Most of Murmansk Oblast is above the Arctic Circle on the Kola Peninsula It covers 144,900 square kilometers (55,900 square miles), is home to about 750,00 people and has a population density of only 5.5 people per square kilometer. About 93 percent of them live in urban areas, about half of them in the city of Murmank, which has a population of about of about 310,000.

Murmansk Oblast embraces both large stretches of tundra and hilly terrain. The Khibiny Mountains are the largest mountain range of the peninsula. The range is almost 400 million years old, and its highest point rises 1,200 meters above sea level. The Khibiny area is a popular place for skiing and snowboarding row. Website: Tourist Portal of Murmansk Region /

Murmansk Oblast is one of the best regions for watching the northern lights and enjoying the White Nights. You can see the northern lights when the conditions are right during much of the year with the exception of the White Nights when in some places the sun stays above the horizon all day and night, and shines even at 2:00am. During the depths of the polar nights, in the far northern reaches of Murmank Oblast, the sun is not visible for 40 days in a row and the whole day is either twilight or darkness. This is the best time to see the northern lights.

In the winter you can also take reindeer or dog sled rides in Murmansk Oblast. In the spring, orcas can be seen near the coast of the old Teriberka village. In the summer, people come for the fishing. The Kola Peninsula has many rivers and stream full of Atlantic salmon at that time of the year. If you have brave money, you can take an icebreaker cruise from Murmansk to the Arctic or travel to Hyperborea, the mysterious realm of the Titans. The Kandalaksha Nature Reserve, established to protect the population of common eider, is located in the Kandalaksha Gulf.

Safety guidelines: 1) In the mountains you should only ski on the slopes that have proper facilities: there is a risk of avalanches if you go off-piste. 2) Notify rescue services before heading off into the mountains, tundra, lakes or wetlands. 3) For boat trips and fishing tours only patronize from trusted operators; 4) salmon and crab poaching is a criminal offense. 5) Even in the summer, bring warm clothes, such as jackets or thermal underwear.

Northern European Russia

Northern European Russia is roughly defined as the area north of Moscow between Finland and the Baltic Sea in the west, the Arctic Ocean and its branches in the north and the Ural mountains in the east. The regions is mostly flat and dotted with lakes and marshes. The area’s far northern areas are covered by tundra. Further south are taiga forest.

Northern European Russia was first inhabited by reindeer herders like the Sami people (Lapps) and later by Novgorodian merchants and Swedes, who occupied the region for a long times. The Russians didn't completely lay claim to the area until Peter the Great drove the Swedes from the eastern Baltic. The area was largely ignored until its importance as a supply line was realized in World War I and World War II.

Most places of interest lie along three routes: 1) the semi-circular route through lake, rivers and canals between Moscow and St. Petersburg; 2) the north-south rail-road route between St. Petersburg and Murmansk; and 3) the north-south rail-road route between Moscow and Arkhangelsk

E105 is part of the International E-road network and one of the main roads in Europe. Begins in Kirkenes, Norway and follows the M18, M10 and M2 in Russia and the M18 in the Ukraine, ending in Yalta, Ukraine. Some cities on its route include Kirkenes, Murmansk, Kandalaksha, Saint Petersburg, Novgorod, Tver, Moscow, Kharikiv, Simferopol and Yalta. The road may be closed due to heavy snows or rains. Long delays may occur at the border crossing. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the road is closed to vehicles with a foreign registration

Kola Peninsula

The Kola Peninsula is 100,000-square-kilometer (30,900-square-mile) potato-shaped piece of land that juts into the Arctic Ocean and is bordered by the White Sea to the south and the Barents Sea to the north. Also known as Russian Lapland, it is covered by tundra, forest and low mountains. There is only one major city (Murmansk), one major highway (the road to Murmansk) and few scattered industrial and mining towns. Although it is above the Arctic Circle, the climate is warmer than might be expected because of the warming effect of the Gulf Stream.

The Kola Peninsula is about 370 kilometers (230 miles) long and 244 kilometers (151.6 mile) wide the highest elevation point is on Mount Chasnachorr (1,191 meters, 3,907 feet). The area has been traditionally occupied by Sami reindeer herders—who originally wandered freely between the Kola Peninsula and northern Scandinavia—and Russian trappers and fur traders known as Pomors. After the discovery of a northern sea route to the peninsula a tiny settlement was set up on the sea. The region was developed further with British help in the early 20th century and was used as supply port for lend-lease shipments in World War II.

In the Stalin era much of the coastline was declared off limited and rich mineral resources in the Khibiny mountains in the center of the peninsula were developed. The region become an important mining area and strategic military zone. Many gulags and a notorious dumping ground for nuclear waste were placed there. Two nuclear bombs were exploded above ground at the Knibiny mountains (the last in 1984).

The Kola Peninsula lies almost completely north of the Arctic Circle and has areas with endless low, wild mountains. The north is dominated by wide open tundra exposed to winds from all directions. Permafrost limits the growth of the trees resulting in landscape dominated by shrubs and grasses. The south is dominated by taiga forest and countless rivers and lakes in the south. Sometimes, there are snowfalls in July as well as heat waves hen temperature exceed 30 degrees C (90 degrees F). The normal summer temperature here is about +15°С and rarely raises higher than that, while the average winter temperature is around -10°С. The Gulf Stream leads to unusually high temperatures in the winter, but also results in high winds due to the temperature variations between land and the Barents Sea.

Many people who like the outdoors head to the Kola peninsula for hunting and fishing. There is good hiking and mountaineering in the 1000-meter-high granite Khibiny mountains. There is excellent cross country skiing almost anywhere accessible to skiers. Organized tours to the region can be worked out in Murmansk, St. Petersburg and Helsinki. Tours of a working nuclear power plant are offered at Polyarneye Zory.

The Kola Peninsula has been described as the most dangerous place on the planet. It has the greatest concentration of nuclear reactors (18 percent of the world's total, 182 in operation and 135 no longer used as of the early 2000s). Most of the reactors are on submarines and ships. Offshore is two thirds of all the radioactive material ever dumped in the seas. Item that have been dumped include 14 reactors (four with fuel); one disabled sub sunk, with fuel reactors; 17 other contaminated vessels sunk; and thousands of barrels of radioactive waste. In 1996 Bellona identified fifty-two decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines that were scheduled for scrapping but were still afloat near Murmansk with nuclear fuel on board; a timetable for dismantling them has fallen far behind.


There are about 2,000 Sami (Lapps) live on the Kola Peninsula of northwest Russia. Constituting the bulk of the territory of Murmansk Oblast, the Kola Peninsula lies almost completely to the north of the Arctic Circle and is bordered by the Barents Sea in the north and the White Sea in the east and southeast. The city of Murmansk is the most populous human settlement on the peninsula, with a population of over 300,000.

Despite the peninsula's northerly location, its proximity to the Gulf Stream leads to unusually high temperatures in winter, but also results in high winds due to the temperature variations between land and the Barents Sea. Summers are rather chilly, with the average July temperature of only 11 ̊C (52 ̊F). The peninsula is covered by taiga in the south and tundra in the north, where permafrost limits the growth of the trees resulting in landscape dominated by shrubs and grasses. The peninsula supports a small variety of mammals, and its rivers are an important habitat for the Atlantic salmon.

The Sami have been in the Kola peninsula for over a thousand years, long before the Russians arrived. By the end of the 19th century the Sami had been pushed to the far north of the peninsual by Russian settlers. In an attempt to collectivize the Sami in the Soviet era, the Sami were forced to move to urban areas and industrial farms.

Kola Bay

Kola Bay is a Japan-shaped body of water that penetrates southward from the Barents Sea 57 kilometers into the northwestern part of the Kola Peninsula. It is very narrow, only about four kilometers at its mouth. The city of Murmansk is Severomorsk is on the east side about halfway down. The bay is useful as it offers access to the Barents Sea but is protected from its harsh winds and weather

The depth of Kola Bay is 200 to 300 meters. The Tuloma and Kola Rivers discharge into the bay. The eastern shore is craggy and precipitous, the western one is comparatively level. The ports of Murmansk and Severomorsk sit on the east side. Polyarny, one of the largest bases of Russia's Northern Fleet, is on the west side of the bay.

Semidiurnal tides in the Murmansk Fjord are as high as four meters. In the winter, the southern part of the bay may be covered in ice. The Kola Bay Bridge spans the Kola Bay near its southern end. Due Gulf Stream Kola Bay generally does not freeze in the winter and when it does it is covered with a only thin ice .

Sami, the indigenous people of the Kola Peninsula, called the Kola Bay Kulvun, which loosely translated means "fish the bay." Cod, haddock, capelin, salmon, flounder and king crab all thrive in the bay. Some people in the region make a living from fishing. Many others are connected with the Russian navy.

Murmansk City

Murmansk (200 miles north of the Arctic Circle) is located exactly halfway between Moscow and the North Pole. It is ice free throughout the year thanks to warm waters brought northward by the Gulf Stream. This makes the city of great strategic importance. The only other major Russian ports that are ice free the entire year area on the Black Sea. Website: The official tourism portal of the Murmansk region /

Murmansk city was founded in 1916 when the 1,000-kilometer railway connecting it with the rest of Russia was being built. Until 1917 was called Romanov-on-Murman. The city was leveled by German bombers in World War II when the port was a receiving area for lend-lease supplies from the United States. The waters around Murmansk were crawling with German U-boats that sent many supply ships and their crew to an icy grave. In 1985, the Soviet government named Murmansk Hero-City “for the endurance, heroism, and courage demonstrated during the fierce battles by the defenders of the Fatherland.”

Today Murmansk is a city of 350,000 that lies in what has been described as the earth's most nuclear region. Among the vessels within my gaze," wrote journalist Mike Edwards during one visit, “parked here are nuclear icebreakers and nuclear cargo ships. About two hundred or so nuclear submarines are based in the area. There are also nuclear power plants and nuclear water dumping grounds.

The high temperatures are in the -20s and -10s C (0s and 10s F) in the winter and only the 0s and 10s C (30s and 40s F) in the summer. February and March are popular northern lights viewing times. Otherwise there isn't much to see or do. Most of the residents are Russians connected to shipping, fishing or the military. For some reason, maybe envy, one of Murmansk’s sister cities is Jacksonville, Florida.

Murmansk is in the permafrost zone, on a rocky east coast of the Kola Bay in the Barents Sea. The largest city in the world above the Arctic Circle, it stretches along the coastline for more than 10 kilometers. The entrance to the Barents Sea is in about 50 kilometers away from the city, which gives the access to the open ocean. The city is the base of the world’s largest and most powerful atomic icebreaking fleet, which provides the all-year-round navigation in the Arctic region. The geological exploration in the shelf area of Arctic seas is carried out from here.

Sights in Murmansk City

Among the sights and attractions in Murmansk city are St. Nicholas Church, built one the site of a clandestine wooden church that was kept hidden until 1985; the Museum of Regional Studies, with section on the Sami and Pmory and the Anglo-American occupation; the Murmansk Fine Arts Museum; Art Gallery; Polar Research Institute; Naval Museum; the Alyosha Monument; an amusement park on Lake Semyonovskoye, with the northernmost ferris wheel, and Lenin icebreaker, the predecessor of the Russian nuclear fleet, docked nearby Murmansk Marine Station. One of the largest statues in the town is of Anatoly Bedov, a hero who detonated a grenade while surrounded by a group of Nazis.

There are two seaports. one for trade; the other for fishing port. You can not enter the ports themselves without having a proper pass. However, the Sea Station, which is situated right between the ports, is open to visitors. From there you can have a view of the seaports” illuminated container cranes and ships. If you can get near the port and wander around there is a good chance you can see some atomic-powered icebreakers, submarines and a variety of military ships.

Murmansk Shipping Company arranges the cruises by the atomic icebreakers to the region of the North Pole each year in the summer. The Festivals of North are celebrated at the end of each winter at the ski stadium Valley of Comfort. They usually take place in March-April, when the polar day gradually replaces the polar night. The polar day begins in Murmansk at the end of May and lasts approximately until the middle of July. Sami (Lapp) handiworks made of reindeer skin and semiprecious stones are widely available. There is a n excellent municipal swimming pool with a 10-meter diving platform.

Accommodation: There are two large hotels in Murmansk — Azimut and Meridian. The third largest hotel in the city is the Park Inn by Radisson Poliarnie Zori. Additionally, if you are looking for something more affordable, there are hostels and smaller hotels (such as Yagel and Good Night).

Traveling Around and Getting to in Murmansk City

Transport: The public transport in Murmansk is reasonably developed. The easiest way to travel around the city is by bus, trolley and minibuses. The ticket price is the same for all of these modes of transportation, about to RUB 32 (about 50 US cents). Both smaller local taxi businesses and large nationwide taxi services (e.g. Yandex.Taxi) operate in the city. In addition, there are intercity buses, with the average ticket price of RUB 500. There is only one suburban train going from Murmansk, which is Murmansk — Apatity route. One way ticket for the train costs RUB 272.

Getting There: The easiest way to get to Murmansk is by plane. It can be a long haul by train. There aren’t really any buses. By Air: . There are two civil airports on the peninsula: the international Murmansk Airport in Murmashi and Khibiny Airport in Apatity. The average air ticket price from Moscow to Murmansk is RUB 5,000. RUB 7,000 if you are flying from St. Petersburg.

