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Explore a Soviet Mining Town Frozen in Time

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(Anna Filipova/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Anna Filipova/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On a stretch of land called Svalbard connecting Norway and the North Pole lies Pyramiden, a former Soviet mining town. Left behind over the course of a short few months as the town struggled from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and a more recent plane crash, the town appears the same as it did the day its last resident departed in 1998. As a result, Pyramiden acts like a time machine for visitors to a place still gazed upon by a statue of Lenin. The climate helps the preservation: With summers of weather in the low 40s and frigid winters without sunlight, the Soviet architecture is expected to stay relatively preserved for the next 500 years.

Smithsonian Magazine visited Pyramiden recently to see how it’s fared since it was abandoned. Rachel Nuwer describes it here:

“Over the years, Barentsburg’s residents have claimed some of Pyramiden’s leftover machinery for their own, treating the ghost town as a sort of storehouse for random supplies. But countless relics remain, from the contents of the town’s small museum to the costumes of past dance performances to more than 1,000 movie reels. ‘It was impossible to take all the stuff from the settlement, simply because it took some 50 years to bring it,’ Prudnikov says.”

Watch the video below to see Pyramiden for yourself. If you want to learn more about the community’s history and how life there once was, click here.