are no restrictions on visiting Pyramiden, still owned by Arktikugol Trust, 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 artifacts have become a serious threat to Pyramiden as it contributes to the accelerating deterioration of the buildings.
Tours through many buildings are available upon request at the Tulip Hotel. The movie theater has been restored to fully functioning, and movies may now be booked on request. An archive of over 1000 Soviet films lies well preserved in the storerooms on the site.
Since 2007, 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 tourists visiting from Longyearbyen.
As of 2013[update], the Tulip hotel has been reopened and it is possible to stay overnight in Pyramiden. The Tulip hotel also houses the Pyramiden Museum. There was a small hotel built of old shipping containers near the harbour, but this has closed since the hotel is now renovated and open for guests. There are no plans to renovate and reopen the whole settlement.
- Pyramiden 2016 film
- Overrein, Øystein; Henriksen, Jørn; Johansen, Bjørn Fossli; Prestvold, Kristin. "Pyramiden [78° 39.3' N 16° 20' E]". The Cruise Handbook for Svalbard. Norwegian Polar Institute. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
- Sveriges okända ockupation. Populär Historia, 14 March 2001. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
- "Архипелаг никак" (retrieved April 19, 2015)
- Максим Беспалов. Український Шпіцберген. Київ, "Темпора". 2017. с. 162–169. ISBN 9786175693162
- Остров Шпицберген: место, где не рождаются и не умирают люди
- The Cold Rim of the World. Longreads, March 2015.
- Umbreit, Andreas. Spitsbergen: Svalbard, Franz Josef, Jan Mayen, 3rd: The Bradt Travel Guide. Bradt Travel Guides, 2005. ISBN 1841620920, 9781841620923. p. 200.
- Visitor report cites plane crash statistics at 3'50"
- Nuwer, Rachel. "A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
- Pulling out of Pyramiden. BBC News, 2 September 2000.
- Interview with Romanovsky
- NGS News Report on film festival, 26 June 2019
- Umbreit, 2009. Page 182.
- Nytt liv for Pyramiden. Svalbardposten, 6 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- Back in Pyramiden, Svalbard Archived 2013-06-18 at the Wayback Machine. Elin Andreassen and Hein B. Bjerck, Ruin Memories. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- Pyramiden travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Media related to Pyramiden at Wikimedia Commons
- Extensive 2016 interview with Aleksandr Romanovsky, one of the six residents of the settlement