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Siberian "Ghost" Cities Scare

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Siberian Nearly-Abandoned & "Ghost" Cities Could Be the Worst Halloween Scare Ever

We'd like to call them "ghost towns", but they are clearly not abandoned. Amazingly, people still live in them, go to work in the harshest possible conditions (paradoxically making it the richest and mightiest industrial area in Russia) and then come "home" to relax in inhuman weather, non-existing infrastructure, in dangerously dilapidated buildings...

Truly, this is an "abandoned, terrifying, ruined environment", multiplied to the N-th degree! Judge for yourself:

(Norilsk, Siberia - images credit: Schegloff)

Just in time for Halloween: no skeletons, witches, or giant spiders - instead, something real and more terrifying - witness the life in Cherepovetz City (the name loosely translates as "City of Skulls"), the center of the Russian North-West SeveroStal industrial zone:

(image credit: Elena Chinarina)

Welcome to Norilsk - the Very Definition of Cold Hell

Norilsk is a true "Wild East" Siberian town, the quintessence of tough living, tough conditions and tough-as-nails people.

(images via 1, 2)

The average life expectancy in Norilsk is 46-48 years... Here is why (this is not a complete list, by any means):

- minus 10 degrees Celsius is considered "warm weather"
- this city is built on permafrost, so buildings deteriorate quickly and most are in crumbling conditions
- the city was originally built by prisoners (untold numbers of them died), so it is very probably haunted... (no, of course not, just kidding)
- the industrial pollution is on par with the worst towns in China - it's officially one of the ten most polluted cities in the world
- there are no homeless people, because nobody can survive minus 56 degrees Celsius.
- they have literally 45 days of night - the depressing, miserable Arctic night
- the city often endures severe punishing winds, up to 25 meters per second

The ecology around Norilsk is so atrocious that trees can spontaneously ignite from industrial chemicals in the ground - and so only burned sticks are left:

(images credit: Schegloff)

The local forest:

The local grocery store:

People spend their lives (and murderously cold winters!) in these apartments -

(images via 1, 2)

Some apartments still stand, while others have already fallen apart, their basements plundered for concrete by locals to build garages and more shaky housing:

Santa Claus lives here?... I think not -

(image credit: Vladimir Maltsev)

Those on the bottom floors fare the worst during the brutal winter:

(images credit: Evgeny Bugaev)

Mysterious ruins:

(images via 1, 2)


This permafrost makes any building's foundation unstable, which presents huge problems for long-term construction. In time, some areas begin to look like an earthquake disaster zone:

(image via)

Note the broken pipe leaking poisonous gases (right image):

"Welcome to Norilsk" is written in bizarre block letters, indicating the harsh realities ahead. A visitor is also greeted by strange do-it-yourself SUVs:

When winter comes, people are shuttled to work in buses... but it gets even more surreal inside:

(images by V. Makushkin, via)

Missing the bus could be a life-threatening situation:

Help does not come quickly:

This statue of Lenin points to a bright future, and a gaudy billboard proclaims a "Peace to All Children on Earth", but... happiness is a rare commodity in this terrifying place. See more pictures of Norilsk on GoogleMaps here.

(images via 1, 2)

When the power lines fail, this town seems to become a perfect setting for a "30 Days of Night" movie sequel:

Leaving Norilsk, we finally encounter a pleasing sight: the picture of a beautiful girl on a billboard. Which only reminds us of another billboard - a travel destination from The Truman Show - another surreal town "of no escape"...

Kadykchan: The City of Broken Dreams (and a glorious Soviet past?)

Only 300 citizens remain in this city, once a powerful resource center and a thriving coal mining community. Here is how it looked during the Soviet times:

And here is how it looks today (most buildings were abandoned in 1983, but there are still people who live in this ghastly environment):

Approaching the city, the atmosphere of abandonment and decay is palpable:

(original unknown)





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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see any images???

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand... wikipedia doesn't seem to confirm this account, in particular it says there are 300,000 residents.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woah. Its like something out of Fallout.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

uhh yeah so this whole description is a complete lie, for one thing cherepovets has 100 time the people living in it. nice try tho, real spooooooky!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only population number they mentioned was for Kadykchan.

You realize that this article is about three different cities, right?

You read it before you started typing didn't u?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, they said Kadakchan has 300 residents and linked to the source. There are three towns shown in those pictures.

That having been said, major geography fail nonetheless. If living on permafrost and/or tundra and in places where it's dark all winter is horribly dangerous, I've been doing it wrong for years! The article makes it sound like this weather is something the Soviets created... unlike the pollution or terrible working conditions, which really are something no one would want to live with if they had better options.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try, liar!

Anonymous Will said...

Pretty awesome post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


fuck this

Anonymous Bronson said...

wow, these are creepily cool photos.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in Norilsk. The story about it here is almost a complete bullshit. It's really cold in there and ecology is quite bad, but the photos are taken from abandoned places and industrial areas. Same stuff could be posted about US if someone would go to bad areas of Detroit.

Blogger msspurlock said...

Anyone who believes it looked that good during the Soviet era is living in a dream world.

