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Hello, 87.74.197.32! Welcome to Wikivoyage.

To help get you started contributing, we've created a tips for new contributors page, full of helpful links about policies and guidelines and style, as well as some important information on copyleft and basic stuff like how to edit a page. If you need help, check out Help, or post a message in the travellers' pub. New users are also welcome to post any questions or concerns to the arrivals lounge. If you want some practice editing, please do so on our graffiti wall. If you are familiar with Wikipedia, take a look over some of the differences here. If you want to contribute with information about the place where you live, see Wikivoyage:Welcome, locals. Additionally, I'd recommend you getting an account. I've got to admit but I edited for several years without logging in onto en.wikipedia which I now regret. Cheers, SHB2000 (talk) 10:20, 23 March 2021 (UTC)

Are you ArticCynda?

Hello. Please would you confirm whether you previously edited Wikivoyage as user:ArticCynda? As you know if you are him, the community is currently discussing whether or not to lift your userban, which is far from a fait accompli, as a lot of people remain undecided. It would greatly help your case to (a) immediately stop editing Wikivoyage while the discussion is ongoing (b) be completely upfront and honest now and at all times moving forward as to your identity. Since you've been online in the last few minutes, I will take a cessation of activity without a reply here as tacit acknowledgment of your identity. Awaiting your reply, ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 17:19, 25 March 2021 (UTC)

And to be completely up front myself, I will as you probably gather be blocking this IP address if you reply with the affirmative, or if you don't reply at all, but I will keep your talk page open as I think (or at least hope) we will have stuff to discuss soon.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 17:25, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
Hi TT, this is indeed the AC you thought it was, as you said yourself: "who else signs posts as AC?". Thank you for your thoughts, and also for correcting the regions to departments in several articles — I seem to confuse these every time again. I feel like I did the right thing to help the teacher and her students get started, so saying I feel guilty for the edits I made today would be lying.
I have been following the discussion at Wikivoyage_talk:User_ban_nominations#User:90.244.151.58 closely, and to show my goodwill, I also suspended any further edits to Dagestan and its articles, as I wrote on my talk page about a week ago. Alas, that message was quickly deleted from my talk page, but I have respected the promise unilaterally anyway. There have been no further edits to Dagestan, or at least not mine.
So it's hard for me to believe you when you say "we'll have things to discuss soon" as long as my talk page remains blocked and any messages I post there are being deleted — a dialogue needs to come from both sides, and so far any concessions or goodwill have only come from my side... but maybe that's just my interpretation, who knows.
I'm not actively monitoring all of the IP talk pages, not because I'm not committed or don't care, but simply because there is no technologically practical way to do so. So my AC talk page is probably the best place to have discussions.
All the best, AC
Thanks for replying.
I don't expect you to feel guilty, but obviously can't agree with you that you did the right thing. Fact is, you're banned from editing Wikivoyage.
To a cynical eye like mine, not editing Dagestan doesn't demonstrate goodwill; it demonstrates that you know further edits to that part of the world will be recognised as yours and reverted, and so are pointless. A demonstration of goodwill that I would take to be real would be for you to have the patience to stop editing for the duration of your ban, or at the very least while the discussion about you is ongoing. You still have it in your power to commit to this going forward.
For my part, I will oppose any lifting of your ban without an agreement (and actual undertaking) from you to not edit any part of Wikivoyage outside of this talk page for the duration of the ban.
Your request for access to a user talk page seems reasonable to me. You've got this page; put it in your bookmarks. It's on my watchlist, and I will ensure that your current IP continues to have access and that comments of yours made to this page (by this or another IP address signing as you) won't be removed.
(The revocation of access to your old user talk page was decided by consensus, which I can't unilaterally overturn. Any proposal I could make to the community to grant you access there would distract from the main topic of discussion - whether or not to lift your ban - and unnecessarily drag out the process of reaching a decision. So, as disappointing as that might be to you, I'm going to have to decline to pursue that.)
Have a good night, and please just think about what I'm asking of you. Regards, ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 21:44, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
Hi TT, I understand your point of view and as I've said before, I still prefer to resolve the conflict. However I must be honest, too, and after reading the toxic thread at Wikivoyage_talk:User_ban_nominations#User:90.244.151.58 that is filled with insults ("fuck the guy") and threats ("delete his work") it should be no surprise that my motivation to engage in a constructive dialogue is evaporating rather quickly. I can't think of many treaty negotiations in history that were successful while one party kept insulting and threatening the other... I'm fairly thick-skinned, but generally respond poorly to threats, especially those that are a blatant violation of the wv:ttcf policy.
I have the impression a few people are no longer here to build a travel guide and would rather escalate the conflict than resolve it. Reading how my technical assistance to the French teacher and her students yesterday is now being framed by some as a "provocation" must be the most laughable attempt at discrediting my work so far. I didn't see anyone else offering assistance to the teacher and her students yesterday.
Your request to stop editing for the duration of the discussion is reasonable, so effective immediately I'm suspending any further contributions for as long as the discussion takes. I've also read your proposal and it deserves a proper answer, will address it when I have more time tonight to share thoughts on the matter. — AC
TT, I've carefully read your proposal and I think it's a fair pathway forward, so I'd be willing to discuss the terms of such an agreement if that resolves the ongoing conflict. My concern is regarding the arbitration of the agreement, and more specifically how the terms of the agreement can be enforced in practice. Clearly, a third party that is not involved and unbiased is needed for arbitration. After all, despite honouring an agreement like the one you proposed myself, I can't prevent others (vandals/trolls or anyone else with interests in undermining the agreement) from making edits and signing with 'AC' or impersonating me in another way. In fact, since IP addresses are anonymous by definition, anyone could claim any edits from any IP editor at any time are my work whereas in reality they are not — and I would have no means to prove otherwise. Looking at how the discussion at Wikivoyage_talk:User_ban_nominations#User:90.244.151.58 is evolving, some people would likely not miss the opportunity of blaming me for random vandalism or other unconstructive behaviour I'm obviously not responsible for (as has happened in the past already). So I'd be curious which measures/arbitration mechanisms you propose putting in place to prevent such false flag operations from disrupting the agreement. I'm assuming your proposal is in good faith, but without proper measures, as you will probably agree, it feels like a trap. Looking forward to your response. — AC
The thing is, you're banned. That's it. SHB2000 (talk) 06:05, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
You're right, SHB2000, and as kindly explained by André in the discussion thread, the result is that there are now thousands of edits scattered between hundreds of anonymous IP addresses. A consensus appears to be developing that there is nothing objectionable about these edits, as you can see for yourself in my recent work to Dagestan, Murmansk, etc. Several people however insist I have malicious intentions and have voiced concerns that the anonymous nature of these edits makes it very difficult to police them. So to address those concerns, the proposal being discussed is to concentrate all edits under one account to make it easier for them to be reviewed. All the best, AC.

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @ThunderingTyphoons!: It's been a month since my last edit to Dagestan and its articles, and the discussion on the user ban nominations talk page has been going on just as long. I recognize and appreciate your efforts to find a solution for the stalemate situation that's been wasting valuable time for nearly 3 years now. The debate has been valuable in the sense that it confirmed what has been clear to most editors — including myself — for a long time, and it probably also confronted a small group of editors with a rather inconvenient truth.
I gave you my word that I would refrain from further editing as long as the discussion is ongoing, and self-evidently I also respected that gentlemen's agreement. However every discussion must end at some point. All facts have been on the table for a while so unless there is anything else you'd like to add to the debate, I propose we draw the obvious conclusions, and continue doing what we're here for: writing a travel guide. What say you? — AC

Erm, no, since no one agrees to unblock you immediately. And there's User:Ground Zero and myself who think you should be indefinitely banned. SHB2000 (talk) 23:32, 17 April 2021 (UTC)
The indefinite ban option has been attempted before, and we're having this conversation because it didn't work. How about trying a more constructive approach this time? — AC
The discussion is to unblock you after a current block of 9 months or so, not immediately. I don't think any course of action has been decided on yet. We don't owe you any special consideration, so be patient. Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:26, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Agree with Ikan here. SHB2000 (talk) 05:32, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Yep, and I would add that the indefinite ban didn't "not work" in some abstract sense beyond everyone's control; you chose to disregard it because for some reason you felt the community consensus didn't apply to you. The only way I can see my proposal (or some variation of it) as a solution is with your co-operation and agreement, because that helps to demonstrate that you no longer see yourself as apart from or somehow "above" the decisions this community takes.
To that end, I appreciate your observance of the agreement during this past month, and genuinely regret how long it's taking to reach a decision (not least because it's a huge time drain for everyone), but agree with the others that you have to be patient and must accept that there's no chance of your block being lifted for several months yet, and still a strong possibility that the indefinite block will remain in place. I understand that is inconvenient to you, but that's the bed you've made for yourself over the past three years.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 10:40, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Just one question. An IP address made some edits a few hours before and after you posted to your talk page yesterday. Was this you or not? 82.3.185.12 19:14, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
A very good question indeed, and one that may be asked countless times in the next years and perhaps even decades to come, who knows. These look like they could be AC edits, but are they really? They haven't signed as AC yet, but that doesn't mean anything, it could still be AC. There is no way to know until they sign their edits, but even so, anyone could sign as AC even if they're not AC. You're also an anonymous user, you could be AC yourself. Are you? Your edits sure share similarities with those made by AC, because there is nothing wrong with them. Suspicious. I think we should delete everything, just in case.
One could almost get the impression that a witch hunt for anonymous IP editors is not the most rewarding or fruitful way to spend time on Wikivoyage, but it's a sacrifice some are apparently willing to make just to stop productive editors from adding quality content to our travel guide. — AC
User:82.3.185.12 has been editing under that IP for 5 months now. Plus, he's from Eastleigh and not from Exeter. But as TT said, it's too bad that you made the bed as what you did in the last 3 years. SHB2000 (talk | contribs) 23:26, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Plus, I've had to do a third round as we still can't decide. SHB2000 (talk | contribs) 23:28, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
And additionally, the focus is now on w:WP:GRP now. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 23:52, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
I couldn't help noticing that you 'forgot' to include the 'immediate unblock' option in the third round, the choice of members User:Nurg, User:TheDog2, and others in the first round. Perhaps the lack of participation could be explained by a certain bias in its setup? Repeating a poll over and over again until you get the results you want might work eventually, but it's neither democratic nor respectful towards members who have previously donated some of their time voicing their opinion on that matter. — AC
Wikivoyage works by consensus, not voting. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 05:35, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Any accounts or IP addresses that claim themselves as "AC" or are suspected of being you will obviously be blocked. But if they're not you, then by all means post a message here and we can ask a Checkuser to verify.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 08:17, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

@ThunderingTyphoons!: Although if a different device using a different browser in a different location evaded, then the Checkusers might not be able to tell. 82.3.185.12 16:06, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
Quite frankly, that we won't be able to tell with 100% certainty whether a given IP address is you or not is a problem of your own making. But if the checkuser system is good enough for the wider foundation, then it's good enough for us.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 16:11, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. 82.3.185.12 16:12, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, there are three options:

  • Indefinite block - To keep AC blocked forever. AC has evaded their block multiple times, although the edits have always been positive, which makes me think this is just their way of saying “please don’t choose this option”
  • Six-month block - Like the Standard offer on Wikipedia, for which the terms are simple:
1) Waiting six months without evading the block
2) Promising they won’t carry on with the behaviour that got you blocked
3) Not giving reasons for people to object to getting unblocked
  • Immediate unblock - To unblock AC after letting them apologise and making them promise they won’t do it again. This would probably require someone to check AC’s contributions to make sure they were all positive.

