Abandoned North Pyramiden (Longyearbyen) | CruiseBe
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Abandoned North Pyramiden

Sergey Dolya • 7 minutes read • April 8th, 2016


 is a dormant Russian settlement in 


. Up until 1998, it was the northernmost coal mining district in the world. After many years it was closed because of a combination of circumstances: a fire in the mine caused problems when it came to extinguishing the flames in 1998. Added to the few remaining coal reserves, restorations works were seen as unprofitable.
"Dormant", in contrast to the "abandoned", means that sooner or later people will return to the developing village. It seems that its time is slowly coming. For the revival of Pyramiden, and to turn it into a more tourist friendly zone,  Arcticugol renovated the hotel and partially restored the engineering networks for heat and water supplies, including the sewage system. They opened a restaurant, put new heating boilers and diesel stations at the port into operation, and organized three guest houses for tourists. By the way, a lot of people already come here: people are interested not only in the preserved buildings of the Soviet era but also the unique location of Pyramiden.
The village is often visited by polar bears. Once, a bear made his way to the hotel, found a bar, drank a couple of cans of beer and ate some nuts. The whole village tried to drive it away by throwing chairs and sticks but the bear really enjoyed his new warm 'den'. After that event, the bar at the hotel now offers a "set of polar bear" - two cans of beer and nuts.
Let's take a closer look at everything...

Look how beautiful the port of Pyramiden is . . .  this is a view from the mountain overlooking the port. 

And if you look at the fjord, there is a beautiful view of the glacier behind the buildings:

Despite the apparent closeness of the glacier, it is actually more than 9 miles (15 km) away. Due to the crystal clear air, the distance is not felt here:

Near the port there is an area where mobile communications can be found. People come here to make calls and check the weather forecast on the Internet. For convenience, a booth with a hanging telephone was placed here (of course, it doesn't work, it just hangs for decoration): 

Guests are welcomed by a smartly dressed guide who leads everyone to Pyramiden and maintains the settlement, to keep everything in order. 
This was our tour:

Tracks, raised a meter above ground, pass through Pyramiden. It was not made for esthetic purposes; there are communication wires under the covering. During the Soviet era, because of the heat from the heating network, ice and snow didn't last long on the "boxes", so they were used as a sidewalk:

During the polar night, lights illuminated the tracks:

Alas, there is a lot of work to be done in Pyramiden. If you move slightly to the side, you'll see the old, destroyed communications of the village and mine.
By the way, Arktikugol welcomes volunteers who want to come to Pyramiden to clean up the territory.

Here are signs from the past:

The village received its name from the mountain of the same name, the top of which is very similar to a pyramid, which we climbed:  

Previously, this was a dormitory for employees' families, today the building is known as the "House of seagulls":

There are whole armies of them. Birds treat the walls and windows like the brows in rocks, arranging their nests in them:  

This is a panorama of the village from the quadrocopter. In the foreground, there is the house of seagulls, to the left there is a hotel. And the alley behind them is the main street lined with former houses of the village:

And here is a view from the ground. Houses in the alley are painted, each one has glass in their places and everything inside was left as it was in the 90s. All the houses are closed; locks hang on the doors. You can enter some of them with a guide during the tour:

Communications of the former mine extend up to the clouds - rails for the descending of coal and a cable-car for the employees:

This is an old Arcticugol's billboard. 79 degrees is printed on it, although in reality, Pyramiden "fall short of" 79 degrees by about 20 minutes or 21 miles (35 kilometers). Latitude, on which Pyramiden stands is 78"40:

Vladimir Ilyich. I suspect it is the northernmost Ilyich in the world:

This is a sports complex. In the next review we'll go inside:

Suddenly a polar fox came near. This sign alerted us. Then the guide explained to us that the fox came to the village long ago: they have a lair in almost every house:

In 1910, the Swede Bertil Hogbom received permission to mine for coal 74 miles (120 km) from the Barentsburg mine in the interior of the mountains, at a latitude of less than 1 miles (0.5 km). In 1911, the construction and equipment of the mine began. This marked the beginning of the origin of Pyramiden:

There is a road behind the village where artificial lakes are situated. It is a reservoir where people get their drinking water:

The riverbed is dry now but in the spring, and during the rains, this whole place is filled with water:  

This is an old water intake structure:

From here you can clearly see the Pyramiden Mountain:

I bet you did not guess at first that this is an inverted reflection of the mountain in the water from the previous photo. This is the lake-reservoir:

These constructions are called hydro-needles (it's like a drilling rig for permafrost). They artificially freeze the ground so that the water from the lake is not able to seep through the soil during the summer defrosting of the permafrost:

They do not work now but there is still water in the reservoir:  

The village was built taking into account the experience gained during the construction of Barentsburg and 


. According to Norwegian King Harald V, who visited Pyramiden in 1995, it is "one of the jewels of the archipelago". It is difficult to disagree:

In the next review we'll take a look inside the houses and climb up the mountain.
Author: Sergeydolya
Source: sergeydolya.livejournal.com

Translated by: Gian Luka

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