No, she is not a real ghost town, like Kolmannskuppe in Namibia . Here in Barentsburg, in the west of Spitsbergen, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, barely 500 inhabitants still live: this is the second largest city of the archipelago. But when we moor down at the pier with the MS Nordstjernen, it does not seem as if a human soul could exist at this godforsaken place. Only the thin rising smoke above the two chimneys at the edge of the settlement testifies to life.
Russian hunters and fishermen have inhabited the archipelago of Svalbard , whose largest island is Spitsbergen, for centuries; Their graves and other finds testify to this. Barentsburg was founded in 1932 to reduce the coal deposits - an international treaty gave them from 1920 to the right. And certainly, this location was so close to the North Pole and North America as the Soviet Union wrestled with the United States for world domination, I suppose. Although Svalbard is part of Norway , Barentsburg is inhabited almost exclusively by Russians and Ukrainians.
Before we continue to trudge up to the inhabited areas lure me crumbling buildings. "Come, Johannes, come here!"
I like that!
Further up the mountain, some of the old buildings are given a new colorful façade, others are demolished. The second northernmost Lenin in the world looks grim as usual (the northernmost is in the pyramid coalmine , this settlement a little further north in the fjord is a true ghost town and was abandoned in 2000).
And then comes the surprise: There's life on Mars! In the event center, a folklore group introduces us enthusiastically to their repertoire. That's really fun!
See for yourself: