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Europe > Russia > Siberia > Krasnoyarsk Krai > Taymyria > Norilsk


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Norilsk (Russian: Нори́льск nah-REEL'SK) is a large city in Taymyria. Because of its strategic importance, Norilsk is a closed city and special permission is needed for travel, which will likely be denied unless you have a really good reason. Norilsk is the second largest city above the Arctic Circle; Murmansk is the largest. With a population of 210,000, it is also the northernmost city with a population over 100,000 inhabitants.


Norilsk was founded due to the existence of a rich deposit of non-ferrous metals including nickel, cobalt, copper, platinum, and palladium. Founded before World War II, Norilsk and its mines and industrial plants, as well as a railway connecting the city with the port of Dudinka, were built with a large-scale use of convict labor from gulag prisoners.

Norilsk Nickel is the largest producer of non-ferrous metals in the world, accounting for 38% of worldwide production of palladium and 22% of worldwide production of nickel, a key ingredient in stainless steel. Some of the locally mined ore is smelted into metals at the local refinery. More ore, after some enrichment, is shipped by rail to Dudinka; from there it is sent by icebreaker-led ships to Murmansk, and eventually to the copper and nicker refinery at Monchegorsk, whose own ore has long been exhausted.

As a result of the smelters, Norilsk is the most polluted city in Russia and is one of the most polluted cities in the world, usually covered in chemical smog. The life expectancy in Norilsk is one of the lowest in Russia and its cancer rates are one of the highest.

The yearly average temperature is in Norilsk is −9.8°C and temperatures usually hover around −40°C in the winter.

Most inhabitants of the city were transplants as a result of the high salaries and abundant opportunities offered by the mining industry.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

1 Alykel Airport (NSK IATA) is 35 kilometers west of town. Direct flights are available from Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg amongst others.

By bus[edit]

Buses operate to/from the nearby port-city of Dudinka. From Dudinka, boats offer service to/from Krasnoyarsk in the summer months, but the journey takes 3 ½ days northbound and 5 ½ days southbound.

Get around[edit]

Buses are plentiful and go everywhere as a result of the harsh winter climate. Taxis are reasonably priced.


First house in Norilsk, now part of the local history museum.

Norilsk has several grand buildings in the center; however, it mostly consists of drab commieblocks. Surrounding the city are vast areas of decaying industrial sites which are both depressing and fascinating at the same time.

  • 1 Norilsk Museum (Музей истории освоения и развития НПР), Leninsky Prospect, 14, +7 3919 -460646, e-mail: . Local history museum, main piece being the first cottage built in what were to be Norilsk by an geological expedition in 1921. Entrance fee 10 Rub.
  • 2 Nurdi Kamal Mosque. One of the world's northenmost mosques, catering to the local Tartar community.


  • 1 Norilsk Polar Drama Theatre (Норильский Заполярный театр), Leninskiy prospekt, 34. The world's northernmost theatre, opened in 1941 and manned by prisoners during its first years. The theatre hosts a wide array of cultural events.



  • Zharki, Bogdana Khmel'nitskogo 11, +7 391 942-81-29. Literally, "frying", this cafe has great soups.


  • 1 Club Art Hall, ul. Ordzhonikidze, 3. The major venue in town for the young dance crowd craving dubstep and other assortment of great - and loud - dance music. Mexanika-nights, usually held once a month is where you'll find the biggest crowd.
  • 2 Sport-Bar Overtime (Спорт-бар Overtime), ul. Vokzalnaya, 2A, +7 3919 43-55-75. Popular sport bar, located outside city centre.


  • 1 Hotel Polar Star (Гостиничный Полярная звезда), Leninsky prospect 2, +7 3919 252800. Opened in 2002 after a redevelopment of the building, originally built in 1945. Includes a restaurant, a bar, and a gym. WiFi.

Stay safe[edit]

The major dangers in the city are the pollution and the cold.

Go next[edit]

Barren landscape near Norilsk
  • Putorana Plateau is a huge high-lying basalt plateau 150 km to the south-east of Norilsk. It has beautiful scenery and includes the Talnikovy Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Asia. However, there are no inhabitants of the area and it is extremely remote.
This city travel guide to Norilsk is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.