Unblocking AC would require a certain amount of trust; they would have to stop evading and, if they did evade, admit when they were doing so as TT said above. 82.3.185.12 16:52, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

WTF?? Who wants to applaud the success of a serial block evader keen for spotlights? What a joke. Nuke him and his work. Ibaman (talk) 17:38, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
"serial block evader" is a fantastic quote to emphasize one's dedication and courage to keep contributing quality content even under difficult circumstances. I can hardly think of a better one-liner to put on a custom T-shirt. — AC
Do you still think you didn't deserve to be blocked? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 23:10, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
@ThunderingTyphoons!: It could be possible that this user is using a VPN, as the location of his IP address has changed several times (London, Bristol, Exeter). But since VPNs (mainly) only change IPv4 addresses, it could mean that if the IPv6 address mentioned above is this user, that could mean that London is his real location. 82.3.185.12 06:52, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
Actually, different IP locaters are showing different locations, so it is probably just the IP locaters not being able to pinpoint exactly where he is. 82.3.185.12 06:54, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
@82.3.185.12: - A few weeks ago, my IP was based in Tamworth, a place over 500km away from me, but I'm still using the same computer and in the same location. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 08:21, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
And after all, User:Ground Zero and I can have our "we told you so" moments. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 08:32, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

@ThunderingTyphoons!: I'm surprised it suddenly matters what I think. Anyway, I do agree that I deserved to be blocked because I indeed overstepped boundaries that I should not have crossed (regrettable actions for which I have since apologised). I was blocked for 3 days, according to the block policy, which was the correct course of action at the time. However at that point some individuals I won't name here decided that the policies of this project no longer mattered, and rather than following up with a 2 week and then 3 month block as outlined in the policy, I was immediately banned indefinitely. In further violation of the policy, talk page access was revoked indefinitely without discussion or consensus, and for reasons that have never been explained. Nonetheless, I recognise there was a reason to be blocked and therefore I imposed a 2 week block on myself, in line with the applicable policy. After expiration of those 2 weeks, and again in accordance to the block policy, I reflected on my mistakes, outlined commitments to make sure those mistakes couldn't happen again, and resumed editing. None of this is a secret, it can all be found on my talk page. So how can there be confusion about it? — AC
Additionally, the block policy clearly states that an indefinite ban should only be considered "(...) when a contributor has made it clear that they're not interested in the site's goals (...)". As my edits clearly show my contributions are in line with this project's goals, an indefinite ban was unjustified and (at least in my opinion) in violation of the policy, although it does leave some room for interpretation. Curiously, the policy page also warns that unjustified bans "(...) might make an enemy out of a potential friend", but being the philanthropist I am, that fortunately didn't happen, and I've consistently contributed constructively. — AC
Where are the diffs for "I imposed a 2 week block on myself" and "After expiration of those 2 weeks, and...I reflected on my mistakes, outlined commitments to make sure those mistakes couldn't happen again, and resumed editing."? I'm afraid you're talking me out of trying to help you return, because even without naming individuals, you're still blaming others rather than taking responsibility for your actions over the past three years or so.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:20, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
Exactly the reason why've been going for indef this entire time. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 11:21, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
I am taking full responsibility for my actions over the past three years, User:ThunderingTyphoons!, including the content added to any of the hundreds of articles edited in that time span, as well as the dozens of new articles created. These contributions were my sole responsibility, so if there are any concerns about their quality or accuracy then I'm the only one to blame. Fortunately, I have yet to receive a single complaint regarding the quality of my contributions, and although editors like User:LPfi understandably advised double checking just to be sure, to the best of my knowledge no one has been able to point out objectionable content. I have not seen any article space talk page discussions that disputed or challenged the quality of content I added in over 2 years. And even if there were such discussions and disputes, I would still take responsibility for them. — AC
So there are no diffs? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:47, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
Can't post links to the relevant diffs because someone set up an edit filter that disallows a keyword in the URLs. But I'd recommend you to read the section "Conclusions" which outlines the self-imposed time-out and future commitments. — AC
Yes, there's an edit filter that prevents your username from being typed. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 12:29, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
Whoever set up that filter clearly did not want any talk page diffs to be posted, that much is clear. I've been looking for any discussions that led to that filter being created but I can't find any. Have you had any luck finding a community consensus for it, User:SHB2000? — AC
I'm not here to blame anyone, I'm here to write a travel guide, and for that I have put mistakes of the past behind me in the best interest of this project. — AC
But the fact is – you're community banned. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 12:48, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
@SHB2000: as indicated above, this was a clear violation of the relevant policies. According to the block policy it should have been a temporary block, not an indefinite ban. — AC
I wasn't here that time so I don't know what happened then. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 13:07, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
You're not going to get very far trying to argue that your expulsion from the site for disgusting, outrageous and demonstrably false expressions of bigotry was a violation of site policies, and such arguments, as well as your expressions in this thread of pride in block-evading, only serve to push wavering individuals into the camp of keeping a permanent sitewide ban on you and undoing all your edits. Your best bet, if you want to have the ban ended, is to shut up for several months. Let us forget you, or at least stop thinking about you. Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:13, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
110% agree. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 13:15, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
@Ikan Kekek: rather than "trying to argue" I'm merely summarizing undisputable facts to give users like User:SHB2000 who weren't here when this conflict started, the chance of forming an unbiased opinion of their own. I do find it quite charming that you can't stop thinking about me, and your appreciation for my work has also not gone unnoticed. But I think it's best for us both if our editing paths on Wikivoyage don't cross for a while. — AC

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── In light of the ongoing debate and discussions, I find it unfortunate and unfair that I am continuously framed as an untrustworthy individual. Those who have done the effort of reading through the "Conclusions" section on my talk page will see that I have kept every single promise and commitment I made nearly 3 years ago. I promised to abstain from editing any articles related to Brussels or Belgium for example, and have since edited none. I also promised to avoid sensitive topics and discussions, and have indeed kept away from talk pages, focussing on editing destination articles almost exclusively. I haven't participated in a single political discussion, have not expressed a single political opinion since I made those commitments. There also hasn't been a single complaint since about any "disgusting, outrageous and demonstrably false expressions of bigotry" that User:Ikan Kekek referred to above being inserted into articles by me. So what's the point of trying to maintain the perception of AC being an unreliable/untrustworthy contributor if no one has found any evidence for it in well over 2 years? — AC

I'll simply let others draw their own conclusions from the tone and content of your remarks while being aware of why you were permabanned and the fact that you have several times evaded the ban and then thumbed your nose at us instead of shutting up about your previous username and just contributing reliable content humbly, which you always had the chance to do had you chosen that path. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:56, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
If it is the ban evasion that bothers you, there is only one way to stop it for once and for all: lifting the ban that's causing it to happen. Without a ban, there would be no further need for ban evasion. — AC
Appreciate the honesty, even if it is disappointing. I will be changing my vote to maintain the indefinite ban and not wasting any more time on this.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 08:38, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
Your attitude and mindset are incompatible with a wiki.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 08:49, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@ThunderingTyphoons!: I'm sorry to hear that and find it very unfortunate because the reason we're having this discussion in the first place, I thought, is that we all realised the conflict that has been going on for nearly 3 years is a waste of time and efforts, and should be resolved. Absolutely no one benefits from this conflict — and certainly not our readers, whose interest should be our first concern. I've already shown goodwill from my side — issued an apology, agreed to temporarily stop editing while the discussion is ongoing at your request — and what I got in return is a list of insults at the ban nominations talk page. The only way forward that doesn't result in wasting even more time for years to come is finding a compromise that results in lifting the ban one way or another. I'm still open to any constructive proposal to resolve this conflict, including yours. I do understand that in a project like Wikivoyage that has about a thousand regular contributors, it's impossible to get along with everyone. But as long as we can get behind the shared goals for this project, I don't see that as a problem. I'm not forcing anyone to collaborate with me on specific articles, there are ample opportunities to contribute to the project without getting in each others way, as User:LPfi summarised quite well. In the end, our readers care very little about who wrote the articles, and whether contributions are attributed to Art​icCynda or an anonymous IP address in the article history is almost irrelevant from the perspective of the traveller. What our readers do not want, however, is pointless edit warring (such as the Igls incident) or relevant travel content being deleted as a result of a feud between editors. If possible, I want to avoid our readers from being affected by such further escalation of this conflict, which is for me the most important motivation to resolve it. — AC

While the Telstra guy does make good contributions, we always revert his contributions (ends in 2-4 numbers). The difference is that your being honest (and we well appreciate it) and the telstra guy avoids all communication. (e.g this is one of his gf edits). But as TT said, I sadly have to agree with you're mindset here. But does the traveller care if it's the telstra guy or not? No they don't and you're right but it's the mindset that's letting you down here. Take care, SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 12:11, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
@SHB2000: That's an interesting example, I did a quick fact check on that edit and what User:Derren838 wrote is paraphrased from the town's unofficial website (and therefore I'm assuming true). So indeed I see no reason to revert contributions that are of use to the traveller if they can be verified to be accurate. It appears we have a different interpretation of the traveller comes first principle. — AC
But he creates a new account for every single edit that he makes and avoids all communication with us. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 13:46, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
I’d say there are two things you could do to increase your chances of getting unblocked.
1) Following the terms of the w:WP:SO - do not evade for six months
2) Try the w:Template:2nd chance. Rewrite and improve a section of a page needing improvement on your talk page.
@ThunderingTyphoons!, SHB2000: I don’t know if I’m allowed to vote at User ban nominations, but if I am, can one of you please add my vote as ‘Let the ban be for nine months and then we’ll decide’. Thanks, 82.3.185.12 14:57, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
You are definitely allowed to vote. We've got that page semi-protected at the moment because of a long-term vandal, so I'll copy your comment there if someone hasn't done so already. Sorry for the inconvenience.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 15:18, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
@ThunderingTyphoons!: can you please also add User:Ibaman's vote to "block and delete"? They made their position clear in this diff. — AC
@82.3.185.12: I think the w:Template:2nd chance is a solid proposal, and to convince those some editors who have doubts, I'll demonstrate my editing skills by improving an existing article that needs improvement as the w:Template:2nd chance procedure describes. I don't have a good view on which articles would qualify, and since you proposed it, would you be so kind to choose an article that would be suitable in your opinion? — AC
I’d say somewhere near you. If you tell me where you live I might be able to suggest a city. 82.3.185.12 15:32, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
I live in the Murmansk region in Russia. I'd prefer not to go too much into detail about my location for privacy reasons, I hope that's okay. — AC

I would recommend the Murmansk Oblast article then. Is that alright with you? 82.3.185.12 15:40, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

@ThunderingTyphoons!: Can you update my comment on the User ban nominations to “AC has agreed to the terms of both the w:WP:SO and the w:Template:2nd chance, so I think five months from now would be fair.” 82.3.185.12 15:46, 21 April 2021 (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestion, that's alright, I think I'll be able to manage improving the Murmansk Oblast article. As per w:Template:2nd chance I'm copying over the existing article contents to the talk page asap. — AC
In fact, there’s one more thing you can do to increase your chances of getting unblocked; apologise for what you did three years ago and promise that you’ll never do it again. 82.3.185.12 14:11, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
@SHB2000: On this page, you said “I’m okay with 9 months. But we still have more people for indef and delete rather than 9 months.” If you’re okay with 9 months, and the only reason you’re not going to change your vote to nine months is because more people have voted for indef block, I just wanted to let you know that this isn’t true as if you changed your vote, then 9 months would have more votes. 82.3.185.12 14:21, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
I wanted indef but if the consensus was 9 months, I'm okay with it. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | en.wikipedia) 21:21, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
@SHB2000: I see. 82.3.185.12 05:21, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
@82.3.185.12: I posted an apology here because even my talk page editing privileges have been taken away, indeed leading to a lot of confusion. Thanks for linking to this discussion on my talk page, by the way! — AC
Although as was mentioned on that talk page, you did not actually sincerely apologise. 82.3.185.12 19:31, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
I'm sorry you feel that way, because the apology was in fact meant completely sincerely. I am still truly sorry for my mistakes, and no one wishes they could be undone more than me. So I do apologise for all the trouble I have caused, and also the time wasted in the aftermath. I can't change the past but have learned from my errors, and that includes making sure history doesn't repeat itself. Taking a positive attitude forward, I thought that my spotless contribution track record from the last 2 years would be more than enough to convince even the most die-hard opponents of my good intentions and alignment with this Wiki project's goals, but apparently I was mistaken. — AC

Conclusion

After nearly 2 months of discussion, it appears no strong consensus could be reached, and there are still Wikivoyagers with concerns/objections against an immediate lift of the ban. As surprising as this is considering my spotless editing track record of the last 2 years, I respect that point of view. There seems to be a strong opposition against further block evasion, and without a broad community consensus for other solutions, the technical procedure outlined in w:WP:SO and w:Template:2nd chance as suggested by User:ThunderingTyphoons! and User:82.3.185.12 seems the only constructive way forward.

The requirements of w:WP:SO and w:Template:2nd chance stipulate that no editing should take place (anonymously or otherwise) for a period of 6 months, after which there must be a commitment to avoid the behaviour that led to the block/ban, and an article should be improved to demonstrate familiarity with project policies and editing competence. As required by w:WP:SO I hereby commit to making no further edits for the period of 6 months, with the exception of the copied Murmansk Oblast article which was suggested as one that needs improvement to comply with w:Template:2nd chance. After that period, I am required to notify an administrator to review the improved article and lift the ban.

Because the 3rd requirement of w:WP:SO is to avoid giving people reasons to object to my return, I feel like it were best not to engage in further discussions on this talk page for the duration of those 6 months — nothing wrong can be said if nothing is said at all.

I thank everyone who contributed to the discussion, wish you all the best, and look forward to resuming constructive cooperation after the procedures of w:WP:SO and w:Template:2nd chance have concluded. — AC

Per Wikivoyage talk:User ban nominations/Archive 2021-2023#User:90.244.151.58 (ArticCynda), your ban was upheld. Drafting further changes to Murmansk Oblast will be a waste of your time, I believe. Sorry. Nurg (talk) 08:16, 11 May 2021 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The procedures proposed by the Wikivoyage community have now concluded: over 6 months have expired, and an article assigned by the Wikivoyage community has also been improved (see the improved copy of the Murmansk Oblast article below). Accordingly, I have applied for an unblock request on my talk page because all requirements are now satisfied. Can administrators review the improved article and address concerns below or on my talk page? Thank you for your patience. — Art​icC​ynda 09:03, 12 October 2021 (UTC)

AC, the "procedures proposed by the Wikivoyage community have now concluded" have never concluded and never will, because the consensus was for an indef ban. And no, none of the requests have been satisfied. SHB2000 (talk | contribs | meta.wikimedia) 09:13, 12 October 2021 (UTC)

Murmansk Oblast

Note: as per w:Template:2nd chance, improving on this article.

The Murmansk Oblast (Russian: Мурманская область) is the northernmost region of Northwestern Russia, dominated by the Kola peninsula. It borders Finland's Lapland to the west, Norway's Finnmark Region to the northwest, the Barents Sea to the north, the White Sea to the southeast (with the Arkhangelsk Oblast across the White Sea), and Karelia to the south. It is a vast arctic region of 145,000 km² and very sparsely populated except for a few population centres of which Murmansk, the oblast capital, is the most important.

Understand

 
An iron ore pit mine near Kovdor

Murmansk is the only major city on the Kola Peninsula; it is Russia's main merchant and fishing port on the Arctic Ocean.

The region's smaller cities mostly owe their existence to mining and mineral processing: Monchegorsk was founded at a copper and nickel mine (which is now exhausted, but the associated metal refinery keeps operating, using ore from Norilsk), Olenegorsk and Kovdor mine iron ore, Kandalaksha has an aluminum refinery. It is not too hard to guess that Apatity processes apatite (the source material for phosphorous fertilizer, mined in nearby Kirovsk), while Nikel (and nearby Zapolyarny) mine and process nickel ore.

The Murmansk Oblast sits on top of the Baltic crystalline shield, a gigantic deposit exceptionally rich in minerals and ores. Over 1,000 different minerals (about 1/4th of all minerals known) have been found in the region, of which 256 were discovered here, and about a 100 are only found in the Murmansk Oblast. The abundance and variety of minerals makes the region a popular destination for mineral collectors.

A special permit may be required for visiting the naval harbors (Severomorsk, Polyarny, etc.) and air bases in Kola Fjord north of Murmansk, or elsewhere in the region.

Besides Russians, the peninsula also has an indigenous population of Sami people. Many of them live in the Oblast's Lovozero District, and are engaged in reindeer husbandry.

Murmansk Oblast is of interest to a tourist mostly for its novelty value—it is in Russia's extreme north, above the Arctic Circle, and is relatively easy to get to from Saint Petersburg. The highlights of a Murmansk Oblast trip are its capital and perhaps also an adventurous trip out to Kola. To heighten the novelty value of your trip, try to come around the summer Equinox, when the sun moves around the sky but never sets, or the winter Solstice, when the sun never rises and the region is plunged into blackness. The winter is cold, but it is also the best time to see the Northern Lights.

Each year, Murmansk Oblast plays host to the Festival of the North, known as Prazdnik Severa, a 10-day annual sporting event in 20 winter sports.

Fauna and flora

Very sparsely populated, one of the Murmansk Oblast's main attractions to the traveller are its fauna and flora. Southern tundra, forest tundra and northern taiga overlap each other latitudinally. Tundras cover 20% of the oblast's territory and are largely barren with only mosses, lichens, and wild berries including blueberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, and cranberries. The south is covered mostly by birch and pine forests. Large scale clear cuts during the Soviet industrialisation in the 1940s – 1960s led to a decimation of the region's forests, which currently only occupy 37% of the area. The Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden Institute in Kirovsk is the northernmost botanical garden in the Russian Federation and worth a visit.

The oblast's fauna is less diverse than elsewhere in the Russian Federation, and counts 32 mammals, 280 birds, and a small number of amphibians and reptiles which have difficulties coping with the extreme cold. Foxes, martens, ermines, wolves, and brown bears are common. Elk and reindeer can be encountered everywhere, both in the wild and domesticated. In the south, a lynx can occasionally be spotted, along with wild boar and deer.

The most interesting bird species to bird watchers are the snowy own, titmouse, hazel and black grouse, and ptarmigan. In coastal areas, gulls, terns, and other seabirds are common.

Lakes and rivers are rich in fish: trout, salmon, char, perch, pike, and turbot can all be found in abundance. Fishing is a popular leisure activity for locals and travellers alike.

History

The Murmansk Oblast has a long and rich history, with archaeological evidence indicating that the 1 Rybachy peninsula   to the north has been settled between 7 - 9 millennia ago. The greater Kola peninsula was settled later by southern explorers from Karelia. There are important Bronze Age archaeological sites around 2 Bolshoy Oleny Island   where settlers arrived 3500 years ago or even earlier. The earliest permanent settlers became the Sami people, who lived in clans ruled by elders, and specialised in reindeer herding and fishing, as the climate makes agriculture difficult with short summer seasons.

In the 12th century, the area was discovered by Russian pomors, explorers from Novgorod founded settlements along the sea coasts of the Kola peninsula, from where they explored a vast territory stretching until Novaya Zemlya. They also established a sea route between Arkhangelsk and the Russian Far East. Present day descendants of these early settlers are still referred to as pomors, a name derived from Pomorsky which literally means maritime, although most are no longer seafarers. The pomors traded with the Sami people and explored the entire northern coast until they reached Finnmark, prompting the Norwegians to establish a naval guard post in the area. The name given by the pomors to the northern coast was Murman, a distortion from Norman which means Norwegian.

The flourishing trade and riches of the area soon attracted attention from the Novgorod republic, which first sent tribute collectors to the pomors and Sami, and gradually annexed the territory. This led to border disputes with the Norwegians, and a series of armed clashed followed. A series of treaties in the 1320s established borders between Norway, Sweden, and the Novgorod republic, which ended decades of armed insurgency. The 1326 border demarcation would remain unchanged for 6 centuries, until 1920. Relative political stability enabled the Novgorod Republic to expand, and they founded settlements such as Umba and Varzuga in the 15th century. Political tensions with Duchy of Moscow increased however, and by the late 1470s the Novgorod Republic as a sovereign state seized to exist when Novgorod was overrun by the armies of Ivan III.

The annexation of the region by the Duchy of Moscow led to the establishment of additional settlements on the Kola peninsula, which eventually caused conflict with pomors and Sami people. They were subsequently forced into slavery by the Russian occupiers, serving monasteries as non-free peasants. The war between Russia and the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway in the second half of the 16th century strengthened the Russian military position, and the administrative and economic centre of the area was established in Kola, first mentioned in 1565, at the estuary of the Kola river and the Kola bay. When St. Petersburg was founded in 1703, most of the shipping trade shifted there, and permanent settlement on the Kola peninsula remained small until the 19th century. This changed in 1887 when a new wave of Russian settlers arrived, bringing deer herds to the region. This led to increased competition for grazing lands and conflicts with the Sami people relying on grazing lands for their reindeer. By the end of the 19th century, the remaining Sami tribes had been driven north, with a Russian majority settling the south of the Kola peninsula.

The situation changed when in the late 19th century Russia became aware of the untapped economic potential in the region, and an effort was made to improve connections of the isolated settlements with Moscow and the rest of Russia. Roads were laid out, and telephone and telegraph lines established. Polyarny was founded, and many settlements grew so rapidly that they soon were granted town status. Development was further accelerated by the outbreak of World War I, when the region found itself in a strategic position as the communication between Russia and the western Allies was severed, and ice-free harbours of the Murman Coast became the only supply line to the Eastern Front. A railway link was built in under 2 years, opening partially completed in 1916. A new town, Murmansk, was built at the terminal point of the railway and quickly grew to the largest city on the Kola peninsula.

After the First World War, the region was occupied by the Soviet Union, and in 1938 the modern Murmansk Oblast was established. The Soviet era brought an influx of settlers to the area, and concentrated in urban areas around the railroads and sea coasts. Inland settlements remained small and focused on animal husbandry. This changed during the 1940s when industrialisation of the Soviet Union tapped into the rich ores in the region. Although silver, copper, and even gold deposits were known since the early 18th century, the difficulties of mining above the arctic circle limited commercial success. Modern equipment and forced labour changed this situation, and mining towns such as Kirovsk were founded to extract nickel, titanium, sulfides, and the mineral apatite after which Apatity was named. Many of the settlers were deported to the region under various Stalinist policies, to build infrastructure or work in the mines. The Soviet era was also disastrous for the Sami people, which were subjected to forced collectivisation in the 1920s, and their nomadic lifestyle was phased out in favour of more economically profitable permanent settlements. As the Sami culture is strongly tied to herding practices, it led to a further decline in Sami culture and language. Sami were forced to settle in Lovozero which became a centre of Sami culture in Russia. Repression of the Sami cultural identify continued until Stalin's death in 1953, at which point the Sami culture had been marginalised.

Orientation

The Murmansk Oblast is dominated by the Kola peninsula which constitutes 70% of the oblast's territory. Continental parts, Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas, and the Ainovskie, Veliky, Kildin, and Seven Islands also belong to the Murmansk Oblast. The majority of the territory is north of the Arctic Circle.

South of the Kola peninsula consist of vast areas of low lands, dotted with lakes. The lakes are a leftover of the last ice age, when the entire Murmansk Oblast was covered by a glacier. When the glacier withdrew, over 110,000 lakes with an area larger than 10 ha were formed. The Khibiny mountain range has peaks up to 1200 m, and the Lovozero tundra consists of large highlands with altitudes up to 1120 m.

Climate

The climate in the Murmansk Oblast varies from cool in the southern part to subarctic maritime in the north, although somewhat tempered by the gulf stream. This North Atlantic Current keeps the ports, including Murmansk, ice-free year round. Above the arctic circle, winters experience a polar night with extreme cold, and summers a polar day. In winter, average temperatures range from –8°C in the coastal northern regions to –15°C in the central regions. Summer temperatures, vary between 8°C to 14°C inland. The darkness of the polar night often causes temperatures to plummet, from –35°C on the Barents Sea coast, –45°C on the White Sea coast, to well below –55°C in the central regions. The barren landscape leads to high winds, which in combination with high humidity makes sub zero temperatures feel even colder. Even during summer nights, temperatures can drop below zero, and snowfall is not uncommon in June. Snow can be expected from October to May in coastal areas, and from September to mid June in the mountainous inland. Summer can, occasionally, be warm too, with summer highs ranging from 27°C on the Barents Sea coast to well over 33°C in the inland mountains. The best months to visit the Murmansk Oblast are therefore late June to mid September.

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Climate chart (explanation)
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See the Murmansk forecast at Climate-Data.org
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Cities

 
A view of Murmansk's harbor
  • 1 Murmansk — the capital and largest city is an important naval base and has a large sea port which remains ice-free year round; the world's largest city north of the Arctic Circle
  • 2 Apatity — mining town on top of one of the richest mineral deposits on the planet, a paradise for rock and mineral collectors
  • 3 Gadzhiyevo   — fishing village on the Barents Sea coastline
  • 4 Kandalaksha — White Sea port surrounded by vast pine forests
  • 5 Kirovsk — a large town with the world's northernmost botanical gardens and a ski resort in the Khibiny Mountains
  • 6 Kola   — the peninsula's oldest town boasts its original fort, the Cathedral of the Assumption (the first stone building in the region), and a museum of local culture
  • 7 Kovdor   — a small town centered around fertilizer production based on its mica, iron, and carbonatite mineral resources
  • 8 Lovozero   — cultural centre of the Sami people and hub for reindeer herding
  • 9 Monchegorsk   — a centre of cobalt, nickel and copper mining, home to the Norilsk Nickel plant
  • 10 Murmashi   — a suburb of Murmansk, and centre of hydroelectricity in the region
  • 11 Nikel — a nickel mining town and border post at the Norwegian border
  • 12 Olenegorsk   — iron ore mining town known as the reindeer mountain
  • 13 Polyarny   — a closed town, one of the region's oldest, on the Murmansk Fjord; it is now a site for decommissioning nuclear Soviet and Russian submarines
  • 14 Polyarnye Zori   — a small town founded to house construction workers for the Kola Nuclear Power Plant
  • 15 Severomorsk — a closed city, the region's second largest city, and the main administrative center of the Russian Northern Fleet
  • 16 Snezhnogorsk   — shipyard for nuclear submarines
  • 17 Umba — historic coastal town at the White Sea shore, with plenty of tourist attractions
  • 18 Varzuga   — a small town on the Kola Peninsula famous for its wooden churches
  • 19 Zaozyorsk   — municipality built around a former Soviet military base
  • 20 Zapolyarny — mining town best known for the Kola Superdeep Borehole science project

Other destinations

 
In the Khibiny

Talk

Russian.

This is part of the Sámi homeland, but the Sámi are a small minority and even among them most only speak Russian. Traditionally Skolt, Kildin, Ter and Akkala Sámi were spoken here, all of which are eastern Sámi languages, not mutually intelligible with e.g. Northern Sámi. The languages now have few speakers, with Lovozero being one of the few places where one of the languages is still widely spoken.

