Murmansk, Russia: Part Two “The Aura of Industrialization”

There is no possible way I can actually describe our visit to Murmansk during the city’s darkest days – as Sean and I said, it is something that just has to be experienced.  You can look at my photographs but, for me, the photos don’t do the city justice.  The feeling we experienced in Murmansk was really strange.  Beginning with a 27 hour train ride that transports you into the northern most regions of inhabited land, you begin to feel a sense of “nowhere” and of coldness and darkness….. and then you reach the outskirts of Murmansk.  When we first began approaching the city, my eyes were bulging out of my head as I stared at the edges of industrial wasteland that led to this glowing port city.  Once in the city center, there is an aura of life – but not life lived by the people….. its industrial machine life.  Glowing lights, black smoke (the air-quality was really terrible!), ships, fishing boats and gasoline tanks – right away, all I could think to myself was, “you are in an industrial wonderland, Lindsay!”  It was quite breathtaking – being in the arctic circle surrounded by mountains, snow and experiencing the strongest source of light via the aura of industrialization.  Shortly after arriving, we began to notice the sound of cranes constantly moving and the regular sound of a muffled voice shouting out commands to the workers in the port.  When you paired all of this industrial light and sound with the giant hillside covered in Soviet-style apartment buildings and the giant “Мурманск-Город-Герой” (Murmansk-Hero-City) standing at the forefront, you began to feel like you were in a most surreal place.  I told Sean, if ever I felt like I was part of the book 1984, this was it.  It wasn’t that the people were strange – it was a completely normal Russian city on that note – it was just the feeling you got when experiencing minimal daylight, industrial glow, the soldier on the mountain watching over the city, the commanding voice and the sound of cranes – that left you feeling like you were in some sort of alternative universe.  As I mentioned, it is something that can only be experienced to be truly understood.  Because I took so many pictures, I will make yet another post following this one, otherwise it might be overwhelming to look through the nearly 50 photos I really want to show of the city.  This first post will be photos of our first and last impressions – being our early afternoon walk as the light of day finally made it’s appearance around 1 p.m.  The second post will be from our mountain hike to the overseeing soldier, shortly before daylight dwindled at 4 p.m.  Somewhere in between the two hikes up the hills, we had to change shoes and socks because our feet were frozen.

“Murmansk Hero-City” (Murmansk is one of the twelve former Soviet Union’s hero-cities; I’ve now been to four of them).

The glowing lights of evening – as viewed from our apartment window.

Rotting balconies.

Apartments on the hillside.

more apartments.

the green door I had to take a picture of.

Roadsigns – Watch for Children!

The glowing red ship.

The mountainside.

Sean in awe of the city view.

The Panorama Restaurant.

The Church on the Hill.

Another of the Panorama Restaurant.

Me jumping in front of the Church on the Hill.

Daisies on buildings.

and Tulips on buildings.

what other city would make a New Year’s tree from an unused crane arm?

The Murmansk seal, right next to the Meridian Hotel.

The Statue of Lenin – this was the day we left Murmansk, around 11:30 a.m.

The New Year’s Tree in city center – notice the glow off to the right…… another morning shot.

Although it’s hard to see from far away, it’s the “Murmansk-Hero-City” sign in the distance.

12 thoughts on “Murmansk, Russia: Part Two “The Aura of Industrialization”

  1. You took really wonderful pictures in Murmansk. I loved all of your three posts on this town, where I myself am going for a mini photo reportage in one month. My pictures will mainly be black and white, but whatever I choose for my photos it’s going to be hard to “beat” your fantastic shots 🙂

    • Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy your time in Murmansk – it is one of my favorite Russian memories from the year I spent there. Really cool city and very surreal. P.S. There is a great Ukrainian/Russian restaurant on the street we stayed on – can’t remember the name, but it’s the only one on Октябрьская.

  2. Hi Lindsay

    I am looking to go into the profession that is very similar to what you do in this blog. Could you tell me more about what you do? Is this your career, or just something you decided to do one day?

    Also, do you speak Russian, or any other language?

    • Hello – thank you for your comment. I wish this was my profession. I was a political science student at a University in Saint Petersburg, Russia and I used to be a photographer. My blog makes me no money, at this point – traveling in Russia is something I love to do and wish I could do for a living 🙂 I speak some Russian and of course, English (also a small understanding of Spanish and French). I hope to spend a good amount of time traveling in Russia in the future and will continue my blog. Thanks for checking in and I hope you keep reading 🙂 Sincerely, Lindsay

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