Difference between revisions of "Barentsburg"
Revision as of 07:23, 16 August 2007
Barentsburg (Баренцбург) is the only remaining Russian settlement in Svalbard.
Barentsburg is named after Dutch explorer Willem Barentz, who (re)discovered Svalbard in 1596. The Russian-owned Arcticugol Trust has been mining coal here since 1932, and during the Cold War Barentsburg was a veritable hotbed of activity as the Russians attempted to expand their zone of control over the islands. After Pyramiden was closed in 1996, Barentsburg has been the only Russian settlement still operating, with some 700 inhabitants as of September 2005 and some 300,000 tons of coal exported yearly.
Orienting yourself in Barentsburg is easy enough. It's some 220 steps up the stairs from the dock to the settlement, where more or less everything is along the main street, ulitsa Ivana Starostina.
Barentsburg does not have its own airport, but chartered helicopter transfers (15 min) can be arranged from Longyearbyen if you're really in a hurry.
There are no roads to Barentsburg, and it's about three days solid hiking from Longyearbyen to Barentsburg on foot in the summer. In winter, travel by snowmobile is a more popular option and day trips are offered by tour operators in Longyearbyen — it's a fantastic ride and well recommended.
Barentsburg is easily covered on foot.
Day-tripping tourists get about 2 hours to see the sights, and for most this is plenty.
The Norwegian currency kroner are used in Barentsburg and prices for touristy activities are adjusted to Norwegian levels.
Locals eat cabbage soup in their canteen for free, but tourists will normally be limited to meals at the hotel (30-70 kr).
The hotel's bar serves up Russian vodka, cognac and champagne.
There is precisely one public accommodation option.
The Barentsburg Hotel has a post office for sending mail. It's a branch of the Longyearbyen post office and thus uses Norwegian stamps (and Norwegian prices), but they do have their own postmark.
There is a small Russian consulate on Barentsburg, which could theoretically issue you a Russian visa. (Don't count on it though, certainly not without checking ahead.)