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Pyramiden an abandoned Russian mining town on Svalbard.

On the top of the world is where Svalbard is located, an archipelago situated between Norway and the North Pole is where Pyramiden is located a place that the world forgot for nearly a decade, a Russian mining town established by Sweden in 1910 but then sold to the Soviet Union in 1927 and then completely abounded in 1998 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Pyramiden sign
The Pyramiden sign, fun fact, the painter who painted the signed lived in Moscow and had never seen a Polar Bear, so he painted it like a dog without a tail.
Pyramiden got its name from the mountain overlooking the town.

During its peak in 1980, the population here was more than 1000, mostly Russian Arctic miners with their families who enjoyed their life here in the Arctic; these days only eight people live and work here full time, all working with tourism.

Complete travel guide to Svalbard

But they are currently restoring another building these days, to accommodate more staff due to the rapid increase of tourism in Puramiden.

old flowers in Pyramiden
Old Flowers in the cantina, they could probably need some water
from inside the cantina
from inside the cantina

Pyramiden was like any other town in the world in the ’80s with a cinema with daily movie screenings, a library with 50 000 books, an indoor heated swimming pool, a 24/7 cantina, a petrol station, a greenhouse for fresh vegetables where they grew tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, ornamentals and more.

The people living here raised their own pigs, chickens and cattle. And all the heating and electricity came from the coal that workers mined. This place was an almost completely self-sufficient society.

There´s no WIFI or phone connection here, you completely of the grid.

inside the Cinema and concert hall in Pyramiden.
Inside the Cinema and concert hall.
the old cinema in Pyramiden
In 2019 did they manage to repair the old USSR projectors, and during the summer season, are they showing movies almost daily in the Cinema.

A school and a kindergarten, a sports hall with all other facilities that you would expect in a Soviet city in the 80s.

A old school classroom in Pyramiden
Inside an old classroom
old runed down room in Pyramiden
In a room in the school building, notice the balalaika
An old broken globus in one of the classroom

And of course, there´s a Lenin statue here, the most northern one in the world.

Lening pyramiden
Lenin Statue in front of the Sports Hall. The most northern located Lenin statue in the world.
Unopen Lenin
A Wrapped up Lenin

Pyramiden was considered to be a very good place to live and work during the USSR, and even the grass here was imported from Siberia to make Pyramiden a more liveable place. The people who worked here for two years earned enough money to buy a good flat back in Moscow.

Pyramiden was meant to be an ideal Soviet society. 

Pyramiden was one of the very few towns in the USSR that any foreigner could come without a visa.
Pyramiden served as an exhibition of the best of the Soviet Union.

But when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the population in Pyramiden rapidly decreased until Pyramiden was completely abandoned in 1998, but by then, only a few miners remained in Pyramiden. It soon was forgotten and left for its own destiny.

Looking down Pyramiden
Looking down the main street, the red building on the right side is currently getting rebuilt to house more staff with the increase of tourism.
Panoramic view over Pyramiden
Panoramic view over Pyramiden.
The Pyramiden sign
The city sign at the entrance to the town.

Due to the cold climate have most of the buildings remain just as they were left, but after tourists started to re-discover the place since 2013, and things were taken away, are now all the buildings closed off, and you will need a guide to enter.

Today visiting Pyramiden is like travelling back in time to the USSR, to a forgotten time here at 78° North, where it looks like everyone left in a hurry (even, the desertion occurred over a period of months.
But the last school shut down in 1993) like there would be no tomorrow with flowers still in windows, family photos on the walls, plates on the table etc.

left behind photo
A family photo that is left behind
swimming hall
The swimming hall in the town.
The sports hall in Pyramiden
The Sportshall

But one thing that hasn´t changed here, Pyramiden is not connected by any roads from other parts of Svalbard/Spitsbergen. The only way to get here is by boat in summer and by Snowmobile in winter.
Which is an adventure on its own, especially during winter when you will have to drive across a frozen glacier and the frozen Billefjord to be able to reach Pyramiden during the cold winter months.

the only way to reach the place in winter is to cross frozen Billefjord

How to Get To Pyramiden on Svalbard.

During the summer months from mid-May until the beginning of October, when the waters are ice-free can, Pyramiden can be reached by boat from about Longyearbyen, the largest town on Svalbard/Spitsbergen.

But throughout the cold winter months from November to late April, including three months of which are engulfed by 24-hour darkness, can Pyramiden be reached only by Snowmobile on a 140km drive from Longyearbyen.

Reindeers outside Pyramiden
Arctic fox
An arctic fox having a look.

During the three polar night months, will the whole place close down and the only visitors hare are only the occasional stray polar bear who lives in the area together with arctic foxes and reindeer.

snowmobile trip to Longyear byen
During the cold winter, months are Snowmobile the only way of transportation.

Hotel in Pyramiden.

The only accommodation option here is the newly renovated Pyramiden hotel. In contrast, the hotel looks USSR style from the outside, so only some parts inside the hotel kept in the traditional USSR way.
Pyramiden also hoses a Norwegian post office, the world´s second-most northern only after New Ålesund, and a very well-stocked bar, as well as a well-stocked souvenir shop in the post office.

Pyramiden hotel
Snowmobiles parked up outside the only hotel.
Rooms Pyramiden hotel
The newly renovated rooms at the Hotel.
The Norwegian office in Pyramiden
The Norwegian post office in here.
bar Pyramiden
The well-stocked bar in the hotel.

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Travel Guide To Pyramiden one of the world´s most northern towns. A ussr minning town in Svalbard/Spitsbergen.
Travel Guide To Pyramiden is one of the world´s most northern towns. A USSR mining town in Svalbard/Spitsbergen.


Ruby B

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

About 20 years ago, I ran across the story of Pyramiden on the travel blog of a woman. there was a photograph of a headstone made from things people found around the abandoned town.

The story the woman blogger told was that msot of the residents had been ordered by the soviets to leave with only a very short notice. They were not allowed to take their cats (I don't think dogs were allowed; only cats because they help control rats).

The photographs in the blog reinforced the idea of a sudden departure and being unable to take much. The abandoned rooms looked like they were waiting for someone to return from work or school.

When a few people next visited the site they found, if I remember correctly, about 100 dead cats. So the visitors made an impromptu memorial for the cats.

It was one of the saddest things I've ever read about. The many cats waiting for their humans to return. The effect on the humans, especially the children, of being forced to abandon their pets, knowing the pets would starve.