Ermak Travel Guide

 

Murmansk

Murmansk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Murmansk

Murmansk (Kild. Murman Lann, until 1917 - Romanov-on-Murman) is a city in northwestern Russia, the administrative center of the Murmansk region. Population - 295,374 people. (2018). Murmansk is the largest city in the world located beyond the Arctic Circle. Murmansk is located on the rocky east coast of the Kola Bay of the Barents Sea. One of the largest ports in Russia. For defense against the German troops during the Great Patriotic War, Murmansk on May 6, 1985 was awarded the title Hero City. He was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Patriotic War, I Degree, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and the Gold Star Medal.

 

 

 

Climate in Murmansk

In the Far North, Murmansk experiences cold winters with temperatures routinely dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F). The brief summer offers mild temperatures between 10–15 °C (50–59 °F). Strong winds are common, especially at the higher parts of the city.

 

 

Travel Destinations in Murmansk

As a relatively new city, Murmansk has few real sights apart from the giant statue Alyosha; architecture buffs will, however, be intrigued by the crumbling Stalinist architecture downtown. The architecture is complemented by trees and other vegetation receiving little care.

Walking up into the nearby hills offers remarkable views over the city, Kola bay, beautiful lakes, and the surrounding completely barren mountains - revealing how far north the city really is.

1 Alyosha Statue (north of centre on hill near lake Semyonovskaya, access by road that curves around north of the lake; the nearest bus stop is Gagarina (Гагаринa), northbound trolleybus lines 2, 3 and 4 calls there). The city's pride and most recognizable sight. Officially named Defenders of the Soviet Arctic, but known as Alyosha to all, this 42-meter-tall statue of a soldier overlooks the city and was built in 1974 to commemorate the Soviet defence of the Arctic during World War II. It's common for wedding parties to visit the statue and drink a bottle of champagne in front of the statue. The grassy hill surrounding Alyosha are good hiking grounds with dirt footpaths leading back towards the city.
2 Nuclear icebreaker Lenin (Aтомный ледокол Ленин) (at the docks, cross the railway on elevated bridge next to the central station, turn right then left after 150 m). Excursions weekends 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00; there may be evening excursions on other days. The world's first nuclear-powered surface ship now rests in the docks of Murmansk and has been turned into a museum ship. It also features as a showcase for the Russian nuclear fleet, Atomflot. Guided tours are in Russian only, with some guides able to offer complementary explanations in English. Last tour starting 16:00. Russian citizens - RUB100, Foreigners - RUB200.
3 Memorial to the Soldiers and Seamen Who Died in Peaceful Time (Мемориальный комплекс памяти морякам, погибшим в мирное время) (Leninsky district on the slope between the street and avenue Chelyuskintsev and prospect Heroes Severomortsev). 24/7. Monument dedicated to navy personnel perished at sea during peaceful times. Designed by architects Shiryaev and N. Bogdanova, the hexagonal lighthouse in the centre of the memorial stands 17.5 m tall, with marble stairs leading up to it. Next to the lighthouse is a small museum with artifacts, including diaries of sailors. Since the Kursk accident in the Barents Sea in 2009, the site has become a memorial for submariners as well. Free.
4 Monument to Waiting Women (Памятник «Ждущая») (ul. Chumbarova-Lucinschi, the final stop of the bus 18). Officially named Zhduschaia, this monument is dedicated to the spouses of sailors of the Arctic Fleet, anxiously awaiting the return of their husbands. The sculpture is unusual because it is on of the few in the city dedicated to women.

The city has several museums, all mildly interesting compared to larger cities in Russia, but they do offer a good appreciation for the regions history and art.