Get in

Permits

Home to the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy, many towns and cities along the Barents Sea coastline are of military strategic importance and therefore closed to visits by both Russian and foreign tourists. Closed settlements are Severomorsk (Northern Fleet base and dry dock), Vidyayevo (nuclear submarine base), Alexandrovsk, Zaozyorsk, and Ostrovnoy (nuclear submarine maintenance). Travelling to any of these requires special permits, and will usually be refused for the purpose of leisure travel.

By plane

 
St Tryphon Monastery in Pechenga, world's northernmost monastery

The easiest way to get in via air from outside Russia is via 1 Murmansk Airport   (formally Emperor Nicholas II Murmansk Airport, MMK IATA), which is served by flights from Moscow (Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, and Domodedovo), Saint Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, Cherepovets, and Krasnodar. There are also seasonal flights to/from Antalya, Helsinki, Anapa, Kaliningrad, Simferopol, and Sochi. The airport is 24 south of Murmansk. It is the only international airport in the Murmansk Oblast.

An alternative airport is 2 Kirovsk-Apatity Airport   (KVK IATA), 15 km southeast of Apatity. It is a relatively young airport, opened in 1994 when a former Soviet Air Force airfield was repurposed for civilian aviation. There are plans to make it an international airport, but currently it only serves domestic connections to Moscow (Demodedovo and Sheremetyevo)), St. Petersburg, and also seasonal flights to Anapa and Sochi.

By train

A single railway, constructed during World War I, connects Murmansk with the rest of Russia. On the way to Murmansk, trains stop in most other cities of the province (Kandalaksha, Polyarnye Zori, Apatity, Olenegorsk [for Monchegorsk]), Kola).

Several trains a day run to Murmansk from Moscow (at least 28 hours) and St Petersburg (24 hours); on the way to Murmansk, they also stop in Petrozavodsk and other towns of Russian Karelia.

There is also a train to Murmansk from Vologda. During the summer holiday season, additional trains are scheduled between Murmansk and popular resort destinations in southern Russia.

Overland from Finland or Norway

From Finland, take the overnight train departing about 19:00 from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. Continue from Rovaniemi by bus in the morning, transfer in Ivalo in the early afternoon (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and be in Murmansk 22:50, spending about the same time on the journey as from Saint Petersburg (including some hours in Rovaniemi and Ivalo). There is probably also a bus from Rovaniemi via Kemijärvi and Salla to Kandalaksha.

There are roads with border crossings from Kirkenes in Norway and from Ivalo and Salla in Finland.

Get around

Most of the region's population centers are located in the north-south valley between Kandalaksha and Murmansk, along which both the St Petersburg–Murmansk railway (with several trains a day) and St Petersburg–Murmansk highway (with several buses a day) run. Buses on the highway run via Kandalaksha, Monchegorsk, and Olenegorsk, with Apatity and Kirovsk on a branch road. Trains run east of Lake Imandra, between Kandalaksha, Apatity, Olenegorsk, and Murmansk.

The highway and railway from Murmansk toward the northwestern Pechenga District and the Norwegian border have much less frequent service.

The ferry Klavdia Elanskaya operates a service along the coastline of the Kola peninsula, connecting remote settlements to Murmansk: Ostrovnoy (3 services/week), and in summer the villages Chapoma, Chavanga, and Sosnovka.

1 Lovozero Airport   is a small military airport 2 km north of Lovozero, and there are local services in the Lovozero district. There are scheduled flights on 2 routes: Lovozero-Krasnoshchelye every Tuesday, and Lovozero-Krasnoshchelye-Kanevka-Sosnovka on Tuesdays every 2 weeks. The flights are by Mi-8 helicopter, and experience on their own. Reservations must be made well in advance.

See

Museums

  • 1 Tonya Tetrina Museum (Тоня Тетрина), Umba, +7 921 740-38-57. Open air museum on the White Sea coast near Umba. It is conceptually an ethnographic museum, recreating the life style of pomors by reconstructing block houses and wooden ships using tools at the disposal of the settlers — including recreating the tools themselves. The interactive exhibitions invite visitors to take part in the ethnographic experience, and learn how surprisingly difficult simple tasks were for fishermen colonising the Kola Peninsula. It's possible to spend the night in a blockhouse or on the nearby camping grounds.  
  • 2 Petroglyps of Kanozero Museum (Петроглифы Канозера), улица Дзержинского 36, Umba, +7 81559 50657, toll-free: +7 921 1672897, . After the discovery of the Kanozero Petroglyps on Kamenny Island in 1997, it soon became clear measures needed to be taken to protect the archaeological heritage site. Although excursions were sporadically organised, the site remained unattended most of the time which led to unintentional destruction by tourists such as trampling of vegetation and damage of the rock carvings. Some vandalism also took place, with modern inscriptions being added to the ancient ones. It was decided in 1998 that some form of regulation was needed, and the proposed solution was to set up a Conservation Centre and a Museum in Umba from where guided tours and excursions would be organised. A budget of 5.45 million rubles was set aside to open the museum. The aim of the museum is to offer an exhibition experience that relieves pressure on the actual archaeological site, and coordinate excursions under supervision of experienced tour guides.  
  • 3 Museum of Geology and Mineralogy (Музей геологии и минералогии имени И. В. Белькова), улица Ферсмана, 16, Apatity, +8 (81555) -79-739, . Founded in 1957 by the Soviet Academy of Sciences, this museum is mostly of academic and scientific importance with a huge collection of mineral specimens and rocks. The museum's objectives are the collection, research, preservation, and display or many minerals, ores and rocks, and educating the general public on geological matters. The museum has a systematic collection of minerals with 2,000 samples on display arranged in Strunz classification (elements, sulphides, halides, carbonates, sulfates, oxides, phosphates, and silicates). Many of these specimens are rarities found in the Kola and Khibiny mountains, and cannot be seen in any other mineralogy museum in the world. In addition to the systematic collection there is also a collection of 800 ore samples with various levels of economic importance (including nickel and cobalt ores that were the driving factors behind the region's wealth). Of the 285 minerals discovered in the Kola region, 90 were discovered by scientists of the museum, and 200 are on display in this exhibition halls. Early 2020 there were 9270 specimens in the museum's collection, enough to spend a whole day looking at colourful crystals.  
  • 4 Museum of Polar Olympics (Музей истории полярных олимпиад), ул. Книповича, д. 23а, Murmansk (take trolley bus 3 or 6, get off at Detsky Mir or take bus 10 or 27 and get off at Knipovich St.), +7 (815) 247-6949. Sa-W 10:00-18:00. The only sports museum in the Murmansk Oblast, opened in 1986 for the 50th anniversary of the Holiday of the North. Its story begins with the first Festival of the North in 1934, the development of sports activities in subsequent years, and international competitions in the context of the Polar Olympics since 1970. The museum also serves as a centre for the promotion of physical education and sports in the Arctic. There are are many interesting items in the collection on display such as skis from the early 19th century, and countless medals and awards won by local athletes. Free.  
  • 5 Kovdor Local History Museum (Ковдорский районный краеведческий музей), ул. Коновалова, 3, Kovdor. Anthropological and mineralogical museum about the history of Kovdor and the west of the Murmansk Oblast. The museum is part of the Murmansk Museum of Local Lore since 1990 but managed to retain its collection of 6515 items, of which 3527 are on display and another 2700 are kept for scientific research purposes. Aside from an extensive collection of local minerals and rocks, there is attention to traditions of the settlers (Sami and Pomors) with ceramics, paintings, gramophones, samovars, and spinning wheels on display. The museum also runs geological excursions for children, for example the Amethyst Coast, where children and students can excavate minerals under supervision of geologists and learn about them. The excursion schedule can be found on the website (in Russian only).  
  • 6 Museum of the Murmansk Shipping Company (Музей истории Мурманского морского пароходства), ул. Володарского, дом 6, Murmansk, +7 (815 2) 48-10-18. Tu, F 14:00-17:00, W 09:00-13:00. A naval museum founded in 1977 to document the exceptional achievements of the Murmansk Shipping Company to keep the northern sea route ice free for trade, employing icebreakers to clear passages for cargo and passenger ships since 1939. The museum has a large collection of memorabilia related to the company such as bells, ship models, submarine models, portraits of captains and countless pictures. There is a lot of attention for the role of nuclear icebreakers in the fleet, with models of nuclear reactors among one of the highlights, and many dioramas with ships. The museum also has a permanent exhibition on the nature of the Arctic.  
  • 7 Regional Museum of Art (Мурманский областной художественный музей), улица Коминтерна, 13, Murmansk, +7 (8152) 45-03-85, . 11:00-19:00 daily. Museum of fine arts with a collection of 5,000 pieces of art from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The museum is housed in an impressive historic building dated 1927, beautifully restored in 1989 with the explicit purpose of housing the museum. It received its first paintings, drawings, sculptures, and compositions in 1990, and the permanent exhibition area is over 1000 m² with an additional 475 m² for temporary expositions and events. The museum also has a reading hall and a museum shop. Although there are works from many artists, the main emphasis is on local art from the Murmansk Oblast, with works from Mikhail Konstantinovich Clodt, Nikolai Nevrev, Walter Altenburg, and many more. It is one of the more popular museums in the region, drawing 60,000 visitors annually.  
 
