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Pyramiden (Billefjord, Spitsbergen)

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Pyra­mi­den is one of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments of Spits­ber­gen. Ori­gi­nal­ly, the coal field was occup­pied by Ber­til Hög­bom from Swe­den, but mining acti­vi­ties did not reach an indus­tri­al level and the pro­per­ty was sold to Rus­sia in 1926. In 1931, the sta­te-owned com­pa­ny Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol beca­me the owner of Pyra­mi­den, which got its name after the neigh­bou­ring moun­tain.

Map Pyra­mi­den

Pan­ora­ma Sub-Page of Pyra­mi­den

In the 1970s and 1980s, the sett­le­ment got lar­ger and had up to 1000 inha­bi­tants. In 1998, Pyra­mi­den was aban­do­ned. The rea­sons lay in the bad gene­ral eco­no­mi­c­al situa­ti­on of Rus­sia in the 1990s, lack of poli­ti­cal sup­port, shrin­king coal reser­ves and final­ly the cata­stro­phic air­pla­ne crash at Ope­raf­jel­let in 1996, whe­re 141 Rus­si­ans on the way to Bar­ents­burg lost their lives.

After years of decay fol­lowing 1998, recent­ly Pyra­mi­den is get­ting more busy and acti­ve again. In 2013, Hotel Tuli­pan was re-ope­ned and in 2018, the Cul­tu­re House got some reno­va­ti­on. But the­re are still no more than 10-20 peop­le living and working in Pyra­mi­den, depen­ding on the sea­son.

Pyra­mi­den is a fasci­na­ting place that has got a lot of atten­ti­on in world­wi­de media and tra­vel blogs in recent years, and tou­rists have dis­co­ve­r­ed it as an attrac­ti­ve desti­na­ti­on. Most come on a day trip by boat from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, stay­ing for about two hours, just enough to get an impres­si­on. Some stay in the hotel, thus having more time to explo­re.

Lenin, Pyramiden

Lenin in Pyra­mi­den, viewing towards the main ave­nue (Pro­spekt) and Nor­dens­kiöld­breen.

In my per­so­nal opi­ni­on, Pyra­mi­den is one of Spitsbergen’s most inte­res­ting pla­ces. I have been the­re regu­lar­ly sin­ce 1997, inclu­ding the latest peri­od as an acti­ve sett­le­ment, and I have always been fasci­na­ted. Next to the bizar­re place its­elf, the sur­roun­dings are of gre­at sce­nic beau­ty.

Polar bears are regu­lar­ly seen in Bill­efjord and they do come into the ghost sett­le­ment every now and then, so Pyra­mi­den is not polar bear safe! If you want to go and explo­re on your own, you need to take the usu­al pre­cau­ti­ons as any­whe­re else in the wil­der­ness, which means you need a sui­ta­ble wea­pon and sca­ring devices and you have to be able to hand­le them pro­per­ly also when under gre­at stress.

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last modification: 2019-01-02 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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