By Train: : There Kirov Railway runs for 1,500 kilometers from St. Petersburg to Murmansk. There are also connections from Moscow and other cities. Many tourists take this train to go skiing in Apatity and Kirovsk. The journey to Murmansk from St. Petersburg or Moscow takes longer than a day: to be more precise, it takes 26 and 39 hours respectively. A one-way couchette car ticket costs RUB 2,000, while a corridor coach ticket is RUB 5,000.

Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker Arctic Exhibition Center

The Lenin nuclear icebreaker (moored in Murmansk) is the world's first vessel with nuclear propulsion machinery. A unique piece of engineering and technology, and a symbol of the Russian presence in the Arctic, it is the only federal cultural heritage site in the city of Murmansk. The ship was built on the Leningrad Admiralty Shipyards in 1956-1959, with more than 500 enterprises and organizations from all over the U.S.S.R. taking part in her conception. In its 30 years of service the icebreaker has travelled through the Arctic ice a distance that exceeds the distance ofround-trip travel between the earth and moon.

The nuclear icebreaker was decommissioned in 1989. On the May 5, 2009, she was towed to the center of the port city of Murmansk, to a location near the ship terminal, and converted into a modern exhibition and museum center that has quickly become one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Kola Peninsula.

The sightseeing tour includes the visit to the main cabin with its music and smoking rooms; the crew dining cabin; the turbine dynamo compartment; the nuclear propulsion plant control center; the medical unit with a tour of the operating room, the lab, X-ray and dentist rooms; the control and repairs station that offers a view of the upper parts of the nuclear reactors through its sighting ports; a typical officer's cabin on the boat deck; the Captain's wardroom; and the navigation bridge, where the guests are welcome to examine the pilot room as well as the radio and the navigation rooms. The facilities of the Communist Party Committee, the pantry, and a standard seaman's double cabin on the berth deck are being prepared for exhibition.

The duration of the sightseeing tour is 55 minutes, and visitors must be accompanied by a tour guide. Amateur photography and video recording are permitted without any extra fees. The arctic exhibition center is always open on public holidays.

The “Lenin” nuclear icebreaker is the home of the Nuclear Energy Information Center as well as the multimedia exhibition “Atom and the Arctic”, which tells the story of the nuclear icebreaker fleet, the development of the northern sea route, the climate, ecology, and biological diversity of the Arctic region, as well as the scientific and technological progress made in ice navigation and nuclear marine propulsion.

Near Murmansk

Other Towns in the Murmansk area include Apatity, the second largest city on the Kola peninsula built around the world's largest deposit of apatity ore (used to make fertilizer); Korivsk, the main ski resort in the Russian northwest, with steep trails on low mountains; and Kandalkska, the home of an important aluminum processing plant and a sea-bird sanctuary with over 250 different kinds of bird. Murmansk Shipping Company arranges the cruises by the atomic icebreakers to the region of the North Pole each year in the summer. In the winter dog sledding tours are offered in the tundra outside the city. One can visit Sami settlements.

Severomorsk (10 kilometers north of Murmansk) is the home of Russia’s Norther Fleet heaquarters. Visitors can tour the K-21 submarine, the Admiral Khimov cruiser and visit the Military Aircraft Museum in Safonovo. Mongchegorsk (65 kilometers south of Murmansk) is the home of a huge nickel processing plant that transformed the countryside around it into an industrial wasteland

Teriberka: the Village of the Film Leviathan (100 kilometers west of Murmansk) is an old village situated on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, where boat frames can be seen lying in the water and the streets loop around the ruins of derelict houses. The town was used to make the much-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film “Leviathan” (2014) by Andrey Zvyagintsev'. Natural sights include a seashore covered with large smooth boulders known as “dragon eggs”, littoral zones (natural pools of sea water), waterfalls and steep cliffs. Visitors can fish, take boat trips, hike and birdwatch. After the release of Leviathan, several hotels opened in the vicinity, such as Kovcheg 51 Guest House that looks like a huge barrel. In the summer, many visitors come with their own tents, which they set up at the seashore. You can also stay with locals. On average, a night at the hotel is RUB 1,000-2,000, while staying with the villagers costs from RUB 500 to RUB 800.

Lappland Nature Reserve

Lappland Nature Reserve (80 kilometers southwest of Murmansk) is vast uninhabited region with some of the largest reindeer herds on Europe. About half of the park is tundra. The other half is grasslands, swamps and lakes. Some 40 species of animal, 180 species of bird and 800 spieces of plants can be seen here.

