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Norilsk is the northernmost city on Earth, and whilst people jump to describe it as being cold and grey, this isolated Russian city is both intriguing and exciting. Its geographical location, for example, is just one of the fascinations people have with Norilsk, located within the Arctic Circle and seemingly cut off from the outside world. No roads head out, so the only way to leave is by train, river or plane, although some of these options are made all but impossible thanks to the harsh Arctic weather for the majority of the year.
Delve into the short but interesting history of Norilsk and you'll uncover further reason to visit what has been dubbed "the most depressing city in the world". The settlement was only established in 1935 as a slave labor camp for workers on the nearby nickel mines. Today, the city is still used as base for paid miners, and the region produces over 20 percent of the world's nickel, making Norilsk's exports total more than two percent of Russia's GDP. Norilsk has also been put on the map thanks to is its unique housing constructions, which appear as rows of aging Lego bricks, packing-in the town's population of 170,000 people into a small space at the foothills of the Putoran Mountains.
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Jay is fascinated by Siberia's spectacular landscapes, historic architecture, diverse ethnic mix and extreme climatic conditions - truly one of our planet's remotest lands.
It might sound like only something you’d do for a well-paid dare, but many of the locals here voluntarily jump into icy pools of water for fun. Once they’ve had enough, the next stop is a blast in a nearby sauna to warm up again!
State Museum of Norilsk
The State Museum of Exploration and Development History of Norilsk Industrial District (to give it its full title) is the largest and most interesting museum in the city, and offers some detailed – albeit biased - exhibits of the history of Norilsk, with an inevitable focus on the mining industry that dominates the region.
Norilsk Polar Drama Theater
This is the northernmost theater on the planet, although several other points of interest in Norilsk fall into that same category. Today, the centrally-located theater stages regular performances and cultural events, and was opened some 70 years ago.
Arena Shopping Mall
The first and only indoor mall in Norilsk, Arena is home to around 40 shops, cafes and restaurants, and was only opened in 2013, meaning this is one of the newest buildings in the city.
Nord Kamal Mosque
In a city awash in varying tones of grey, this bright turquoise structure projecting high into the freezing air stands out like a sore thumb, but definitely in a good way. It is both the northernmost mosque in the world and largest of its type in Norilsk, built in a Turkish-style with a minaret and central dome.
Travel the moon-like landscapes of Russia’s Putorana plateau with this exclusive eight-day itinerary. The tour will take you through one of the least-visited, most sparsely populated areas of the globe, where sensational natural beauty prevails under a sun that never sets.
Located in the Siberian city of Norilsk, the Polyarnaya Zvezda is a basic hotel that has a range of spacious, comfortable and clean rooms. What it lacks in modernity, it certainly makes up for in friendliness, with English-speaking staff and a helpful 24-hour reception desk. There’s a restaurant downstairs serving a limited range of international and local dishes, and guests looking to explore further afield can easily reach a number of local restaurants, bars and shops on foot in just a few minutes. All rooms come with comfy double or twin beds with en-suite bathrooms and televisions as standard.