The Russian settlement Barentsburg on Spitsbergen

The ghost town at the end of the world

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When we moor down at the pier with the MS Nordstjernen, it does not seem as if there could still exist a human soul in this godforsaken place. Only the thin rising smoke above the two chimneys at the edge of the settlement testifies to life.

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:

Many thanks to Hurtigruten and Spitsbergen Travel for the invitation to the MS Nordstjernen!

  1. The photos have a bit of end-time mood. Very atmospheric and great recorded. I'm always excited about what there are places I did not even suspect. ^^
    Greetings from the Pfelders ski area

  2. All this reminds me a lot of my visit Vardøs in the north of Norway.
    Almost around the corner from Barentsburg.
    Vardø is my personal end of the world.
    Finally I have to write about that ...
    Great photos, thank you!
    rike

  3. Oh class.
    I'm in Norway next year. Thanks for the motive ... ..
    So and now? Do you get your own money for your photos ... you have talent ...

  4. Fantastic! What I would like to say in general at this point about your picture series. What do you mean: Is such a place suitable for more than a short stop in the course of a boat tour?
    A nice week,
    Maria

    • Hi Maria, thank you! Whether a longer stop pays off depends a lot on you: there were some people who came to Spitsbergen - and stayed. You have to be a great friend of the barren, breastfeeding, cold and lonely, and even if I like the silence, a few hours in Barentsburg were enough for me. The same applies to the other places like Longyearbyen, a visit is great, but I did not want to stay longer ...

  5. Hello Johannes,

    You must have been at Spitsbergen almost at the same time as we did. We were lucky when we visited Barentsburg. The Russian enclave was bathed in the evening light of the sun:

    http://www.schoenebergtouren.de/regionen/europa/norwegen/spitzbergen-expeditionskreuzfahrt-volle-fahrt-voraus-in-die-abendsonne/

    Greeting Mario

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