Lapland Reserve was established to preserve the northern boreal forest, mountain tundra of the Kola Peninsula and the protection of the wild reindeer. It has been designated a UNESCO a biosphere reserve. The reserve holds regular themed tours: every year from June to October such as walking along the ecological path "Elnyun-II”, where you can see changing vegetation zones, "mutton foreheads" and old-growth forests. The trail is equipped with decks, signposts, information boards and a gazebo for relaxing.

There are hiking, snowmobile, cross-country-skiing and snowshoeing trails and huts set up for overnight travelers. Access to the park is limited to small groups and arrangements have to be made in advance. The official tourism portal of the Murmansk region / In late November, the Lapland Reserve invites guests to celebrate the birthday of Father Frost, which involves walking on trail across Elyavruay stream, and playing games and participating in the workshop of Santa Claus. On New Year's Eve you can visit a farmstead in the winter woods, accompanied by fairy-tale characters. From March to April, visitors can take part in the"Spring Awakening of nature" tour. In May, tours "Pending the summer" and mushroom hunting tours. -

Khibiny Mountains

Khibiny Massif (near Apatity and Kirovsk, 130 kilometers south of Murmansk) is one of the two main mountain ranges of the Kola Peninsula. Located above the Arctic Circle, between Imandra and Umbozero lakes, the range contains the highest mountains of the Kola Peninsula. It is rich in minerals — particularly mainly apatite, used to make phosphate-based fertilizers, and nepheline ores — due in part to the removal of a layer of soil during the last ice age.

The Khibiny Massif is of oval shaped and covers about 1,300 square kilometers The mountains are not particularly high; the two highest peaks are the Yudychvumchorr, which stands 1,201 meters (3,940 ft), and the Chasnachorr, which stands 1,191 meters (3,907 ft). The average elevation is 1,116 meters (3,661 ft). The Khibiny mountain range has plateau-like peaks, steep slopes, and deep gorges The peaks are glaciers, icefields and snowfields in some places. The overall terrain is alpine tundra. It is the first place in the Russian Arctic to be outfit with a proper system of hiking trails — for both mellow hikers and climbers. The peculiarities of the local climate often create extreme conditions for climbing.

Khibiny mountains are mostly uninhabited, except where mining takes place. The cities of Apatity and Kirovsk are situated at the foot of the massif. The ski areas as Bolshoi Vudyavr, Kukisvumchorr and Kolasportland, as well as the Vorobyinaya Mountain, are accessible from here. There also places to hike and even dive — in a mountain lake. When hiking in the Khibiny in all seasons, it is important to monitor weather conditions. Avoid ascending in the fog, wear appropriate shoes, and have warm clothes and ample supplies of food.


Kirovsk (130 kilometers south of Murmansk) is one of the main the winter sports centers in Murmansk Oblast. The Bolshoi Vudyavr Ski Resort is nearby. The Museum and Exhibition Center of JSC Apatit is one of the main sights in the town. Located in former firehouse with a clock tower, it has exhibits on local history, ecology and nature. The museum has a rich collection of minerals from all over the world, and a special part reserved for minerals found on the Kola Peninsula. While in Kirovsk, you should also stop by the Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden, a tropical oasis among the northern cold: here you will find palm trees, coffee shrubs and rare exotic plants. There arealso museums and nightclubs and other entertainment opportunities.

From Kirovsk you can reach the Khibiny ski resorts. The Khibiny mountains offers wonderful scenery and mountain lakes that are popular for picnics. This area is one of the few northern regions of Russia with developed of hiking, cross-country skiing, and boating, as well as downhill skiing.

Snow Village is built every winter at the foot of Yuksporr Mountain. Here, everything is made of snow and ice: halls, corridors, rooms, galleries, furniture, sculptures, and slides. The villages opens its doors for visitors on New Year's Eve and recognized as the largest snow village in Russia. The Snegoled International Festival of Snow and Ice Sculpture is held in late January.