A Soviet MiG-31, one of the fastest jet fighters ever built, on display in the Northern Fleet Air Force Museum
  • 8 Museum of the Air Forces of the Northern Fleet (Музей военно-воздушных сил Северного флота), Safonovo, Severomorsk (take bus 105 from Murmansk railway station). Th-M 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. A military history museum dedicated to the Air Forces of the Northern Fleet, most prominently the squadrons that defended the Soviet airspace during the Second World War and the Cold War. It was founded in 1976 for the 40th anniversary of the formation of the first fighter squadron, and its collection has since grown through acquisition of numerous planes and helicopters which are restored by museum volunteers. The 3 halls of the museum are dedicated respectively to the Second World War, the post-war period, and a memorial to pilots and ground personnel that died during the battles. There are memorials for 53 pilots who received the Hero of the Soviet Union award, including legendary commander B.F. Safonov who was even awarded the prestigious medal twice. In 1983, the house in which famous cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lived was moved from Luostari to the museum grounds. Several aircraft in the collection were lost when the roof of an old aircraft hangar collapsed in 1990, there are currently 18 aircraft and over 14,000 historic pieces on display.  
  • 9 Northern Fleet Naval Museum (Военно-морской музей Северного флота), Alexandra Tortseva, 15, Murmansk, +7 (815) 222-14-45. Th-M 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. A military history museum dedicated to the Northern Fleet, the most important strategic defense force in the Arctic. It opened in 1946 in the building of the officer's mess in Murmansk, with its first exposition titled "Defense of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War 1941 - 1945" about the role of the Soviet Navy during the Second World War. The museum has a collection of about 65,000 original pieces on display on 1200 m². The museum has received recognition as one of the best military museums in the Russian Federation. The current exposition covers the entire period from 1693 to the present, and the collection is considered the most important maritime heritage of Russia. It has branches in Severomorsk: the K-21 submarine museum and the Air Forces museum.  
  • 10 Kirovsk Museum of Local Lore (Историко-краеведческий музей), Советская улица 9, Kirovsk, +7 8 (815 31) 5-26-68, . Museum about the history of Kirovsk and its surrounding area. The first half of the history focuses on the relatively young town and how it came to be an established hub in the region, gaining prosperity from mining activities despite the long and harsh winters (with snowfall often until June). The second half details its transition from a mining town to the modern tourist resort Kirovsk is known for, including its winter sports amenities: development of its ski resorts, cross country ski tracks, and paragliding in the Khibiny Mountains. A guided tour is recommended to make the most of it exhibitions.  
  • 11 Submarine K-21 (K-21), Severomorsk, +7 (88153) 762850, . Former Soviet Navy submarine, 97 m long and 7.4 m wide, with a water displacement of 2104 tons underwater, laid down in 1937 in Leningrad. The vessel joined the Baltic Fleet and in 1941 was enlisted in the Northern Fleet of the Soviet Navy. It was involved in mining operations in 1941, but gained fame when it engaged German battleship Tirpitz on 5 July 1942 around Ingay island with torpedoes. In total, K-21 sank 17 transport vessels and warships. After the Second World War, the submarine took part in oceanographic work around Novaya Zemlya, and after decommissioning in 1954 it served as a training base for a further 20 years. In 1981 it was delivered to the dry dock of Polyarny and converted into a museum ship. 3 of its 7 compartments were refurbished and upgraded, and the K-21 departed on its final journey to Severomorsk where it has since served as a museum, sitting on a pedestal in the harbour.    
  • 12 Mineralogical Museum (Мончегорский музей цветного камня имени В. Н. Дава), Metallurgov Ave. 46, Monchegorsk, +7 (81536) 55-33-8, toll-free: +7 (81536) 5-52-75. Tu-Su 12:00-18:00. A municipal non-profit institution dedicated to petrology and mineralogy, founded in 1970 by Soviet geologist Vladimir Nikolaevich Dava, after whom the museum is named. The museum started as a collection of the Monchegorsk laboratory of stone masonry, a branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. When the laboratory moved to Apatity in 1976, it was Dava who lobbied for the foundation of a formal museum to prevent it from closing. In 1983 the museum became a branch of the Murmansk Museum of Local Lore, and for its 30th anniversary in 2000 it was awarded the status of municipal institution. The museum's collection is built around samples of minerals native to the Kola Peninsula, the unique geology of which led over a 100 minerals to be discovered in Murmansk Oblast. The remaining collection contains mineral specimens from elsewhere in the Soviet Union. The museum attracts around 9,000 visitors per year, drawn to over 3,000 minerals showcased on an exhibition area of 540 m².  
  • 13 Monchegorsk City History Museum (Музей истории города), улица Царевского 2, 184511 Monchegorsk, +7 81536 76073, . Museum about the history of the city, emphasising its origin as a Sami settlement (the word monce means beautiful in Sami). The museum has a collection of historic documents and displays detailing the early years of the city as a nickel and copper mining town, quickly growing in population in the 1930s. Considerable attention has been given to the role of water in the city's development, which grew on its own peninsula surrounded by water on 3 sides.  
  • 14 Museum and Exhibition Centre JSC Apatit (Музейно-выставочный центр АО "Апатит"), Lenina 4A pr., Kirovsk, +7 (815 31) 32-887, . 10:00—21:00 daily. Museum about the history of the Kola peninsula and its early settlers, with collections on mining and mining equipment, and an extensive collection of rare minerals native to the region, many of which are only found around Kirovsk — including Murmanite, an extremely rare sodium titanium silicate mineral that was first found in the Chinglusuai River Valley. Guided tours are available in Russian and English. Free.  
  • 15 Pomors Cultural Centre (Центр поморской культуры), Nikolskaya street, 9, Varzuga. by appointment only. Former house of a local merchant named Kagachev, the building on the Nicholas side of the Varzuga River was converted into an elementary school. After a designated school building was constructed, the house was transformed into a cultural centre for the Pomor people, the early settlers colonizing the wilderness of the Kola Peninsula. Free.  
  • 16 Khibiny Literary Museum of Venedikt Yerofeyev (Хибинский литературный музей Венедикта Ерофеева), Lenin Ave., 15, Kirovsk (in the Central City Library), +7 815 315-46-34, . M-Th 11:00-19:00, Sa-Su 11:00-18:00. A museum dedicated to Soviet writer Venedikt Yerofeyev (1938 - 1990), one of the leaders of the modernism movement. This small literature museum housed in the Central Library of Kirovsk takes visitors back in time to the Soviet Union of the 1960s, and addresses every aspect of Yerofeyev's life, including a lot of personal memorabilia.  
  • 17 Regional Museum of Local Lore (Мурманский областной краеведческий музей), Lenin Ave. 90, Murmansk (trolleybus no. 3, bus no. 3T, mashrutkas no. 52, 54), +7 (8152) 99-43-70, . 11:00-18:00 daily. Founded in 1926, the Museum of Local Lore is the oldest in the region and by far the most popular, won numerous awards, and receiving around 100,000 visitors per year. Its vast collection of 160,000 historical objects is displayed on an area of 2612 m², making it also the largest museum in the region. Part of the collection is an extensive library with 18,000 books, original manuscripts, and magazines published in the Russian Artic. The permanent exposition spans 17 halls (with 2 more for temporary expositions), and covers subjects ranging from fauna and flora of the Murmansk Oblast to science and technology, history, and anthropology. The entire history of the region from ancient times to the present is presented: the archaeology of northern Kola, economy and life of the Sami people starting in the 17th and 18th century, founding of Romanov-on-Murman, the Russian Civil War, and life during the Soviet era. Of particular interest is the geological collection, with an accurate display of the Barents Sea floor, numerous minerals unique to the Murmansk Oblast, and core samples collected at the Kola Superdeep Borehole from depths down to 12 km in the earth's crust. Over 100 expositions are organised annually, and the museum attracts interest from students, locals, as well as tourists.  
  • 18 Museum of the History of the Kola Sami (Музей истории кольских саамов), Soviet St. 28, 184592 Lovozero, +7 (81538) 40-282. Tu-F 09:00 - 17:15, Sa 09:00-17:00. The only museum in the Russian Federation dedicated to the history, life, and culture of the Sami people. It was founded in 1962 in Lovozero, the centre of Sami culture, by school teacher Pavel Polikarpovich Yuriev as an educational collection. It soon attracted attention from the Regional Soviet Ministry of Culture and already in 1968 received the official status of regional museum of local lore. The growing collection was moved to a dedicated building in 1987 and grew to 300 m². The collection spans the history and culture of the Sami people in Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Norway from the 16th century to contemporary times. Exhibits document the development of the Lovozero region in early Soviet times (1920s-1930s), the Second World War, economic and cultural developments in the 1950s-1980s, and the reindeer husbandry traditions. Of particular interest is the museum's archaeological collection, featureing stone petroglyps dating back to the 1st millennium BC, and a collection of fine arts and Sami household items.  
  • 19 Museum of History, Culture and Life of Terek Pomors (Музей истории, культуры и быта терских поморов), Dzerzhinsky St. 78, 184703 Umba, +7 (81559) 51532. Tu-W 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00, Th-F 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:15, Sa 09:00-16:00. A small museum dedicated to the life and culture of the Pomors, early settlers of the Kola Peninsula. The museum was established in 1988 as a private initiative and by decree of the Department of Culture of the Murmansk Oblast Executive Committee it became a department of the Murmansk Regional Museum of Local Lore. The collection addresses early economy of the Pomors, including fishing, hunting, shipbuilding, and pearl fishing, as well as handicrafts in the 18th and 20th centuries (carpentry, joinery, woodworking, shoemaking, decorations and jewellery). The collection features 733 original objects and replicas of Pomor log cabins and huts.  

Monuments

  • 20 Monchegorsk War Memorial, Monchegorsk. 24/7. A war memorial inaugurated in 2016, honouring victims of armed conflicts. It prominently features a BMP-1 APC, which was brought to Monchegorsk from an armour plant in Saint Petersburg. Memorial plaques list the names of the Monchegorsk people who died in the line of military duty in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Free.  
  • 21 Monument to the Defenders of the Arctic (Памятник Защитникам Заполярья), Metallurgov Ave., Monchegorsk (on the shore of Lake Imandra). 24/7. A monument in honour of those who defended the Arctic against the German invasion as part of their Arctic campaign during the Second World War, which was aimed at capturing the strategic port of Murmansk. The monument consists of a 13 m tall stele with statues of a sailor and a soldier in front of it, both carrying fire arms. The authors of the sculpture are Moscow sculptor Viktor Efremovich Korolev, member of the Union of Artists of the Soviet Union, and Second World War veteran himself. The bronze sculptures were cast at the Mytishchi metal casting workshop. Free.  
  • 22 Elk (Лось), Five Corners Square , Monchegorsk. 24/7. Real life size sculpture of an elk, one of the icons of Monchegorsk, inaugurated in 1958. The bronze elk, weighing 5 tons, is a design from sculptors B. Ya. Vorobiev and A.V. Degtyarev, and was cast in Saint Petersburg with dimensions of 4.3 x 4.5 m. The pedestal is a block of granite with a weight of approx. 70 tons. Free.  
  • 23 Monument to Cyril and Methodius (Памятник Кириллу и Мефодию), Murmansk. 24/7. A 6 m tall bronze statue dedicated to saints Cyril and Methodius, it is an exact copy of the statue in front of the National Library in Sofia by the hand of artist Vladimir Ginovski. It was given to the city of Murmansk by Bulgaria following an initiative of Murmansk writers in 1986 to celebrate the Day of Slavic Written Language and Culture in the Soviet Union, which became an official public holiday soon after. The statue was inaugurated in 1990. Free.  
  • 24 Monument in Honour of the Fallen Builders (Памятник «В честь строителей, погибших в 1941—1945 годах»), Profsoyuzov St., Murmansk. 24/7. An easily overlooked monument, designed as a tribute for the construction workers and engineering squads who gave their life for the defence of the Russian Arctic during the Second World War. The monument depicts a military fortification, in concrete and dark red granite, which is a symbol for the many bunkers that were erected by military builders — often under enemy fire. The design is from architect F.S. Taksis, and from the hand of sculptor G.A. Glukhikh. The monument was erected at this location because it was the place where in 1941 detachments of volunteers were formed with the responsibility to defend and restore the city. On the left side of the monument is a bas-relief depicting 2 soldiers, on the right side there an inscription reading "Dedicated to the memory of the soldier-builders of Murmansk". Inaugurated in 1974 for the 30th anniversary of the defeat of the invading German army, and the end of the Arctic Campaign. Free.  
  • 25 Monument to the Heroes of the North Sea fallen during the Great Patriotic War (Памятный знак «Героям североморцам погибшим в годы Великой Отечественной войны»). 24/7. A memorial in honour of the heroes of the Red Banner Northern Fleet, inaugurated on 13 October 1974 for the 30th anniversary of the defeat of invading German troops in the Arctic. The monument is a stele, slightly inclined forward, placed on the granite slope of a hill. The stele is designed by F.S. Taksis, and assembled from riveted metal sheets. The front side of the obelisk is decorated with a free-hanging anchor, and the fence is supported by artillery shells. Free.  
  • 26 Alyosha Monument (Алёша, Защитникам Советского Заполярья в годы Великой Отечественной войны). 24/7. The second tallest statue in the Russian Federation, this hollow 35.5 m tall monument on a 7 m tall pedestal weighs over 5,000 tons. The statue depicts a soldier in a greatcoat with a submachine gun slung over his shoulder, facing west toward the Valley of Glory where Soviet forced managed to stop the German advance during the Second World War and turned them back before reaching Murmansk. A turning point in the German Arctic Campaign, the fierce battles at the Zapadnaya Litsa River incurred a heavy cost to the Soviet defenders. The monument is flanked by anti-aircraft guns, which were part of the air defences of Murmansk during the war. In front of the monument is an eternal flame, and a little closer to the statue a triangular pyramid representing a flag at half-mast as a sign of mourning for the fallen soldiers. The memorial site was inaugurated in 1974, with battle cruiser Murmansk in the Kola Bay saluting the monument with 30 volleys in its honour. It is an example of constructivist Soviet art, and offers visitors a magnificent view over the city of Murmansk. Free.    
  • 27 Monument to the Victims of the Intervention (Памятник жертвам интервенции), Площадь Пять Углов (Мурманск) (Five Corners Square). 24/7. A monument in Constructivist architectural style at Five Corners Square in Murmansk, serving as a memorial for those killed during the Russian Civil War. It was built in 1927 on top of a mass grave containing the bodies of at least 136 victims. The white painted concrete monument has a plaque reading "Victims of the intervention 1918-1920" referring to the failed invasion of British Army forces in response to the October Revolution. The monument was inaugurated during the tenth anniversary of the Revolution. Free.    
  • 28 Valley of Glory (Долина Славы). 24/7. A valley on the right bank of the Zapadnaya Litsa River, on the E105 highway from Kirkenes to Yalta. It is an area of cultural heritage of regional significance. The valley was an important battlefield during the Second World War when German invaders advanced in an attempt to capture the strategic port of Murmansk. In the morning of 2 July 1941, German troops arrived at the river, outnumbering the Soviet defenders in both numbers and materiel. The attackers crossed the river, but were stopped by a Soviet infantry division. German attempts to break through to Murmansk were repelled, leading to a failure of the German offensive. A memorial to the defenders of the Soviet Arctic was erected in the valley. Around 7,000 soldiers are buried in the memorial cemetery, but the search continues to the present — in 2018, another 72 Red Army soldiers found in and around what was then called Death Valley were re-buried in the memorial cemetery. Free.    
  • 29 Monument to the Heroes of Severomorsk (Памятник Героям-Североморцам, защитникам Заполярья), Severomorsk. 24/7. A 17 m tall figure of a sailor carrying a machine gun, inaugurated in 1973. The monument is the result of a decade-long debate, starting during the Second World War when residents decided to erect a monument in honour of their comrades who died at the front. The first proposal was a monumental lighthouse on Salnoye Island, and over 5 million rubles were collected for its construction. By the end of the war in 1945, public works in the city had been neglected, and it was decided to spend the money on necessary infrastructure repairs instead. The question was raised again in the 1950s, and eventually the statue was cast at the bronze works of Leningrad. The pedestal of the statue symbolises the cabin of a submarine. Bronze bas-reliefs are inscribed with the formations, units, and ships that distinguished themselves during the war. Free.  
  • 30 Lenin Monument (Памятник Ленину), Lenin Square, Apatity. 24/7. Monument to Lenin, a 3 m tall metal statue on a dark pedestal inaugurated in 1967. Flowers are laid at the statue every year on 22 April, Lenin's birthday. The statue is a protected cultural heritage monument of the Russian Federation. Free.  
  • 31 Monument to Waiting Women (Ждущая), Chumbarova-Luchinskogo St, Murmansk. 24/7. A 6 m tall monument to a woman waiting for her sailor. Even during peace times, the Barents Sea is an unforgiving biome, and with riches such as the infamous crabs come great risks in catching them. In the mid-1970s, Viktor Timofeev, a local poet from Murmansk, wrote a famous poem about anxious families of sailors waving their husbands, fathers, or brothers out as they leave the relative safety of Kola Bay for the dangers of the open sea. Several proposals for a monument were made, but it took until 1998 for a decision to be made. The winning design was sent in by sculptors Chumakov and Anushko from Smolensk. The city considered different locations for the monument: the harbour, the Church of the Saviour-on-Waters, the fishery college, and several others. None of those locations could be seen from Kola Bay however, so it was decided to erect the monument at the terminus of bus 18 which overlooks the bay. Over 3.3 million rubles were donated by 232 companies and over 600 individuals, with an additional 11 million provided by the city council to prepare the area. The 600 kg heavy sculpture was cast in bronze, and stands on a 18 ton granite pedestal. The design originally featured a younger girl in a raincoat, but this was deemed too pessimistic, and swapped for the final design with a lighter scarf and a seagull on a bollard. The pedestal has an engraved inscription translating to "Those who know how to wait...". Free.  
  • 32 Semyon the Cat (Памятник коту Семёну) (near Lake Semenov). 24/7. In 1987, the Sinishins family was returning home to Murmansk, accompanied by their Siamese cat Semyon, after a holiday. Alas, during a stop in Moscow Semyon got missing, and the family lost all hope to ever see their beloved pet again. Against all odds, a pretty shabby Semyon appeared at the doorstep of the family's apartment 6 years later, after a journey of what must have been over 2000 km. The incredible journey of Semyon quickly became legendary, and it was decided to erect a statue of Semyon near Lake Semenov. A contest was opened, and the winning entry was from Muscovite Nadezhda Vinyukova, with 1568 votes. Semyon was cast in bronze at the Dubrovin workshop in Yekaterinburg by Chelyabinsk sculptor Yuri Borisenkov. The final bronze statue weighs 120 kg and sits on a bench overlooking the lake. Free.  
 