5 Arctic Research Institute Exposition, Ul. Knipovicha 6, ☎ +7 8152 47 23 97. M-F 09:00-16:00. Viewing apparently by appointment only; call and ask for Tatiana at least a few days in advance.
6 Northern Navy Museum, Ul. Tortseva 15 (By public transit, take any buses/marshrutkas to the north that are marked "Севморпуть" (Sevmorput') or "Ловова" (Lobova). Exit at the stop near Lobova 42. Continue walking north along Lobova to Tortseva. (Tortseva will be marked as a dead-end street. Walk towards the big blue building and around the right (north) side where all the columns are. The entrance to the museum is on this side of the building and is difficult to see.), ☎ +7 8152 22 14 45. Th-M 09:00-13:00, 14:00-19:00. RUB50.
7 Murmansk Regional Museum of Art, Ul. Kominterna 13, ☎ +7 8152 45 03 85. W-Su 11:00-18:00
8 Regional Museum, Prospekt Lenina 90 (10-minute walk from Five Corners Square or trolleybus 3 or 6 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского)), ☎ +7 8152 42 26 17. F-W 11:00-18:00 (last entry 17:00). Contains displays on various themes, including ethnography of local peoples, a taxidermy display of local flora and fauna (including polar bear and moose), arctic explorations, and an extensive display on Murmansk's role in World War II. All displays in Russian only, cashier closes at 17:00. RUB100, RUB50 extra for photos.
9 Shipping History Museum, Ul Volodarskovo 6 (10-minute walk from Five Corners Square, trolleybus 3 or 6 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского), or trolleybus 2 or 4 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского) northbound or ulitsa Chelyuskintsev (ул. Челюскинцев)), ☎ +7 8152 48 13 56. Su-F 09:00-17:00.

 

 

History of Murmansk

Murmansk was the 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 June 29 [Old (Julian) Style July 12], 1916, Russian Transport Minister Alexander Trepov petitioned to grant urban status to the railway settlement. On July 6 [O.S. July 19], 1916, the petition was approved and the town was named Romanov-on-Murman (Рома́нов-на-Му́рмане, Romanov-na-Murmane), after the imperial Russian dynasty of Romanovs. On September 21 [O.S. October 4], 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, on April 3 [O.S. April 16], 1917, the town was given its present name.

In the winter of 1917 the British North Russia Squadron under Rear Admiral Thomas Kemp was established at Murmansk.

From 1918 to 1920, during the Russian Civil War, the town was occupied by the Western powers, who had been allied in World War I, and by the White Army forces.

On February 13, 1926, local self-government was organized in Murmansk for the first time, during a plenary session of the Murmansk City Soviet, which elected a Presidium. Before this, the city was governed by the authorities of Alexandrovsky Uyezd and later of Murmansk Governorate. On August 1, 1927, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) issued two resolutions: "On the Establishment of Leningrad Oblast" and "On the Borders and Composition of the Okrugs of Leningrad Oblast", which transformed Murmansk Governorate into Murmansk Okrug within Leningrad Oblast and made Murmansk the administrative center of Murmansk Okrug.

In 1934, the Murmansk Okrug Executive Committee developed a redistricting proposal, which included a plan to enlarge the city by merging the surrounding territories in the north, south, and west into Murmansk. While this plan was not confirmed by the Leningrad Oblast Executive Committee, in 1935–1937 several rural localities of Kolsky and Polyarny Districts were merged into Murmansk anyway.

According to the Presidium of the Leningrad Oblast Executive Committee resolution of February 26, 1935, the administrative center of Polyarny District was moved from Polyarnoye to Sayda-Guba. However, the provisions of the resolution were not fully implemented, and due to military construction in Polyarnoye, the administrative center was instead moved to Murmansk in the beginning of 1935. In addition to being the administrative center of Murmansk Okrug, Murmansk continued to serve as the administrative center of Polyarny District until September 11, 1938. On February 10, 1938, when the VTsIK adopted a Resolution changing the administrative-territorial structure of Murmansk Okrug, the city of Murmansk became a separate administrative division of the okrug, equal in status to that of the districts. This status was retained when Murmansk Okrug was transformed into Murmansk Oblast on May 28, 1938.

During World War II, Murmansk was a link to the Western world for the Soviet Union with large quantities of goods imported to the respective military efforts traded with the Allies: primarily seeing military equipment, manufactured goods and raw materials brought into the Soviet Union. The supplies were brought to the city in the Arctic convoys.

German forces in Finnish territory launched an offensive against the city in 1941 as part of Operation Silver Fox. Murmansk suffered extensive destruction, the magnitude of which was rivaled only by the destruction of Leningrad and Stalingrad. However, fierce Soviet resistance and harsh local weather conditions with the bad terrain prevented the Germans from capturing the city and cutting off the vital Karelian railway line and the ice-free harbor.

For the rest of the war, Murmansk served as a transit point for weapons and other supplies entering the Soviet Union from other Allied nations. This unyielding, stoic resistance was commemorated at the 40th anniversary of the victory over the Germans in the formal designation of Murmansk as a Hero City on May 6, 1985. During the Cold War Murmansk was a center of Soviet submarine and icebreaker activity. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the nearby city and naval base of Severomorsk remains the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet.

