Pyramiden Cultural Palace


This is the Pyramiden Cultural Palace. In other words, a cultural complex with a library, for example a gym, a music school and an auditorium.

In short, the Cultural Palace was the place to be for social gatherings. Before the Second World War, this Russian mining settlement Pyramiden was a sleepy place, with hardly any residents at all. First mining on the island took place in 1910 by a Swedish company. However, in 1927 the Swedes sold Pyramiden to the Russian mining company Russkij Grumant.

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

Quality of life

The Soviets considered a contract in Pyramiden to be something of a promotion and privilege. So in Pyramiden quality of life mattered. The Cultural Palace featured a library, several rooms for sports and a large auditorium with rows of cushy red seats. This was the place where performances took place and movies were shown. Altogether, it was a meeting point for all residents.

About 90 percent of the population were active in some kind of cultural or sports activity. Therefore, cultural and sports interests were registered, along with the work experience, the day after arrival at Pyramiden. As a result, they could custom fit the spare time, to make it a good place to be. That way, 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.

I visited Pyramiden Cultural Palace on my Svalbard trip in 2018. More locations on the Svalbard island chain can be seen here.

Built 1972
Abandoned 1998