Chapel built into a lighthouse as a memorial to sailors who died in peacetime
  • 33 Memorial to Sailors who died in peacetime (Морякам, погибшим в мирное время), Chelyuskintsev St. 24/7. The memorial complex is a tribute to all sailors who have died during peacetime. The dominant architectural feature is a hexagonal tower functioning as a lighthouse, with a height of 17.5 m. A wide marble staircase approaches the lighthouse from both north and south sides. South of the lighthouse is an anchor with a capsule containing sea water buried under it. The lighthouse's ground floor features a memorial museum, with memorial plaques in memory of sailors of different fleets who died at sea during peacetime. Although not easy to reach by public transport it is worth a visit because the complex offers a fantastic view over the city and Kola Bay. Also of interest, as a relic of more modern history, is the memorial to the Kursk disaster from 2000. The Kursk was a nuclear submarine participating in a naval exercise in the Barents Sea when it sank, killing all 118 sailors trapped inside. The submarine was recovered in a salvage operation, transported to a dry dock, and the sail was salvaged and used as the front of the monument installed in 2009. Free.  
  • 34 Ermak Icebreaker Monument (Памятник ледоколу «Ермак»), Lenin Ave. 90, Murmansk (next to the Museum of Local Lore). 24/7. The Ermak icebreaker is considered the world's first icebreaker, commissioned in 1898. This coal powered ship had 6 steam boilers with a total power of 5.5 MW, and a capacity to carry 3900 tons of coal on its journeys. It was one of the first ships to reach the north of Spitsbergen in 1899 and cleared the northern Arctic passage. The ship gained fame with several rescue missions of stranded fishing vessels, and for keeping a part of the Russian fleet out of reach of the German fleet during the First World War. Service continued until after the Second World War when it received upgrades in Antwerp in 1949, however, it became evident that upgrading the power plant of the coal fired ship to update it to modern standards would be too expensive. After 65 years of service, the Ermak was finally decommissioned in 1963 and despite opposition of the public scrapped in 1964. One of this anchors was preserved for the monument. Free.  

Science and Technology

  • 35 Kislaya Guba Tidal Power Station (Кислогубская ПЭС). The only tidal power station in Russia, this Soviet era experimental station was built in 1968 on a dammed fjord. The innovative power station produces truly renewable energy from water flow in and out of the fjord as tidal levels vary by about 5 m. With only a 400 kW generator, the little station managed to generate an impressive 8 TWh of green energy over 50 years, for which it received a gold medal for innovation at Expo 2005 in Japan. The station is a historic site of scientific value, and worth a visit for those interested in power engineering. Free.    
  • 36 Kola Superdeep Borehole (Кольская сверхглубокая скважина). 24/7. A Soviet scientific drilling project, the Superdeep Borehole was an attempt to drill as deep as possible into the Earth's crust. Drilling commenced in 1970 and became the deepest man-made hole in history in 1979. Several 23 cm diameter boreholes branched off from a central hole, of which the deepest reached 12,262 m in 1989 making it the deepest artificial point on Earth. It held the record for both longest and deepest borehole in the world for 20 years, until it was surpassed in length in 2008 by an oil well in Qatar. It remains the deepest (measured vertically) hole on the planet. The project made numerous scientific discoveries, but was ultimately shut down in 1994 due to lack of funding after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A cap was permanently welded to the hole, and the site abandoned. Some of the surface structures have since collapsed, and it became a popular attraction in the region. Free.    
  • 37 Svyatonossky lighthouse (Святоносский маяк). 24/7. One of the oldest operating lighthouses in the Russian Federation and a cultural heritage site, this 22 m tall lighthouse 94 m above sea level has been in operation since 1862. It stands at the location of an even older wooden lighthouse built in 1828, but it was decided to replace it with a network of lighthouses in 1835 to ensure the safety of ships navigating the Kola Peninsula. In its original configuration the lighthouse had 18 lamps and 18 reflectors mounted on the tower, and was serviced by a permanent team of 7 caretakers which all lived in the lighthouse. After several unfortunate deaths from scurvy during the winter, the team moved to Varzuga and the lighthouse was taken care off by the Lapps. In 1890 the lighting system was upgraded to a more modern system using a fresnel lense but the power output was unsatisfactory, so after only 10 years it was again upgraded to kerosene powered incandescent torches. Further upgrades to natural gas followed in 1917, and finally electric lighting in the 1930s. The current lighthouse is powered by an array of 6 solar panels. Free.  
 
Icebreaker Lenin, the world's first nuclear powered surface ship, now a museum
  • 38 Lenin icebreaker (Ленин), Portovy proezd, 25, 183038 Murmansk, +7 911 3456 777, . guided tours W—Su 12:00, 14:00, 16:00. The world's first nuclear powered surface ship, commissioned in 1959 as an icebreaker to clear trade routes along Russia's vast northern shoreline. From 1960 to 1965 the ship cleared 100,000 km of ice in the Arctic, and solidified nuclear propulsion technology as the ideal technology for ships in the Arctic. The original ship had 3 nuclear reactors fuelled by enriched uranium, with a power output of about 90 MW each, and as cylinders with a diameter of 1 m and a height of 1.6 m surprisingly compact. In the 1970s they were upgraded to 2 new reactors with a power output of 170 MW each, which were more found to be more reliable. By 1989 the hull of the ship had worn thin because of friction with the ice, and it was formally decommissioned and laid up at Murmansk, the nation's base for nuclear icebreakers. The Lenin was converted into a museum ship, completed in 2005. Atomflot organises guided tours around the ship, showing engine room, reactors (now defuelled), crew quarters, medical bay, mess, bridge, etc. Tours are about 50 minutes, no reservation needed. There are limited information panels in English. Admission and Russian tour 500 руб, tours in English also available for groups from 1 - 25 pers. for 1500 руб.    
  • 39 Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden Institute (Полярно-альпийский ботанический сад-институт (PABSI)), Akademgorodok, 18A, Apatity, +79210434150, . M-Th 09:00-17:15, F 09:00-17:00, Sa-Su closed. Founded in 1931, the institute occupies a territory along the banks of the Vudyavryok River with an area of 1670 ha, of which only a small section is open to the public. In the lower part, 80 ha are allocated to a park, plant nurseries, greenhouses with tropical and subtropical plants. The plant nurseries have a collection of over 400 plants growing in the Murmansk Oblast, and the number of species in greenhouses exceeds 1000 (including deserts and semi-deserts). It is the northernmost botanical garden in the world and one of the few alpine (high mountain) botanical gardens. Self-guided tours of the botanical garden and greenhouse are possible from February, enjoying the collection of tropical and subtropical plants at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 18:00 without appointments. For the more adventurous minded, the 4.5 km long ECO tour path guides visitors from the Botanical Garden through a number of distinct vegetation zones from 320 to 570 m above sea level. Other themed excursions and tours are also available (rock garden, herbarium etc.). Seeds and seedlings can be purchased in the gift shop.  

Archaelogical Sites

  • 40 Kanozero petroglyphs (Музей-заповедник «Петроглифы Канозера»), st. Dzerzhinsky, 36, Umba, +7 (81559) 50657, . July — August M 08:00—17:00, Tu-F 08:00—18:00, Sa-Su 10:00-16:00. A collection of rock carvings, dated to the 3rd millennium BC, making them the oldest archaeological site of the Murmansk Oblast. They were discovered in 1997 on islands in Lake Kanozero, and in the 2000s the museum was inaugurated. A decade later, in 2014 researchers from the Revda Museum of Local Lore and the Kola Archaeological Expedition discovered over a thousand more carvings and drawings on 3 islands, and a glass dome was constructed over the rock carvings to protect them against erosion. The meaning of the figures has not yet been deciphered. Free, paid excursions available.    
  • 41 Babylon Stone Labyrinth (Каменный лабиринт «Вавилон») (on the White Sea shore west of Umba). 24/7. A stone labyrinth, dated to the 2nd millennium BC. Its original purpose is unknown, but is assumed to be ritualistic in nature. It shows striking similarities to 2 other labyrinths on the Kola Peninsula, one in Kandalaksha and another near Rogozero Lake around Murmansk. What distinguishes the Umba labyrinth is that it is laid out on rocky soil at an angle. The labyrinth is a designated archaeological site. In recent years archaeologists have argued that the layout of the labyrinth and its condition indicate it can be not older than 20 to 30 years. The debate on whether it is an artefact of ancient civilisation or an elaborate joke from modern times is ongoing, and locals reported that large ravens can be seen circling around the labyrinth adding to the mysticism of the place. Free.  
  • 42 Teriberka ship graveyard (Кладбище кораблей), Teriberka (from Teriberka village, cross the bridge over the river, turn right and follow the shoreline for about 1 km). 24/7. A graveyard of wooden ships, left to decay and rot on the shoreline of Teriberka river. The ships were once part of a comprehensive Soviet initiative to boost the economy in the region, fishery in particular. Now the rotting fishing vessels are a solemn reminder of more prosperous times long gone, a silent monument to the Soviet vision that once established human civilisation to the far north. The ship graveyard is nothing out of the ordinary, and one of the few tourist attractions around Teriberka village — but it became a popular stop for guided tour groups. On the opposite river bank, Teriberka village has a white sand beach to enjoy. Free.  

Religious Architecture

  • 43 Holy Ascension Cathedral (Свято-вознесенский кафедральный собор), Красноармейская улица 15A, Monchegorsk, +7 81536 59979, . daily 07:30 - 20:00. A Christian Orthodox cathedral, with characteristic white walls and gold roof. With a height of 46.5 m one of the tallest buildings in Monchegorsk. Free.  
  • 44 Annunciation Church, Zapolyarye Zashchitnikov Avenue 22, Kola. This Christian Orthodox church is the oldest stone building on the Kola Peninsula. Curiously it was empress Catherine II who in 1783 granted Kola as the then northernmost settlement of the Russian Empire a stone cathedral, and donated 8,000 rubles for the construction work. No contractor at the time was willing to take the risk of constructing a stone building above the Arctic circle, and the fund disappeared into a bank account for 15 years. During the coronation of Emperor Paul I in Moscow, Catherine's favour was turned into an order, and construction commenced on a stone church building. By then, the funds had generated interest to a total amount of 14,000 rubles, a fortune at the beginning of the 19th century. The church was consecrated in 1805, but it was not until a local merchant donated another 2,400 rubles that iconostasis and decorations were added in 1817. During the British attack on Kola in 1854, the church was set ablaze by artillery shelling, and its 34 kg bell was turned into a shapeless metal ingot. It was rebuilt as a cathedral in 1866. Tide turned in 1937 when the Soviet government closed all churches on the Kola Peninsula, and the church narrowly escaped demolition. The church was used as a masonry workshop and later as a warehouse, but by the 1980s the structure had fallen into disrepair and was once again scheduled to be demolished. However its heritage value was recognised by Decree of the Soviet Council of Ministers in 1974, and in 1984 the Museum of Pomor Life was opened in the church to give it a new occupation. After dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, the building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church and reopened for worship after restoration. Free.  
  • 45 St. Peter and St. Paul Church (Церковь Петра и Павла), Varzuga. A 19th century wooden church, and the most popular place of worship in Varzuga since its inception in 1864. The church continued to serve until 1937 when Soviet authorities banned further religious services. It was converted into a canteen for the military detachment serving the Varzuga military airfield during the Second World War. After the war, the church building was used as a warehouse, and lack of maintenance over the course of decades caused it to deteriorate. The bell tower was demolished. It was only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that the church was revitalised, and religious services resumed in 1999. Despite its status of a cultural heritage site, it remains in a state of disrepair.  
 
