In the Arctic Circle sits a Soviet ghost town, frozen in time and overtaken by wildlife. Reindeer, seals, and foxes frolicked free of human threat from 1998 until 2007, when attempts to revive the land began.
The Russian Coal Mining Community Was Established In 1927Arterra/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The town of Pyramiden was founded by Sweden in 1910 and then sold to the state-owned Russian mining company, Arktikugol Trust in 1927. The first Russian settlers didn’t arrive until 1936 and it was settled as a coal-mining community.
Pyramided Was Once Home To Over 1,200 PeopleDaily Mail
Pyramiden once had over 1,200 residents and being 800 miles from the North Pole, situated on a fjord on Norway's Spitzberg Island in Svalbard, the town boasts the world’s northernmost indoor heated swimming pool and a Red Oktober Grand Piano as selling points to draw tourists in.
All Needs Were Met To Ensure A Comfortable ExistenceMy Hectic Home.com
The town was complete with a gym, schools, playgrounds, a theater, a cultural center, two cemeteries—one for humans and one for cats—and of course housing to accommodate its inhabitants—but it simply wasn’t enough to keep them there.
The Settlers Began Leaving In 1998Smithsonianmag.com
The settlers began to abandon the icy existence over the course of a few weeks in 1998, with the last coal extraction occurring on March 31, 1998 and the last resident leaving on October 10 of the same year.
People Literally Dropped What They Were Doing And LeftDaily Mail
The fall of Pyramiden is shrouded in mystery; a simple stroll through the town gives the distinct impression that people left in a hurry. It’s as if they literally stopped whatever they were doing and walked away, never to return.
Things That Could Have Been Sold Were Simply AbandonedDaily Mail
Clean dishes remain stacked on counters and shelves, and folded sheets were neatly placed on beds. Musical instruments, typewriters, film reels, and expensive mining equipment all left behind. This was a community centered around mining, leaving their homes meant losing their jobs as well, instead of selling these items for cash they clearly needed, they just left them.
What Was Left Behind Remains The Eeriest Aspect Of this Ghost TownDaily Mail
Even personal items like photographs were left behind to serve as still reminders of the life that once existed here.
The Only Signs Of Life Are Wild AnimalsDaily Mail
Nature hit the settlement with snow and ice and wildlife. It didn’t take long for the new resident foxes, seal, and reindeer to take over the town, even the occasional polar bear has been seen wandering the streets.
The Freezing Weather Conditions Have Slowed Decay To A CrawlDaily Mail
The town itself was literally frozen in time, the climate leaves little room for decay to work its way through the buildings and many people have predicted these structures will remain preserved even 500 years from now.
Vandals And Thieves Are the Biggest Threat To The Otherwise Preserved ArchitectureDaily Mail
This frozen ghost town’s biggest threat is vandalism and theft despite its locked buildings. Arktikugol Trust decided in 2007 that they would try to turn Pyramiden into a tourist attraction and began cleaning off graffiti, upgrading the infrastructure, and renovating the hotel.
The Bare Necessities To Accommodate Tourists Have Been MadeDaily Mail
A brand new power station had been erected and tour guides and hotel staff were employed to look after the hotel’s water station and maintain the grounds, bringing new life to the old settlement.
The Town Is Opened For Daily Tours And Overnight StaysDaily Mail
Pyramiden is accessible by boat and snowmobile from Longyearbyen and guided tours are available. Around 30 workers live there year-round and the grand opening of the Tulip Hotel and its small museum happened in 2013.
The Town Will Remain (Mostly) AbandonedWikimedia Commons
These developments don’t mean a full rejuvenation is in the cards, the creepy abandoned atmosphere it what draws visitors in the first place. Guests can stay the night and explore the eerie remains of the rest of Pyramiden at their own leisure during the day, but there are no plans to renovate or reopen the rest of the town.