Zapolyarny (Russian: Заполярный) is town in the northern region of the Murmansk Oblast near the Norwegian border. It is best known for the Kola Superdeep Borehole, recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the deepest penetration in the Earth's crust.
Zapolyarny was founded in 1955 by geologists to set up mining operations on the nearby 1 Zhdanovskiy copper-nickel deposit discovered a decade earlier. Hence it lacks historic or architectural attractions and is a very industrial town with relatively little touristic appeal. The Kola Superdeep Borehole, perhaps the only noteworthy tourist attraction, is ca. 10 km west of the city.
One of the city's best kept secrets is that Elena Gagarina, daughter of legendary cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, was born here.
- 1 Kola Superdeep Borehole (Кольская сверхглубокая скважина). 24/7. The site of the deepest point on earth, where Soviet scientists drilled to a depth of about 12.26 km under the surface in 1989. There have been attempts to drill deeper, however at such depths the rock decreases in density, gets more porous, and behaves somewhat plastic, which made drilling impossible, and drilling operations were therefore stopped in 1992. The scientific research project was officially terminated in 1995 and the site abandoned, the buildings have since fallen in disrepair and some have collapsed. The borehole itself is welded shut, and the cover can easily be found in the rubble. There are no guided tours, but visitors with a scientific interest regularly take a look at this landmark of scientific achievement. Free.