5 Norilsk: the City of Strong Winds and Polar Nights

Norilsk: the City of Strong Winds and Polar Nights

Posted on March 16, 2014 by team


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Interest in the city of Norilsk began when geologists discovered rich deposits of nickel, copper and cobalt in the area in the beginning of the 20th century. In 1936, Russia built a mining and metallurgical complex in the area using Gulag prisoners. The forced labor workers constructed the city, mines, and factories over a period of 20 years. Norilsk is now home to over 170,000 people, making it one of the largest arctic cities.

Photos are clickable.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Members of a local club of ice swimmers are not afraid to swim even at -40C and in a strong snowstorm. After such extreme swimming they warm up in small saunas heated by steam from a local power plant.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Within a radius of thirty kilometers around Norilsk about 100 thousand hectares of land is burnt out…


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

The pipe has burst in the house and everything froze, resembling ice stalactites.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Stalin’s architecture prevailing in the center of Norilsk.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Ore mining in one of the seven open pits. Despite the severe climate conditions they work non-stop.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Smelter shop is filled with gas and is really hot, workers use special masks and pipes connected with carbon filters to breathe here.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Industrial landscape in the middle of endless tundra.

Today, the city exists because of the mining and the metallurgical complex

Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Today, the city exists because of the mining and the metallurgical complex. Minerals are extracted in six underground mines, providing employment for over half of Norilsk’s population. Even commuting becomes dangerous when it means crossing 15 miles of tundra in a snowstorm. Public buses travel in convoys of 15-20 vehicles, so that if a bus breaks down, passengers can be immediately evacuated onto another bus.


Photo by Elena Chernyshova

Ruins of the House of Culture in the village of miners. Here is where former GULAG prisoners used to live for some time.


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5 Responses to “Norilsk: the City of Strong Winds and Polar Nights”

  1. espider says:

    well, really horrible living condition :( respect !

  2. bamboo says:

    looks like a pretty grim place to live

  3. kwhunter says:

    Why do you give temperature in Fahrenheit?! Are you American?

  4. john says:

    I would not stay there,to darn cold.

  5. Tony says:

    Interesting that Western media slams Russia pretty hard on their ‘primitive’ technological knowledge, yet Canada can’t: regularly send cosmonauts into deep space & return them safely without the help of another country, we can’t build numerous long term mining cities in our north, we can’t design, build, update, and successfully market all manner of things such as military aircraft, arms of all types, and on and on. The only place we might have a lead on the Russians is in the field of medical care.
    I respect the technical knowledge of the Russians.

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