Accommodation: There are many hotels of categories in Kirovsk. You can also stay in Apatity, the distance between the two towns can be covered in less than half and hour. In the winter, it is best to book your room in advance, since there are a lot of visitors at this time of year. The town's most popular hotels include Ekkos, Tirvas, Pik, Severnaya and Powder Apart-Hotel. You can find more information at

Bolshoi Vudyavr Ski Resort

Bolshoi Vudyavr Ski Resort(near Kirovsk) is a modern ski and tourist complex. The ski trails start atop Aikuaivenchorr mountain, at an altitude of 1,060 meters above sea level. Two lines of modern T-bar lifts 1,750 and 1,150 meters in length carry skiers and snowboarders to the top. They can carry up to 900 people per hour. In 2009, a 1,800-meter ski lift was launched. In 2013, two more lifts were added: a four-seated chairlift 1,066 meters in length and a T-bar lift 551 meters in length.

The total vertical drop at Big Wood is 550 meters. There are slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels: a training slope with a lift; wide slopes with 40 percent grades for fun carving; a snow park for freestyle and new school; as well as two wide couloirs with incredible slopes for expert skiers.

In November 2014, a new gondola was inaugurated to bring winter sports fans directly from Kirovsk to the Big Wood complex. It is designed for 36 cabins and 36 seats, and in total it can carry up to 2,400 people per hour. The same year, an illuminated trail for skiers and a service center, including equipment rental store, a judges room, and a recreation room, appeared on the northern slope.

Mining Sights in the Kivorsk, Khibiny Mountains Area

East Mine (near Apatity, 130 kilometers south of Murmansk) (near Apatity) mines apatite, the raw mineral used in the production of phosphorus mineral fertilizers. Located in the southeastern part of the Khibiny massif and founded in 1978, it is the youngest mine operated by JSC "Apatit". The mine consists of two open pits: Koashvinsky quarry commissioned in 1981. Norkpahksky careers opened in 1983. Work is carried out in difficult geological conditions: the complex structure of the ore deposit, the presence of moraine cover, large water production in the quarry, avalanche slopes.

FosAgro training center organizes visits to a number of production facilities of JSC "Apatit". The most notable among these is the East Mine. During the visit, mine visitors can check out the mining process and look at the mine from the observation deck. Each visitor is required to undergo induction training on occupational safety associated with the specifics of the structural unit, which he attends. Customers are provided with special clothing and footwear, as well as personal protective equipment used for the production. Employees of relevant departments serve as guides. To visit you must apply no later than five working days in days. A group of 5 to 20 people in necessary for conduct a tour. Check the official tourism portal of the Murmansk region / www.murmantourism.r

Rasvumchorrsky Mine (near Apatity) also extracts raw materials for fertilizer production and offers tours and has an observation deck. The mine opened in August 1954 and has produced more than 600 million tons of From the observation platform you can check out the 3.5-kilometer-long and 590-meter-deep open-pit mine.Visitors receive special training and to wear special clothing and shoes. Guided tours are accompanied by guides. To visit you must apply no later than five working days in advance and have at least people to form a tour.

Kirovsky Mine Area: Where Nuclear Bombs Were Used to Mine Ore

Kirovsky Mine (near Kirovk and Apatity, 130 kilometers south of Murmansk) is another mine that extracts raw materials for fertilizer production and offers tours except this one is an area where nuclear explosions were tested as a means of extracting ore. Alexey Pavlov wrote in for :” he Khibiny are home to largest deposits of rare ores. The main of them is apatite – a mineral used to make fertilisers. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet government decided to detonate nuclear weapons in the mountains in order to boost apatite production. This was considered one of the “peaceful” uses of nuclear energy.” [Source:, by Alexey Pavlov, translated by Maria Kaminskaya]

“One of the first locations to undergo these “peaceful” nuclear explosions was a place some 30 kilometers away from the city of Kirovsk, which is situated at the foot of the Khibiny range. Nuclear charges were deposited in 1,500-meter-deep wells drilled in the core of one of the mountains, called Kuelporr. The first nuclear explosion was conducted in September 1972, followed by another in 1984. The operations were called Dnieper-1 and Dnieper-2, respectively, and were carried out in utmost secrecy. The explosions were powerful enough to pulverise the ore into fine granules and dust – thus sparing the country additional expenditures required for ore grinding.

“The explosions, however, proved to be of little use: The extracted ore still remains at the site because the area still has no roads to transport it to a processing plant. The government’s plan simply had not provided for road construction before the decision to conduct the nuclear blasts was made.