The Pechenga Monastery
  • 46 Holy Trinity Trifonov Pechengsky Monastery (Печенгский монастырь) (from the railway station take bus Murmansk-Nikel or Murmansk-Zapolyarny, get off at Luostari, then continue 1.5 km by foot), +7 (921) 168 12 22, . guided tours only. The oldest monastery on the Kola Peninsula, and for a long time the northernmost monastery in the world, it was founded in 1533 near the mouth of the Pechenga river because of its favourable location for fishing and trade. The monastery was assaulted by the Finns in 1589 under command by the Swedish king, and the entire population of the monastery was slaughtered and the wooden buildings burned to the ground. It was rebuilt on a new location across the Kola River where it could be more easily defended, and a cathedral church was built. Political troubles ensued, and in 1765 the monastery was abolished by a decree of Empress Catherine II. The monastery was left in ruin after the October Revolution, and the monastic community was evacuated to Finland during the Soviet-Finnish War. The abbot was captured by the Soviets and executed for treason in 1940. The last of the monks died in Finland in 1984 at the respectable age of 110. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church announced the reopening of the monastery in 1997. When a fire broke out in December 2007 and the main temple of the monastery completely burned down, it was decided to restore the monastery in its form predating the October Revolution on the site of its original location near Luostari. It was consecrated in 2012 in honour of the Holy Trinity, and almost all buildings have been reconstructed. Free.    
  • 47 Saint Nicholas Church (Никольская церковь), Zarechnaya Street, 8 (Kovda). A remarkable wooden church built in 1705, consisting of the church itself, a small bell tower, and a log fence. It is the only surviving church of this kind in the Murmansk Oblast, with a two-tiered gabled roof. The current church is built on top of the remains of a 15th century church, whereas the bell tower dates from the early 18th century. Since the mid-1990s extensive restoration work has been carried out, which led to controversy as it changed the appearance of the bell tower and interior, and accusations of historical inaccuracies. During the restoration works in 2004, a burial was discovered under the church containing wooden logs with bodies of children wrapped in birch bark. The burial likely predates the construction of the church and its purpose is unknown.  
 
Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, one of the finest examples of wooden architecture
  • 48 Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Успенская церковь), Varzuga, +7 (911) 3112747, . A 17th century religious complex, and one of the finest examples of wooden architecture. The 34 m tall Assumption Church is the tallest building of the complex, which was built without nails or screws, reportedly only using an axe and plane. The church was built according to the golden ratio principle, its base has a cross shape and an upper octagonal roof with a dome-cupola. The bells were lost in 1939 when they were removed and washed away on the banks of the river waiting for transportation. The icons suffered during the Soviet era, stored in unsuitable conditions, and were sent to the Hermitage restoration workshops. Ignoring religious value, the architectural value of the complex was recognised by Soviet architects, and a plan was set up to relocate the complex from Varzuga to the outskirts of Murmansk, however, that plan never materialised. Restoration started in 1999 and was finally completed in 2012. Free.  
  • 49 Khibinogorsky Monastery (Хибиногорский монастырь), Zheleznodorozhnaya 8, Kirovsk, +7 (81531) 5-71-18. The northernmost Orthodox female convent in the world, this monastery (also called The Khibinogorsk Convent in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God) was founded in 2005 around one of the few temples erected during the Soviet era, in 1946. It is a cultural heritage site of the Russian Federation.  
  • 50 Saints Boris and Gleb Church (Церковь Бориса и Глеба) (left bank of the Pasvik River). 15 May and 6 August. The church was built in the 16th century in an attempt to spread the Orthodox faith among the native Sami peoples. The first church was built in 1565, was erected in wood with a single dome, and a separate bell tower. Until the second half of the 19th century, most of the parishioners were Sami and Pomors, especially during the fishing season in summer. During the demarcation between Russia and Norway in 1826, the border ran through the Pasvik River, and the church thus found itself on Norwegian territory. A 1 km² exclave was created around the church, and that arrangement survives today. By 1870 the church was in dire need of renovation, and funds were allocated to construct a new building. It was consecrated in 1874, and visited by King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway. During the Second World War, the church was badly damaged and the older wooden church was burned to the ground in 1944. The church was rebuilt between 1982 and 1992, when consecration took place. Religious services take place twice a year, for the remainder of the year it is only accessible with a special permit because it is in the border exclusion zone. Free.  
  • 51 St. Athanasius of Alexandria Church (Афонасьевская церковь), Uspenskaya street, 21a, Varzuga. Historic wooden church built between 1878 and 1882, part of the Varzuga religious architectural complex. The church is a protected cultural monument of the Russian Federation. Free.  
  • 52 Varzuga Cemetery (Кладбище на правом берегу р. ВарзугиРедактировать), Uspenskaya street, Varzuga. 24/7. Historic cemetery dated to the 19th century with burials until the early 20th century. This Orthodox cemetery is characterised by a number wooden crosses, and a cultural heritage site. Free.  
  • 53 Kola Necropolis (Кольский некрополь), Kola. The oldest burial grounds on the Kola peninsula, dated to 1802, on Kamenny Island near Kola. It used to be the location of the Kola-Pechenga Monastery with a wooden church building, which was torn down in the 1930s. The cemetery remained in operation until 1971, and has since been preserved as an open air museum with 25 tombstones from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The necropolis gives a unique insight in the life of early settlers, with burials of town officials, philistines, merchants, and also many ordinary peasants. A new stone church building was erected at the entrance of the necropolis in 2001. It is open to the public since 2016 as a protected cultural heritage site. Free.  
  • 54 St. Nicholas Church (Церковь НикольскаяРедактировать), Nikolskaya street, 35, Varzuga. A Christan Orthodox wooden church built in 1705, and a designated architectural monument.  

Nature and Parks

 
Unspoiled nature of the UNESCO Lapland Biosphere Reserve.
  • 55 Lapland Biosphere Reserve (Лапландский заповедник), Zeleny 8, 184506 Monchegorsk, +7 (81536) 5-95-02, . A 2,784 km² national park, since 1985 designated as a UNESCO bio reserve. A relatively remote area 50 km west of Murmansk, the reserve covers a vast area of tundra and taiga in the western zone of the Khibiny Mountains, with Mount Ebruchorr (1115 m) the highest point. The southern parts are covered in pine and juniper trees, whereas the northern half is tree-less tundra. As a reserve, most of the park is closed to visitors to protect the fauna and flora, but there are a few designated routes for visitors that change with the seasons. Guided excursions for groups can be arranged through the park's main office in Monchegorsk.    
  • 56 Kuzomen Dunes (near Kuzomen). 24/7. The dunes cover an area of 1600 ha, and are a result of erosion processes of aeolian mineral deposits and marine sediments. The dunes are a consequence of deforestation in the middle 19th century, to make room for salt pans and grazing grounds. Under influence of wind, moving sands formed that covered surrounding forests and Kuzomen town itself. Because of its location in a depression, natural renewal of conifer coverage does not occur. Wind tends to pile up the sand in dunes, and the thickness of sand cover is 70 cm or more. By the end of the 20th century, the spreading of the sand was recognised as desertification and the Murmansk Oblast government initiated actions to stop further spreading. A comprehensive reforestation program was started, focusing on restoring soil by mixing the sand with imported peat. Planted grass, herbs, and trees along with spacial barriers reduce wind speeds and aim to stop the sand from spreading. The dunes are popular for outdoor sports, including mountain biking and rallies with jeeps and motorcycles. Free.  

Festivals

  • 1 Snow Village (Экскурсионно-туристический центр "Снежная Деревня"): 12 – 04 2021, Kirovsk (next to the Polar-Alpine Garden-Institute),  +7-921-510-000-6. December to April, 11:00—21:00. Annual snow and ice sculpture festival, covering an area of over 2,500 m² with structures, sculptures, and diverse artworks of dozens of national and international artists. The festival won numerous awards, including those for the largest snow sculpture in the Federation. One of the highlights is the Raging Saws contest, a breathtaking competition in which 10 masters in teams of 2 attempt to create the most spectacular sculpture in a time span of 90 minutes, using nothing but chainsaws and hand tools, in front of a live audience. The festival attracts interest from Norwegian, Finnish, and domestic visitors, which takes place in temperatures of —30°C during the long polar nights. 600 руб weekdays, 800 руб weekends and holidays, 300 руб for children. (date needs fixing)

Do

Winter sports

 
Skiing in Kirovsk

It won't be a surprise that the climate is perfect for winter sports. Skiing was not very popular during the Soviet era, but since the 1990s ski infrastructure has been developed, mostly concentrated around Kirovsk and Apatity in the Khibiny Mountains. The most prominent peak is the 6 Aikuaivenchorr (1075 m) near Kirovsk, with over 30 km of groomed ski runs on its slopes. The largest ski resorts, KolaSportLand and BigWood are on the north and west side of the mountain, respectively. There is also cross country ski infrastructure. Depending on the weather conditions, the resorts are usually open from November until May, but occasionally even until June. The first ski infrastructure outside the Khibiny mountains is 11 km north of Polyarnye Zori, where Salma Ski offers an afternoon of fun with 2 lifts and a handful of groomed slopes.

Name Email Altitude   /   /     /   /  
1 KolaSportLand Рейтинг@Mail.ru 390-852 m 7 Lifts: 0 / 1 / 6 30 km Pistes: 15 / 14 / 1
2 BigWood ski@bigwood.ru 380-1047 m 8 Lifts: 1 / 1 / 6 27 km Pistes: 14 / 9 / 5
3 Salma Ski salma-ski@yandex.ru 140 - 380 m 3 Lifts: 0 / 0 / 3 5 km Pistes: 2 / 2 / 1
4 Kumisvumchorr kukisvumchorr@list.ru 382 - 886 m 4 Lifts: 0 / 0 / 4 6 km Pistes: 2 / 2 / 2
5 Mount Sparrow   200 - 280 m 2 Lifts: 0 / 0 / 2 1 km Pistes: 0 / 0 / 1
  • 6 Regional Drama Theater (Мурманский областной драматический театр), Lenin Avenue 49, Murmansk, + 7 (8152) 520-522, . 15:00, 16:30, 19:00. Historic drama theatre founded in 1939, and became significant during the Second World War when it was known for its anti-fascist plays and propaganda just a few km from the front line of the advancing German Army. The theatre group moved to its current location on Lenin Avenue in 1963, but tours extensively through Northern Europe.  
  • 7 Ulybka Alyaski Husky Kennel (Улыбка Аляски) (Kolsky district, Murmansk region, 5th km of the Murmansk highway), +78152205808, . 09:00-20:00 daily. An opportunity for an up-close encounter with huskies and reindeer, learn about the animals, and be taken on a traditional husky sleigh ride through the snowy landscape of the Murmansk Oblast. Reservation required, also suitable for groups. Waiting times depend on the season and availability of dogs, visitors get served tea and snacks while waiting. Interacting and playing with the animals is encouraged, which the dogs absolutely seem to love.  
  • 8 Oceanarium (Мурманский океанариум), Heroes-Severomortsev Ave. 4, +7 (815-2) 43-26-71, . The Oceanarium started as a division of the Marine Biology Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The objective was to train marine mammals such as dolphins and seals to assist humans in marine operations such as maintenance of marine structures. The experience gained by training dolphins and seals culminated in the foundation of the Oceanarium, and by 1994 the first performances were given outdoors. Since 1996 the oceanarium has been indoors and received its first visitors. Because of financial difficulties, the Marine Biology Institute cut funding in 2006, and the project was forced to take on a more commercial stance. The oceanarium is the only complex in Europe where arctic seals are trained and perform, the most experienced performer is gray seal Filya, 32 years old. Adults 400 руб, children 300 руб, foreign tourists 600 руб.  

Eat

 
Coulibiac with salmon

The traditional cuisine of the Murmansk Oblast is based on fish and meat. Early settlers in coastal towns discovered recipes to prepare the cod, herring, catfish, flounder, halibut, polar trout and salmon they caught with local ingredients such as cloudberries. Smoking and pickling are also popular preservation techniques that have survived to the present. Fishing is still an important economic activity in coastal towns and you can be sure that the sea food is fresh. Cod steaks are considered the highest quality fish and served in every upscale restaurant, with ukha (fish soup) as a cheaper alternative often using less popular by-catches. Zubatka (catfish) is served on special occasions. Fish stews are also common, often served with rye bread as a hearty meal. Murmansk coulibiac are rye dough pasties filled with with salmon, cod, halibut, chopped eggs and aspen mushrooms. Aspen mushrooms are native to the region, and taste wise in the middle between porcini and shitake. Forshmak is a herring paté, very popular during the Soviet era, and served on toasted rye bread or topped with pike roe, garnished with fresh dill.

