A Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle

Pyramiden is a ghost town in the Svalbard Archipelago. The nearest small town is Longyearbyen, approximately 31 miles to the south.

Pyramiden was a place founded by Sweden in 1910 to house coal miners. In 1927, Sweden sold the land to the Soviet Union. After World War II, the Soviet Union started developing the town. It had everything that a regular town needed to be functional: housing, a sports complex, a hospital, a recreation center called the Cultural Palace, and a large cafeteria. By 1980, the population had reached more than 1000.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. The new Russian government stopped sending money to the town, and life for its inhabitants became harder and harder. On March 31, 1998, all the residents of Pyramiden suddenly decided to leave the city. They left in a hurry 
and left behind everything: buildings, equipment, furniture, photos, books in the library, exhibits in the museum, toys in the kindergarten, medical files in the clinic, sports equipment, and musical instruments, among other items. The last thing they did was they locked all the buildings and raised a monument: a representative miner’s trolley full of coal. On the trolley is written in the Russian language: “On March 31, 1998, the last ton of coal was extracted from the mine of Pyramida”.

Since then the city has been abandoned. There is only one human remaining in the town: a guard, carrying a rifle and walking back and forth all day, like a guardian for the past glory of the Soviet Union.

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