Kirov mine s located in one of the oldest and largest mine above the Arctic Circle. It was founded in 1929 and contains more than 300 kilometers of mining tunnels. Visitors receive special training and to wear special clothing and shoes. Guided visits to underground training ground and school are accompanied by guides. To visit you must apply no later than five working days in advance and have at least people to form a tour. The official tourism portal of the Murmansk region /

Sami-Related Places in the Lovozero Area

Museum of History, Culture and Life of Kola Sami (in Lovozero, 120 kilometers south of Murmank) was created in 1962 by high school geography teacher Paul Lovozersky to preserve the history and culture of the Sami people. Located in the building of the former House of Culture of the Lovozero, the museum covers about 500 square meters and has 320.5 square meters of exhibition space organized into topics such as "Ancient History of the Sami People", "Development of the Lovozero Region in 1920 - 1930s", "Rear - Front. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 "," the Economic and Cultural Development of the Region in the 1950-1980s "," Development of Reindeer - Traditional Sami Industries Economy " and " Gen: Small Peoples of the Kola Peninsula. "

The exhibition features 665 items, including stone with petroglyphs dating I millennium B.C., vezhi (ancient home of the Saami), wooden Sami houses of the late 19th - early 20th centuries) a variety of reindeer-related items, Sami applied art of the late 19th - early 20th centuries and a gákti (a 20th century reindeer camp). The museum also hosts exhibitions for Sami artists, writers and masters of arts and crafts, as well as events dedicated to the life of other small northern peoples of the Kola North such as the Komi and Nenets.

Sapmi Tundra Park (central Kola Peninsula) is an open-air park whose name means "Traditions of Sami". It covers all the most important and interesting aspects of Sami life. The park features house-tents, lined inside with reindeer. Park hostess tells visitors about Sami culture and traditions. Sami shaman ceremonies are sometimes held. At the park you can reindeer feed on moss and try Sami herbal tea and cake with cranberries. Tundra Park is located in the central part of the Kola Peninsula, on the banks of a river. There is a shuttle service.

Sam'-syit Saami Village

Sam'-syit Saami Village (near Lovozero,120 kilometers south of Murmank) is a place for preserving the traditions of the Saami people (Lapps, Laplanders), the indigenous inhabitants of Murmansk Oblast who live in the Kola Peninsula and northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Sam"-Syit means as “the village of the Saami people”.

This open-air ethnographic museum introduces you to the traditional way of life of the Saami people living in the center of the Kola Peninsula. The local Saami community arranges tours to a Saami village every year. The Saami talk about their history and their way of life. At the ethnographic museum in the Petroglyps national cafe you can taste Saami cuisine — “lim”, salmon soup, and “vyar” venison with potatoes; “pakula” national herbal tea, local “Lovozersky” bread, and other dishes.

The Saami have always believed in spirits and worshiped local gods. The tour touches on these aspects of Sami culture and discuss how every god has its own purpose — love, happiness, luck, fortune, health. According to local beliefs they can make wishes come true and keep trubles away.

During the tour to the Saami village you can see foxes, Arctic foxes, and rabbits. You can pet and feed reindeer and take part in traditional Saami sports such as “Pole War” (a tug-of-war using a pole instead of a rope) and “Deers and wolves”. You can check out their blue-eyed husky dogs, and try on traditional Saami clothes. museum pieces and collections.

Lake Seydozero

Lake Seydozero (near Lovozero, 150 kilometers southeast of Murmansk) is a sacred place for Sámi people. It is easy to get lost here, if you are going unprepared. On the other hand, you can find peace of mind and make a wish on the shore. On a cliff by the lake there is an image of Kuyva, the evil giant who was struck by gods with fire and lightning as punishment for his atrocities. The giant’s body is said to have left an imprint on the cliff, becoming one of the biggest scientific mysteries.

Seydyavvr Reserve is famous for unique landscapes, historical and cultural heritage associated with the Sami people. The name of the lake comes from the word “seid” — the sacred object of Sami people, which can be a special place (a standing out rock, a noticeable stone, a stump,a lake) or stone structures. Seidozero is a sacred place for Saami people. Seidozero is located at an altitude of 189 meters above sea level. Its length is 8 kilometers, the width varies from 1.5 to 2.5 kilometers. The river Elmorajok flows into the lake, and the Seydyavrhoik river flows into the Lovozero lake.

The lake is very deep, and the water in it is very cold. The territory has been actively studied since the 1920s. Since then disputes between scientists about the origin of the objects located here have not ceased: some consider them the remains of an ancient civilization — Hyperborea, others — the creations of nature. A large number of Saami legend are associated with Seidozero. One of them says that in ancient times, robbers “chudins” came here. The Saami were peaceful people, however, they decided to give a rebuff to the strangers. Among the foreigners was a powerful Kuiva sorcerer,when he waved his hand,ten people would be dead. However, the Saami coped and drove the sorcerer to a standstill. So he froze on the rock hanging over the Seidozero.