Stalin's Crabs

During the 1960s, Soviet marine biologists introduced the red king crab in the Kola Bay in an attempt to boost the fishing industry, as the crabs were seen as a high value catch and potential export product. Initial attempts to relocate crabs from their native habitat in Vladivostok failed, but eventually a colony was bred and released into the wild. The colony adapted surprisingly well to their ice-free new habitat in the Kola Bay, where they had few natural predators. The crabs multiplied rapidly and spread into the Barents Sea where they became and invasive species, then continued their conquest along the coastline until they reached Norway in 1977 where the Norwegians dubbed them Stalin's crabs. By the mid 1990s they had passed the North Cape, and are nowadays found as far south as Bergen. Despite their environmental impact and concerns of marine biologists, the crabs are seen as an economic asset by both Norway and Russia, and catching them is restricted by quota. Recreational king crab is allowed, at a maximum of 1 crab per person.

Scallops and crab are regarded as delicacies, and the red king crab is popular and expensive. Crab is served in salads and even combined with mashed potatoes. Shrimps are often served as appetisers and in salads with cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, various herbs, and the typical cream sauces. Fresh dill is very popular to garnish just about any sea food salad, and deep fried dill is served with grilled fish fillets.

 
Forshmak, a herring paté served on rye bread

It won't surprise that deer, including reindeer, have traditionally been the most important meat on the Kola peninsula, although since the second half of the 20th century pork and chicken have gained popularity as well. Wild boar stews are common in the southern regions of the Murmansk Oblast, where they thrive in pine forests, but they don't venture into the tundra. Moose and moose liver appears on menus in expensive restaurants and is considered a bit of an acquired taste. Chickens are bred locally in farms south of Murmansk and considerably cheaper than pork. Reindeer are farmed as well, and the menus of restaurants are often ambiguous as to whether the venison served is reindeer or wild deer. Just about any part find its way to the menu, popular are deer tongue and deer hearts, grilled or cooked tender, and served with pearl barley, spelt, or mashed potatoes. Upscale fast food restaurants occasionally serve elk burgers. Horseradish is a popular condiment. Venison is often served rare, with wild mushroom sauce or lingonberry or cloudberry jam. Cloudberries are considered exclusive, as they are not farmed but rather picked in the wild. Pelmeni is an originally Siberian dish prepared with different kinds of meat that is growing in popularity in the Murmansk Oblast. It is sometimes garnished with reindeer lichen, a type of lichen that grows almost everywhere in the Russian Arctic, and naturally has a bitter taste and mushroom-like smell. It is usually soaked in water for 3 days before being simmered in a saucepan with berries to soften and sweeten it.

Most fresh vegetables and fruits (aside from berries) are imported from Karelia or elsewhere in the Russian Federation, and can be surprisingly expensive. Many restaurants consider vegetables and unimportant part of a dish and little more than garnishment, and some menus don't bother listing them. Don't expect quality vegetarian food anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. Of the few vegetables that are available, root vegetables (beet root, carrots, celeriac) are the most popular.

Sweets are not originally part of the local cuisine so travellers with a sweet tooth won't be blown away by the desserts listed on restaurant menus. An exception is lingonberry cake, which is served almost everywhere with lingonberry coulis or chocolate sauce, and a few fresh lingonberries. More exclusive is cloudberry case with roasted pine nuts, a super food sustainably sourced from the vast pine forests in the region.

Drink

Mors is a traditional drink made of berries and widely popular. Although it can be made of any kind of berry, lingonberry mors is one of the best choices based on fresh local ingredients.

 
Birch sap being collected from a birch tree

The abundance of birch trees makes birch sap a widely available commodity. The sap is most commonly collected in early spring when it moves fastest, before any leaves appear on the tree. As soon as leaves appear, the sap quickly becomes bitter, so the harvest season is very short. The fresh sap is clear and has a slightly sweet flavour. After a few days, the sap starts to ferment naturally and takes on a more acidic taste. The sap is rich in antioxidants and nutritious. Because birch trees are less tolerant to tapping than maple trees, great care must be taken when harvesting the sap. When there is an abundance of sap, it is sometimes boiled to concentrate it and turned into a syrup (similar to maple syrup). Birch syrup is very expensive and used to sweeten cakes and desserts in the regional cuisine.

Vodka is the most widespread spirit in the Murmansk Oblast, and either juniper flavoured (resembling an English gin) or flavoured with any of the local berries -- cloudberries, lingonberries, blueberries are the most common. Lingonberries (sometimes called mountain cranberries or cow berries) are widely available and a popular flavouring for spirits and desserts in the region.

Learn

  • 7 Polytechnic Lyceum, Papanina 10, Murmansk. Originally a maritime lyceum founded in 1991, it was reorganised in 1996 and expanded its profile as a polytechnic institute. Its focus is currently on humanitarian, natural sciences, economics, and technology.  

Stay safe

International borders

The border between Norway and the Murmansk Oblast has historically been open to allow the Sami people and pomors to move freely between Norway and Russia. Rising tensions during the Cold War led to a militarisation of the border between Norway (a NATO member state) and the Soviet Union. The result was the creation of a border exclusion zone, between 1 and 5 km wide, and border crossings were not permitted. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Norway-Soviet border became a Norway-Russia border, and border formalities have somewhat relaxed. The exclusion zone remains however, and although the fence is not electrified, there are proximity sensors and cameras that notify border guards of unauthorised border crossings. The only legal border crossing between Norway and Russia is at 8 Storskog.

The border between Finland and the Murmansk Oblast is an even more sensitive issue because of the Winter War and Continuation War fought between Finland and the Soviet Union in the context of World War II. Although there have been no armed border clashes since the end of the Second World War, the border between Finland and the Russian Federation remains one of the largest exclusion zones in Europe. The border exclusion zone on the Finish side is 100 m - 3 km wide, and on the Russian side typically between 5 and 7.5 km (adjusted around settlements). To put that in perspective: the entire country of Liechtenstein would fit in this no man's land! Unlike the border between Norway and the Russian Federation which tends to follow geographical features such as rivers which makes accidental crossing difficult, the Finish-Russian border was drawn more arbitrarily and runs in straight lines through taiga. Both Finland and Russia have scheduled patrols of border forces to catch anyone illegally crossing the border, and getting caught in the border exclusion zone on either side results in a heavy fine or imprisonment, even if the border was not actually crossed.

As there are no tourist attractions near the international border between the Murmansk Oblast and its western neighbours, it's best to stay far away from it when planning out an itinerary. If you go hiking around towns like Kovdor or Zapolyarny, which are both within 10 km of resp. the Finish and Norwegian borders, make sure to take a satellite navigator along and keep an eye out for red-green striped concrete posts planted in the middle of the wilderness: these are border demarcation posts!

Photography

See also: Photography

The largely unspoiled nature, countless lakes and rivers, and rich wildlife are invitations to bring a good photo camera to document your journey. The strategic importance of the region leaves a large permanent military presence, not limited to the Northern Fleet of the Navy and its coastal support structures, but also airfields, depots for fuel and ammunition storage, and checkpoints controlling access to closed settlements.

No matter how cool it may be to try to snap a picture of a friend with one of the largest submarines ever built in the background, it's simply not worth the risk. If you get spotted, you are likely to be detained and questioned, and your photography equipment will confiscated. Officers are unlikely to speak anything but Russian, so talking yourself out of it will be difficult if not impossible. To avoid raising suspicion, put photo cameras away around sensitive facilities (which can be interpreted quite broadly). Leave lenses greater than 200 mm at home to avoid accusations of espionage.

Drones

See also: Drones

Flying drones is permitted in the Murmansk Oblast (as well as in the rest of the Russian Federation), with the exception of flying in proximity of military installations or over people's heads. Flying is permitted only during daylight hours in clear weather, and the pilot must maintain line of sight to the drone at all times. Drones with a weight less than 250 g can be operated freely, but those heavier require registration with the Murmansk Oblast Air Traffic Authority.

Wild animals

See also: Dangerous animals

Polar bears are extremely rare sightings on the Kola peninsula, and the most significant wildlife threat are brown bears which are common in the entire Murmansk Oblast. Despite their reputation, brown bears do not actually hunt humans and instead enjoy a vegetarian diet complemented with fish. Brown bears are rarely aggressive towards humans, with the notable exception of females protecting cubs: about 47% of bear attacks involve females with cubs. There are on average 18 brown bear attacks per year in Europe, most of which a result of leisure activities accidentally infringing bear territories. In periods of food scarcity, bears have been known to seek out human settlements to forage in trash. Brown bears will usually avoid confrontation, but their sheer size, weight, and power means that even the slightest physical contact will result in serious injuries or fatalities.

The largest predators (after polar bears) are wolves, however, despite their fearsome reputation in fairy tales, wolves attacking humans are an extremely rare occurrence. An encounter with wild wolves is more likely to be an exciting and memorable experience rather than a frightening one. Following their instinct, wolves target lone individuals separated from the herd, or those showing signs of weakness or illness. As long as you stay in a group, you have nothing to fear of wolves. Except for the most urbanised areas (Murmansk and its suburbs) wolves can be heard howling at night, and occasionally their glowing eyes can be seen in the darkness when wolf packs move around.

Crime

Violent robberies and organised crime are uncommon in the Murmansk Oblast, the most prevalent forms of crime in the region are theft and mugging. Crime rates exploded after dissolution of the Soviet Union, with a widening gap between crime rate and law enforcement response. The situation improved since the early 2010s, but rising unemployment (5.5% in Murmansk) and problems with drug abuse contribute to the spread of petty crime in urban areas. In smaller towns and villages, crime rates are low because the reality of the harsh climate forces people to work together to survive winters.

Widespread corruption exists in government agencies, law enforcement, politics, and to a lesser degree transport and healthcare. At the lowest level, police officers or border force officers may ask for bribes for safe passage. Permits and any other documents produced by the extensive bureaucratic machine can take weeks or months to process, often bribes can help to "grease the gears" and accelerate application processes.

Organised crime is responsible for large scale theft of public infrastructure, such as power transmission masts and even an entire railroad bridge near Kirovsk. These are not isolated cases, unfortunately, and scrappers are at work throughout the region to salvage scrap metal and other parts with resale value from Soviet era infrastructure. Although these activities are usually taking place in locations far away from places of interest to travellers, the results of these actions (i.e. failing infrastructure) can cause problems.

Stay healthy

Diseases

There is a relatively high prevalence of tuberculosis in the region, some of which has been found drug resistant. Travellers should consider getting a BCG jab before travelling to the Murmansk Oblast, keeping in mind that the vaccine is most effective for infants and children, and much less effective for adults.

Hepatitis A and B, as well as diphtheria and tetanus have become more common since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the resulting decline of the healthcare system in the region. Vaccines are readily available for these. Additionally, rabies is known to occur in wild animals, particularly foxes.

Another virus on the rise since the end of the Soviet era is HIV. The prevalence of the disease in the Murmansk Oblast is between 0.15% - 0.3% in the adult population, and propagates quickly among the younger generations because of a social stigma, a culture of unsafe sex (60%) and abuse of intravenous drugs (30%). Infection rates rose from less than 20 cases per year in the Soviet Union to an alarming 400 cases in 2016.

Medical care

Medical infrastructure in the region, such as hospitals and clinics, are suffering under decades of underfunding. Hospitals in larger cities such as Murmansk or Severomorsk are generally well staffed but their medical equipment is outdated. In smaller cities and towns such as Apatity or Umba, the available healthcare facilities are much more limited, and serious injuries will require transport to Murmansk. If road connections are not available, medical emergency transport is per Mi-8 helicopter.

Out in the expansive taiga in the eastern half of the Kola peninsula where almost no settlements exist, you'll be out on your own with the nearest doctor maybe 500 km or further away. In the unforgiving Arctic climate, minor inconveniences can quickly escalate into life-threatening emergencies, so come prepared. A satellite phone and satellite receiver for navigation are absolute minimum requirements.

Tap water

Not only healthcare but also public utilities have declined since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After 3 decades of unregulated industrial mismanagement combined with little or no investments in public infrastructure, tap water quality has deteriorated to the point it is no longer considered drinkable in most parts of the Murmansk Oblast, with exceptions in the larger urban areas (Murmansk etc.) but even there it is strongly chlorinated. In smaller towns, tap water is often polluted with heavy metals from the metallurgy industry in the region, such as copper and nickel. All surface water should be assumed contaminated, even if rivers and streams look clear and pristine. Local inhabitants avoid drinking tap water directly, and either boil it or pass it through active carbon filters.

The safest option is to drink bottled water which is widely available in 1L - 5L jugs pretty much everywhere.

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