Coordinates: 78°39′22″N 16°19′30″E / 78.65611°N 16.32500°E / 78.65611; 16.32500
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pyramiden in 2012
Pyramiden in 2012
Pyramiden is located in Svalbard
Coordinates: 78°39′22″N 16°19′30″E / 78.65611°N 16.32500°E / 78.65611; 16.32500
 • Total6 (During summer)

Pyramiden (Norwegian: [pʏrɑˈmîːdn̩]; Russian: Пирами́да, romanized: Piramída, IPA: [pʲɪrɐˈmʲidə]; literally 'The Pyramid') is an abandoned Soviet coal mining settlement on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard which has become a tourist destination. 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 the infrastructure 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.[1]


Pyramiden was founded by Sweden in 1910[2] and sold to the Soviet Union in 1927.[3] 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.[4] 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 the Donbas and staff from Volyn.[5][6]

Owned by the state-owned Russian mining company Arktikugol, which also owns the settlement of Barentsburg, Pyramiden once had over 1,000 inhabitants. Among its amenities were a cultural centre with a theater, a library, art and music studios; a sports complex; and a cantina open 24 hours a day.[7] It also had a primary school.[8]: 200  The northernmost monument to Vladimir Lenin[9] and the northernmost swimming pool were also found here.[4]

In 1996, a charter flight for Arktikugol crashed on the approach to Svalbard Airport with the loss of 141 lives.[10]

Between 1955 and 1998, as much as nine million tonnes of coal were extracted from the mine.[11] Mining ceased on 31 March 1998 and the settlement closed that same year. The last permanent resident departed on 10 October, leaving Pyramiden as a ghost town.[12]

Until 2007, the former settlement remained uninhabited and largely untouched. The buildings' interiors remained largely as they were when the settlement was abandoned.[13] In 2012, Aleksandr Romanovsky became the first person to return to live in Pyramiden. He has since been joined by five others. Romanovsky, a musician and tour guide in the settlement, has called himself the "world's most northern head-banger". Romanovsky has lived for years on his own in this abandoned town.[14][15][16]

On 27 August 2019, the world's northernmost film festival was held in Pyramiden, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Soviet cinema.[17]

White writing above the abandoned coal mine. It says "Peace to the world!" in Russian (Миру мир! [ru]). The phrase was commonly used in Soviet state-owned projects.
Company sign
Abandoned buildings
Gym inside the Pyramiden miners' housing complex from the ship


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, 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 artefacts have become a serious threat to Pyramiden as it contributes to the accelerating deterioration of the buildings.[8]: 182 [18]

Pyramiden is maintained as a tourist destination by Arctic Travel Company Grumant, a division of Arktikugol. Tours through many buildings are available upon request at the Pyramiden Hotel. The movie theatre has been restored to fully functioning, and movies may now be booked on request. An archive of over 1000 Soviet films is preserved in the storerooms on the site.[19]

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.[20]

As of 2013, the Pyramiden hotel has been reopened and it is possible to stay overnight in Pyramiden.[21] The hotel also houses the Pyramiden Museum as well as a post office and a souvenir shop. 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.[18] There are no plans to renovate and reopen the whole settlement.


  1. ^ Pyramiden 2016 film
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Sveriges okända ockupation. Populär Historia, 14 March 2001. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  4. ^ a b Sokolov-Mitrich, Dimitri [Дмитрий Соколов-Митрич] (22 October 2009). Архипелаг никак [The No-Way Archipelago]. Русский Репортёр [Russian Reporter] (in Russian). No. 40 (119). Archived from the original on 5 September 2016.
  5. ^ Bespalov, Maxim [Максим Беспалов] (2017). Український Шпіцберген [Ukrainian Spitsbergen] (in Ukrainian). Kyïv: Tempora. pp. 162–169. ISBN 978-617-569-316-2.
  6. ^ Остров Шпицберген: место, где не рождаются и не умирают люди
  7. ^ Dickey, Colin (March 2015). "The Cold Rim of the World". Longreads. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  8. ^ a b Umbreit, Andreas (2005). Spitsbergen: Svalbard, Franz Josef, Jan Mayen (3rd ed.). Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks: Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 978-1-84162-092-3. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  9. ^ Ham, Anthony (20 June 2022). "The abandoned Soviet mining town in Norway's Arctic". BBC News.
  10. ^ "Exploring Pyramiden & Barentsburg (Svalbard / Шпицбе́рген)" (Video). YouTube. 7 December 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Pyramiden Coal Mine, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway". Mindat.
  12. ^ Nuwer, Rachel (19 May 2014). "A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  13. ^ Kirby, Alex (2 September 2000). "Pulling out of Pyramiden". BBC News. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  14. ^ Beazley, David (10 October 2016). "Pyramiden, Population 6: The Soviet ghost town frozen in time" (Video). YouTube. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  15. ^ Beazley, David (9 May 2016). "Pyramiden: population 6. The Soviet ghost town frozen in time high in the Arctic | Aeon Videos". Aeon. Retrieved 2023-08-31.
  16. ^ Beazley, David (4 October 2016). "Pyramiden: population 6".
  17. ^ Новосибирец оказался на острове за полярным кругом и открыл древний кинотеатр [Novosibirsk [Novosibirsk's Stanislav Schubert] found himself on an island beyond the Arctic Circle and reopened an ancient cinema] (in Russian). NGS (Shkulev Media Holding). 26 June 2019. NGS News Report on film festival.
  18. ^ a b Nytt liv for Pyramiden. Svalbardposten, 6 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  19. ^ "Northernmost movie theater reopens on Spitsbergen". Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  20. ^ Back in Pyramiden, Svalbard Archived 2013-06-18 at the Wayback Machine. Elin Andreassen and Hein B. Bjerck, Ruin Memories. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  21. ^ "Pyramiden". Store Norske Leksikon (in Norwegian). Retrieved 13 January 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Andreassen, E.; et al. (2010). Persistent Memories: Pyramiden, a Soviet mining town in the high Arctic. Trondheim: Tapir Academic Press. ISBN 9788251924368.

External links[edit]