arts

Abandoned for 20 years, this Russian ghost town now hosts a unique performance

Published 13th November 2018
Abandoned for 20 years, this Russian ghost town now hosts a unique performance
Written by CNN Staff
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Pyramiden is a coal-mining town in the Arctic Circle, which has been abandoned for over 20 years. Located in the Svalbard archipelago, between Norway and Greenland, the settlement was acquired by the Soviet Union in the 1920s, and grew to about 1,000 inhabitants in its heyday after World War II.
But after the fall of the Soviet Union, the coal mining operation started to dwindle, and Russia no longer supported the settlement, which was abandoned in 1998.
Many facilities and landmarks still remain, including what are believed to be the northernmost monument to Lenin, the northernmost swimming pool, and the northernmost grand piano, which is inside an auditorium.
Scrap metal and buildings  in the abandoned Russian mining settlement of Pyramiden.
Scrap metal and buildings in the abandoned Russian mining settlement of Pyramiden. Credit: DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Pyramiden, named after a pyramid-shaped mountain close to town, is about 30 miles from the Svalbard capital, Longyearbyen. The only way to get there is a one and a half hour boat trip. It is the definition of remote, but since 2007, efforts have been made to turn it into a tourist attraction. Although the Soviet-era facilities are still closed and it is forbidden to enter them, accommodation can now be found in the village for small groups of daring tourists.
A view of Pyramiden.
A view of Pyramiden. Credit: DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Earlier this year, artists, dancers and over 50 select guests traveled there through sub-zero temperatures to take part in a one-off showcase of music from Northern Norway, as part of the Northern Expo 2018 music venture.
In addition to concerts and artist meetings held in nearby Longyearbyen, the delegates were taken on a boat trip to the abandoned settlement to attend a special musical performance in one of the abandoned buildings.
A moment from the performance.
A moment from the performance. Credit: Knut Aaserud
"Playing in scenarios like this, it does something to you and it's hard to put a finger on what it is. It's just like going to a different planet you know, and like time travel or something," said Kjetil Holmstad-Solberg a musician with band Violet Road.
"It's crazy and it's beautiful at the same time."
Watch the video above to find out more about the performance.