Murmansk turns 101 years (and one day) old

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... Continue Reading →

Black sky and white Volga

Coming from the warmer climate of Italy, my native country, I am still very much fascinated by the frozen rivers of Russia. Especially the large and very large ones, like the Volga, which turn completely white in winter once they are covered in snow. If you've been reading this blog, you also know I am deeply intrigued by the possibility of visiting Russian cities and regions that were once completely off-limits to foreigners (and to most Russians, as well) under Soviet Union law. The picture above combines both of this element and maybe that is why it means a lot to me.

1.500 steps to the Volga

Originally the staircase, which is has over 1.500 steps, was simply "Volga Staircase" but it was soon renamed Chkalov Staircase, after the world-famous test pilot and hero of the Soviet Union Valery Chkalov, the first man to fly from Moscow, to Vancouver, Washington, in the United States via the North Pole on an Tupolev ANT-25 plane, a non-stop distance of 8,811 kilometres (5,475 mi).

The Arktika Train: Moscow to Murmansk

Today I want to present you the Artika train (Artic train), that takes you from Moscow to Murmansk, above the Artic Circle, and/or back. Murmansk is by far the largest city north of the Arctic Circle (with a population of around 300.000 people) and is a major port on the Arctic Ocean. It is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, close to Russia's borders with Norway.

Lenin – the first nuclear propulsion ship in history

Murmansk, Russia (above the Arctic Circle). There is a lot to see, but for a technology and history geek like me, one attraction is clearly the most special of all. I am talking about the 1957 icebreaker Lenin. Now a museum, it was both the world's first nuclear-powered surface ship and the first nuclear-powered civilian vessel, when it entered operation in 1959. Visiting the Lenin is a truly unique occasion to see what a state-of-the-art operational Soviet nuclear icebreaker looked like in 1989.

Truthful AND deceiving

There are a lot of things I like about this image. I shot it from the Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod, overlooking the frozen Volga.  The white expanse is actually the river, frozen and covered in snow. The little black dots on it are ice fishermen. They are a bit hard to see at this resolution, but... Continue Reading →

The lake that never freezes

About 200 kilometres (120 mi) north west of Moscow, in Tver Oblast you can find lake Udomlya (named like the nearby town), a lake that never completely freezes, not even when the temperature drops to -30 or below. The reason is simple, but interesting. On the shores of Lake Udomlya sits the Kalinin Nuclear Power Station, which uses... Continue Reading →

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