So many things happened in Russia on October 4th in the course of the centuries! I chose to dedicate yesterday’s post to the anniversary of Sputnik, Earth’s first artificial satellite, but yesterday also marked the 101st birthday of the city of Murmansk.
Murmansk was the very last city founded in the Russian Empire. In 1915, World War I needs led to the construction of the railroad from Petrozavodsk to an ice-free location on the Murman Coast in the Russian Arctic, to which Russia’s allies shipped military supplies. The terminus became known as the Murman station and soon boasted a port, a naval base, and an adjacent settlement with a population that quickly grew in size and soon surpassed the nearby towns of Alexandrovsk and Kola. On July 19, 1916, the railway settlement was granted urban status and the town was named Romanov-on-Murman (Russian: Рома́нов-на-Му́рмане, Romanov-na-Murmane), after the imperial Russian dynasty of Romanovs. On October 4 (in the documents it was written September 21, because an old calendar was still in use, but the date is equivalent to October 4th on the present-day calendar), 1916, the official ceremony was performed, and the date is now considered the official date of the city’s foundation. After the February Revolution of 1917, the town was given its present name.
Although Murmansk’s population is in decline (307,257 in 2010 – the most recent data I’ve been able to find – down from 468,039 recorded in the 1989 Census) it remains by far the largest city in the world north of the Arctic Circle and is a major port on the Arctic Ocean. During Soviet times Murmansk was a center of Soviet submarine, icebreaker and nuclear-powered icebreakers activity and it was therefor one of the “closed cities” where you had to have special permission or special orders to go. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the nearby city and naval base of Severomorsk remains the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet, but Russians and tourist alike can today freely visit the city of Murmanks.
In 1974, a massive 35.5-meter (116 ft) tall statue Alyosha, depicting a Russian World War II soldier, was installed on a 7-meter (23 ft) high foundation. You can see the statue in todays’ post feature picture. In 1984, the Hotel Arctic, now known as Azimut Hotel Murmansk, opened and became the tallest building in the world above the Arctic Circle.
Would you like to visit Murmansk or in general discover the Russia that foreigners rarely, if ever, get to see, with an English (and Italian, Spanish and French) speaking guide (me and my wife) showing you the sights and telling you a bit about Russian history and traditions? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!