 

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. In 1984, the Hotel Arctic, now known as Azimut Hotel Murmansk, opened and became the tallest building above the Arctic Circle.

On January 1, 2015, the territory of Murmansk was expanded, when the urban-type settlement of Roslyakovo, previously in the jurisdiction of the closed administrative-territorial formation of Severomorsk, was abolished and its territory merged into Murmansk.

 

 

 


 

Transportation

Get in
By plane
Murmansk Airport (MMK IATA). Has multiple daily flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and limited services to other Russian cities including Arkhangelsk, Sochi and Rostov-on-the-Don. There are also several flights per week from Tromsø and Kirkenes. Seasonal flights are available from Helsinki too.

The airport is about 40 km (25 mi) south of Murmansk, near the town of Murmashi. Taxis to the city center cost RUB600-700 and make the trip in about 40 minutes. Catching a taxi waiting outside the airport is more expensive, expect to pay up to RUB800, depending on your language and negotiation skills. For cheaper (and official) taxi service, you have to order a taxi, expect to wait up to 30–40 minutes for it to arrive, though. Bus 106 goes to the train station, stopping at Detsky Mir near the Poliarnie Zori Hotel on its way, is less expensive but much more sluggish than a taxi.

By boat
During the summer months, Murmansk Shipping Company offers occasional trips to and from Barentsburg on Svalbard. They also serve remote villages along the northern coast of the Kola peninsula, most notably the isolated naval base of Ostrovnoy, with 2-3 trips per month.

A few cruise lines also visit the city during the summer season. The pier facilities are nil, basically a bare pier in a freight handling area, but with areas for buses, taxis, etc. Any scheduled ship will be greeted by port and immigration/customs officials.

By train
Murmansk can be reached from most places in north-west Russia by train. Moscow is 35–40 hours away and Saint Petersburg 27–30 hours, depending on the train. The Arktika (Арктика) branded train is the fastest option, with first-class wagons and a restaurant on board. All long-distance trains make stop-overs in cities such as Kandalaksha and Petrozavodsk on their way. Other night trains reach Murmansk from cities as far east as Arkhangelsk or from Minsk and Brest in the west. Trains from Saint Petersburg and Moscow are daily, most others 2-3 times a week. During summer additional routes are added, mostly to Ukraine and the Black Sea.

Murmansk railway station is in the city center, one block downhill from Five Corners Square on ul. Kominterna (Коминтерн), 16. Tickets can be bought either at the station or online at the webpage of national operator RZD.

By bus
Pasvik Turist provides a bus connection from Kirkenes in Norway daily at 14:00 or 15:00 (confirm on website) for 350 NOK one-way or 600 NOK return (Sept 2017). They also offer Russian taxi (maximum 3 passengers) from 2000 NOK one way. A once-weekly bus service is also avalible from Ivalo, Finland by Auto Express.

Departure times of Russian bus companies from Kirkenes usually are given in Moscow time. Book in advance, and be there on time, since it is a bad idea to miss the bus and overstay Russian visas.

By car
There are roads from Ivalo, Finland (290 km) and Kirkenes, Norway (220 km). When calculating travel time expect hour-long waits at the border and keep the time difference in mind. A trip starting in Kirkenes at 09:00 (Norwegian time) might end at 16:00 (Russian time).


Get around
On foot
Although Murmansk is long and thin, most sites of interest to visitors are within a fairly compact area in the city center. Prospekt Lenina is the main north-south thoroughfare through the city center and the central Five Corners Square. Avid walkers could cover the entire stretch of the central area from the Poliarnie Zori Hotel on the south end of the city center to the Alyosha Statue, on a plateau on the north side of the city, in less than two hours.

By bus
Trolleybuses are available on most larger streets and generally follows a north-south route, if you are heading east ("up the hill") you have to rely on the small mashtruka buses. Both buses and trolleybuses can be much delayed during rush hours due to traffic jams. A route planner showing real time location of trolleybuses on the most used lines is available online, the catch is it's in Russian only.

By taxi
Another option is to use taxis which are plentiful and cheap, few drivers speak anything other than Russian, so memorize the street or name of the place you are going to. A typical journey in the city centre will cost somewhere around RUB400. Unmarked taxis can be cheaper, but are generally a bit unreliable to use for those not fluent in the native tongue.

