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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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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