Touching down at the Alykel Airport from Saint Petersburg I could not help but giggle with excitement at finally arriving at what is the most northern city in the world and one of its most unique cities.
Norilsk is no ordinary Russian city
It is quite unique, not only in its location sitting on the summit of the crown of the world, but in its history and enduring culture. Despite its very arctic climate attracts some of the brightest young professionals from all over Russia and other neighboring countries. So what is the secret? I was eager to find out, and could hardly hide my impatience to go seeing at some of its historic sites.
The 35km trip to the city is a swift one, and the first ting thing that hit me as we approached this mesmerizing place is the bright colors of its buildings from afar, a rainbow display that captivates the eyes. Massive but neatly arranged blocks that look like a masterpiece on canvas against the background of the grey and White Mountains.
The roads are wide, and neatly tarred. The lights have already come on anticipating the coming night. Our short drive ends at the Hotel North Star, a very cozy place with a good restaurant, a bar and good internet access in case you want to inform loved ones you arrived safely.
Norilsk and its exciting tourist attractions
Chief among my interest is where it all began. The first building ever erected on the arctic, a wooden cottage built in 1921 by explorers over a decade before the town was founded. I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy it still looks even after almost a hundred years. The cottage is now a museum for the geological expeditions, an amazing and enduring evidence of human triumph over adversity.
Next we drive across town to the Arctic Ice center, a bubbling public recreational facility with dozens of children running about playing hockey, the sport of choice here. Beside it is the Northernmost Mosque in the whole world, the Nurd Kamal, a striking green and wide building capped with a golden dome and minaret, a pleasant surprise that diversity thrives here so far from the rest of the world. Next up we drive to see the impressive monument that is the Norilsk Polar Drama Theatre, a reminder to me that this is like any other city in the world. It loves its arts and culture as well.