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

 

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cafe Yunost, Prospekt Lenina 86 (next to the Anatoliy Bredov Statue). Coffees and desserts in a relaxing environment. And jolly good chicken and chips.
McDonald's, ulitsa Leningradskaya 20, korpus 3, "Волна" (Volna) shopping center (entrance off Ul. Yegorova), ☎ +7 8152 55-70-69. 07:00-23:30. The world's northernmost McDonald's. Order at the counter with cash or via kiosk in English or Russian with a credit/debit card. RUB200.

 

Drink
1 Bulldog Pub (Паб Бульдог), ul. Karla Marksa, 48 (up the stairs and right from intersection ul. Karla Marksa/ul. Poliarnie Zori), ☎ +8 8152-260017. Sports bar showing matches from the Barclays Premier League and more. A good selection of draft beer, including ales. Typical pub food is also served.
2 Club Marrakesh, ul. Shmidta 43, ☎ +8 8152-476464. F Sa 23:00-06:00. A swank club hosting many events. Has a fine selection of wines and even a cigar room. Open til early morning.
3 Moisey (Моисей), 9/1 Kominterna St. (downstairs in shopping complex across from the train station). There don't seem to be a lot of wireless internet hotspots so Моисей is a good option. With cheap draft beer and (uninviting) food, this is not a bad place to get one's bearings and check emails after arriving in the city.

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

1 Azimut Hotel Murmansk, Prospekt Lenina 82 (north side of the central Five Corners Square), ☎ +7 8152 550350. Located in the Arktika building, the tallest above the arctic circle, this former Soviet flagship hotel have finally reopened after years of renovation as the city's premier business hotel. Rooms on the upper floors have some fantastic panoramic views over the city and fjord. Free WiFi and breakfast included. Standard rooms from RUB5400 per night.
2 Hotel Ogni Murmanska, ul. Ogni Murmanska 1 (on the bypass road towards Severmorsk), ☎ +7 8152 554000. Hotel and resort complex overlooking the city from its eastern mountain slopes. This is a good option if you are exploring the surrounding nature and wildlife rather than Murmansk itself. Standards are good, there's 80 beds in 37 rooms as well as several cottages. The restaurant is very nice and popular, if somewhat overpriced. All major credit cards are accepted. From RUB3500 per night.
3 Meridian Hotel, ul. Vorovskogo 5/23 (south side of the central Five Corners Square), ☎ +7 8152 288800. Not related to the international chain of similar name. The lobby displays photos of notable former guests, including President Medvedev, which gives an indicator of class of service and of price. Beginning at RUB3500 for a single.
4 Park Inn Poliarnie Zori, ul. Knipovicha 17 (a short walk up the hill from the Detskiy Mir bus stop), ☎ +7 8152 289500. A clean, well-located hotel with helpful front desk staff. Includes the very popular nightclub Ledokol ("Ледокол") which often hosts live music performances. From RUB1300 for a basic single.

 

Interesting information and useful tips

Consulates

Finland Finland (Murmansk office of the General Consulate of Finland in Saint Petersburg), Karl Marks street, 25 A, ☎ +7 8152 445-382, fax: +7 8152 448-341, e-mail: sanomat.msk@formin.fi. M-Th 09:30-12:00.
Netherlands Netherlands (General Consulate), Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5 (at General Consulate of Norway), ☎ +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas), fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, +7 8152 47-61-78, +7 8152 45-68-71, e-mail: visum-mmk@mfa.no. M-Th 09:00-12:00.
Norway (General Consulate), Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5, ☎ +7 8152 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas), fax: +7 8152 45-74-51, +7 8152 47-61-78, +7 8152 45-68-71, e-mail: cons.gen.murmansk@mfa.no. M-Th 09:00-12:00.
Sweden Sweden (General Consulate), Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5 (at General Consulate of Norway), ☎ +7 8152 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas), fax: +7 8152 45-74-51, +7 8152 47-61-78, +7 8152 45-68-71, e-mail: visum-mmk@mfa.no. M-Th 09:00-12:00.

 

 

Stay safe

Some neighborhoods may be unsafe at night, particularly Rostu and Zhilstroy.

Flocks of stray dogs roam around suburban areas and have been known to attack humans carrying food. There are also bear sightings along the road leading to the airport. Although bears usually flee upon contact, mothers protecting cubs may be aggressive.