Pyramiden Cultural Palace

Built: 1972

Abandoned: 1998

Visited: 2018

Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

Before the Second World War, this Russian mining settlement Pyramiden was a sleepy place, with hardly any residents at all. First mining took place in 1910 by a Swedish company. In 1927 the Swedes sold Pyramiden to the Russian mining company Russkij Grumant.

After the Second World War, the Soviets allocated more money to the town. They constructed dozens of new buildings, including this recreation center called the Cultural Palace All were constructed in the typical Soviet block-style fashion, and with rounded edges to lessen the impact of the bitter winter wind.

Quality of life

Soviets considered a contract in Pyramiden to be something of a promotion and privilege. In Pyramiden quality of life mattered. The Cultural Palace featured a library, a weight-lifting room, a basketball court and a large auditorium with rows of cushy red seats, where performances took place and movies were shown.

At one point 90 percent of the population were active in some kind of cultural or sports activity. The day after arrival at Pyramiden the work experience and the cultural and sports interests were registered. This way they could custom fit the spare time to make it a good place to be and everyone would contribute to the community.

Pyramiden was abandoned in 1998. The residents never returned, and today the town still stands much as it was when the last men departed. At the top of the main street, a statue of Lenin watches over the abandoned town and the beautiful Nordenkiöld glacier. The statue is surrounded by grass imported from Ukraine.

Photos Cultural Palace

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