Getting There: The easiest way to get to the lake is to contact a travel agency, where you will be provided transport and a guide. Alternatively, if you decide to go by yourself, you will first need to get to Olenegorsk or Lovozero, and then to the village of Revda. From there, you will be able to get to Seydozero by car or on foot.

Kanozero Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs of the Lake Kanozero (230 kilometers south of Murmansk) are one of the most ancient traces of man on the Kola Peninsula. The 1200 rock cravings on Kamennyi island, dated the 4th or 5th millennium B.C., were discovered by employees of the Revda folklore museum in 1997 during rafting along the Umba river.

The rock drawings are located on three islands and on a coastal rock formation, but are most numerous on Kamennyi island. The images depict people (anthropomorphs), animals like elk, deer, cetaceans, fish, snakes, beavers, bears, otters, birds, and other objects: boats, crosses, wheels, wand axes, traces of feet, traces of animals and even skis. There are also scenes from family life: love, family, a love triangle, a pregnant woman, a man with a spear, spiritual symbols like cross, wheel, and hunting scenes.

In January 2008, the museum “Petroglyphs of the Kanozero” was established. Its mission is to secure the protection, study and promote the archaeological monument of the rock carvings complex “Petroglyphs of the Kanozero”, as well as other historical places in the Tersky district,

Mysterious Stone Babylons and Labyrinths of Kandalaksha Bay

Stone Labyrinth "Babylon" (200 kilometers south of Murmansk) refers a an ancient construction made of medium-sized stones, which are laid out in an intricate patterns of spirals directly on the shore of Kandalaksha Bay. Who created them and why is unknown. Stone spirals can be found in several places of the Kola Peninsula. Suschestvuyut hypothesized they were related to fishing witchcraft and ritual dances. It has also been hypothesized that labyrinth arrangement in places of burial to the dead where put there because spirals did not disturb the living. The word Babylon is a referrence to spiral construction of biblical Tower of Babel. Finding the labyrinth is difficult without a guide.

Yelena Bozhkova wrote in Russia Beyond: “In early October 2014 the Kosmopoisk research expedition on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia, an area with five stone labyrinths, came to an end. Some of these archeological monuments date back to 2,000 B.C.,... Traditional science links the labyrinths to northern peoples' religious outlooks. However, one of Russia's most well known researchers of anomalous phenomena, Vadim Chernobrov, the director of Kosmopoisk, is convinced that the stone patterns served as landmarks for ancient mariners. [Source: Yelena Bozhkova, Russia Beyond, October 21 2014]

“The most famous labyrinth above Russia's polar circle can be reached by foot from the little town of Kandalakshi in the southern part of the Kola Peninsula, about 800 miles from Moscow. The path goes through a pine forest, with volunteers from a local ecological organization putting up signs so tourists do not get lost. The ancient builders chose a perfectly round peninsula for the labyrinths. The stone roads are now almost completely covered with grass and moss. There is a plaque declaring that the archeological monument dates back to 2,000 B.C., the only reminder of the site’s place in antiquity.

“These types of labyrinths, or Babylons, as scientists call them, are also found on the coasts of the White Sea and the Barents Sea, in Scandinavian countries and on the British islands. It is still not clear why they were built and scientists are divided on the issue. Some think that the labyrinths were used in shamanistic rituals, while others are convinced of Babylons' utilitarian nature: they could have been traps for fish or orientation points for seafarers. "The sailors had to place marks on safe plots of land," says Chernobrov. "And it was even more important to indicate the place where they could push out from the coast towards the open sea. In antiquity, fearing storms, mariners tried to navigate along the coast, but in many places it made sense to shorten the route through straits, gulfs and the open sea. The labyrinths were points of a guiding thread, leading the navigators along the coast.

“Most scientists believe that the Babylons were used by ancient peoples for religious rituals, such as when appealing to deities for an abundance of fish. The round patterns could have been guides into the kingdom of the dead or for detaining the soul of a deceased person so that it could not enter the world of the living.” Some researchers believe they were fish traps. “Since the Babylons were built next to the sea in places abundant with fish, they could have been used as traps. The fish could have been brought into the confused patterns with the flow of the tide and then might not have been able to find their way back as the water ebbed.

“Another debatable question is the date of the labyrinths. Scientists in the middle of the 20th century estimated them to be 4,000 years old. Contemporary researchers, however, say that the stone patterns are much younger. They determine their age by the height of the lichen growing inside the labyrinths.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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