That image is so heavily airbrushed it's ridiculous.

Anonymous Exit32b said...

Russia!!! Hell Yeah.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in Norilsk. The story about it here is almost a complete bullshit. It's really cold in there and ecology is quite bad, but the photos are taken from abandoned places and industrial areas. Same stuff could be posted about US if someone would go to bad areas of Detroit."

fair enough, and I'll grant you that this quite likely won't make the Norilsk Travelers Guide, but none the less, I'm viewing it on Google Earth, and viewing the posted images there. It's a shiat whole, no matter how you rose color the viewfinder.

Anonymous vikki said...

i cant help but think of stalker and fallout! nice pics

Anonymous Clockwork Apple said...

Ive been to Norilsk and Siberian plains 2 years ago. It is nothing like on the pics (although it looks impressive :) There are some abandoned areas like in every industrial city and the pollution is indeed quite strong. However, you can not feel it in the air like in Beijing sometimes for example, so the whole thing is a bit exaggerated..
Shithole is a tin shed pavellas in Rio or a crackhouse in Laos! (both of which Ive seen) Norilsk is just a workers city with soviet era architecture build on permafrost. It is pretty harsh and ugly sometimes, takes time to adapt but definitely not a shithole..

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's looks like clouds over the mordor

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would Santa Claus live in Russia?
He lives in "Korvatunturi" in Finland.

Anonymous Sokobanja said...

Looks like Silent Hill. Very scary

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this is what the communists call a "workers paradise", I would hate to see what the alternative was. Remember that each of these "apartments" housed up to three families. The reason that life expectancy is 48 . . . . vodka - lots of vodka. I think I would also drink myself to death if this was my life.

Blogger Kristopher said...

The US has one similar town ... Whittier Alaska.

There is nothing shittier than a day in Whittier.

The town is an incredibly ugly conglomeration of government built housing set in one of the prettiest places in Alaska.

Only ways in or out are by sea or driving through the train tunnel to the port ... and they make you pay to leave through it. Heh.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That "poisonous gas" is steam from the district heating pipes.

Getting snow on the windows spoils the view but insulates well from the cold.

Anonymous BGE said...

Anonymous said...
"I was born in Norilsk. [...] Same stuff could be posted about US if someone would go to bad areas of Detroit."

Here are photos from the "dead city of Detroit"

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get Out Of Here, Stalker!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well it seems as pity/ forsaken environments, bt are there for sale?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These cities look a lot like some of the cities in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Alaska, haha.. Oh, except we don't even have buses where I live. So Siberia may just be more advanced than us!

OpenID fima-007 said...

comment from inside: those buildings and whole towns are created from 80-s and thru 90-s, which is from 'era of USSSR';in 90-s there a series of financial defaults and political of course do not help these small cities in remote regions to maitain Itself and pepole leave them and this not unusual.Worst climate conditions? Not bad than famous 'Chyrnobyl' in ukraine (radiation is not compare with ANY weather).Cherepovetz City, it's just a 'industrial city from 80-s' and you just try compare him with modern industrial towns(imho,the ufa is ALOT clean)
sorry for my english, it's not my default language(Guess, what my language native anyway^_^ )
btw welocome to my LJ - http://fima-007.livejournal.com/

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure people look on those photos with shock and horror. But folks, here in the West, we're not a world away from this scenario. America is bought and paid for by foreign interests, and many of us feel we have an incompetent clown/puppet in office instead of someone with some real balls. (shock horror: someone with an opinion, a racist, an extremist omg omg). What I am saying is, the American economy creates places like this..and the way things are going, it looks like this kind of thing is going to be the norm. To stem this demise they let countless illegals into the country, which only serves to perpetuate the problem and create even more extremes of poverty and hardship.

This may be the other side of the world, but it's not a world away in the real sense. Ask people who live in the US and UK, they will be able to tell of places similar to this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guys who say Norilsk is a shithole judging by a few pics, STFU. Whenever I read somebody call any city a shithole I cringe. Yeah, you can find shit on NYC for example, but you can also find so much good stuff. Same could probably be said about Norilsk. At least people don't shit there on the street like in Africa.

I also know people from Norilsk. Norilsk is a city of middle to upper class by Russian standards. unlike the rest of Russia, people in Norilsk are actually happy, open (at least to a point of being Russian permits them). So think all you want. a few pictures of broken buses and abandoned street don't prove shit.

Blogger Zemlyaki said...

In this collection the bottom photo - mine. This is a dead city "Kadykchan" - located in the "heart" of the former empire GULAG.
Here is a fresh photo - summer 2011: http://www.shintop.ru/phototrophy/user_photo.php?action=gallery&id=51

Here's another of those places something interesting: dead town "Petushki" - on the River Kolyma http://www.shintop.ru/phototrophy/user_photo.php?action=gallery&id=74

That's real uranium mine GULAG
"Lazo" near the village Sejmchan - http://www.shintop.ru/phototrophy/user_photo.php?action=gallery&id=53

Anonymous Sitthapromwas Phornsaran said...

This city looks much better than Detroit!


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