Barentsburg - Russian Town In Norway (Longyearbyen) | CruiseBe
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Barentsburg - Russian Town In Norway

Sergey Dolya • 8 minutes read • April 6th, 2016

When I hear the phrase "the polar village", I imagine some dilapidated ghost village, old barracks with empty windows and an omnipresent Lenin, holding out his hand toward a bright future. Barentsburg - the Russian town in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard - completely broke the old pattern (although Lenin was there). Houses, infrastructure, streets and town facilities - everything was at a very high level.
Under the cut you'll see pictures and read comments from my walk through Barentsburg:

In order to understand the geography of the archipelago, take a look at the map below. Svalbard is settled in the area of the large fjord, Nordre Isfjorden. Longyearbyen and Barentsburg are located on its right bank. Above on the map is 


- an abandoned Russian town. Sveagruva and 


 are mines:

The first thing that catches your eye is the fact that Barentsburg is very high above sea level:

The town stretches along the coast. Closer to the water there are coal warehouses, where treasures of the soil are taken by incoming Barentsburg barges:

Here is a view of the town from the mountain:

This is the center of the town. Almost all the buildings here were renovated and restored. Barentsburg's Reconstruction began in 2008 and. in comparison with what it looked like year-ago, the changes are significant:

Let's move a little lower. This is the central street of the village. Cars still drive through there but soon it will catered solely to pedestrians and the road will be higher. Although, even now, cars aren't seen more than once an hour. Mainly trucks move along it:

The territory of Barentsburg is called the "Zone Zero" - in other words, it is almost impossible to meet a bear in the town. If a bear suddenly appears on the horizon, it is immediately taken under control. However, if you are going to go out of town, it is better to take a gun with you. By the way, this was our guide:

We took a walk around the town. This building belongs to the Arcticugol company. In general the entire town, including all the buildings, mines, etc., belong to this company. Entrance to the mine is located directly inside the building's headquarters:

Although there are not many children, there is a kindergarten and a school. The walls are painted with motifs of Russian folk tales:

The red building on the right is a hospital. Like the Norwegians, people can only get first aid treatment there. In the case of a more complex sickness, the patient is airlifted to the mainland. The hospital facilities very good. 
On the left there is a hotel. We took a look inside: 

The hotel looked nice. The rooms, service, food - everything was at a high level. Frankly, in some cities, where the number of residents reach above hundreds of thousands, you will not find this. Staying there during our trip was very comfortable and my assumptions about a week in Spartan conditions did not materialize:

The bathroom:

This is a cultural center, combined with a sports complex. A place where a museum, swimming pool and gym are all under one roof. As there is a little entertainment in the town, people flock to this center:

This is a restaurant and the northernmost brewery in the world:

Room of the "Krasniy Medved" ("Red Bear") Restaurant. Locals don't come here often but tourists love this place:

Previously there was a restaurant here but now the building is closed. Soon it'll become some infrastructure facility and I hope they'll keep the coloring of the facade and the banner with the verse of Rozhdestvenskiy:

A monument to "gray" Lenin. He even managed to get here:

Recently, an inscription from the Soviet era was found;  "Our goal is communism". It was here before but another slogan was used after 1991. Everyone forgot about the original message, when the first letters fell off. They began to "dig up" the original slogan and decided to leave it in its original form. Now it is an art object.
In the background there are residential houses that have been completely renovated. It used to be a hostel, now they are one-bedroom apartments for the employees of Arktikugol. Everyone is issued housing here. After the first half-year contract, you can bring your whole family:

This is a chapel. The priest comes twice a year from the Norwegian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Svalbard doesn't have its own priest:

The church is open all the time:

Underdone houses have been actively repaired. First they enhance the facade, then work on the internal repairs:

This is a playground. Also under the process of restoration:

And these are new communication lines:

This is the entrance of the residential building:

Barentsburg is visited by about 20,000 tourists per year. Mainly foreigners from cruise liners or other excursions. There is a gift shop for them:

This is the central park in the village. Still without landscape gardening but I'm sure it will come in time: 

And this is a central square. In common towns, paid attractions stand in such areas. Here you can find free cars for kids:

The boat is set as a children's climbing frame:

The waterfront has an observation deck and two benches. Locals call it "TV": they come here, sit on the bench and watch the non-stop "Discovery channel":

From the deck you can see old houses. According to Norwegian law, it is forbidden to restore or demolish them. Anything over 50 years old is considered historically valuable by scientists: 

This is how the waterfront, deck and houses look from the sea:

This building has sunk into the ground, up to the windows. The doors are periodically nailed down but local youths still open them for their gatherings:

The town has a football field (full-sized), although according to old residents, the last time anyone played here was 10 years ago:

The right side of the town has buildings that are part of the research universities. It is interesting that this place is called "the dead end of science":



 already has a garbage recycling plant, here you can see the garbage sorting facilities under construction:

This is the wall of fame from the Soviet Era:

An interesting feature of the whole Svalbard is that everyone must take off their shoes before entering a room. Even in the hotel you will be asked to take off your shoes before the reception desk. Slippers are offered everywhere:

This is the only grocery store in Barentsburg:

According to local residents, food costs no more than 12-15 thousand rubles a month (about $175-219). Since this is the only store, you can't spend more. In terms of the cost of living, the salary of an IT specialist is 60 thousand rubles (about $880):

All the prices are in rubles:

KrAZes; where coal is regularly moved through the town:

Tourism in Barentsburg develops each year, a lot of ships and yachts come to the town:

By the way, I know how to get to Barentsburg!
Author: Sergeydolya

Translated by: Gian Luka

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