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 first.
Norilsk owes its existence to a rich deposit of non-ferrous metals (nickel, cobalt, and copper, along with a bit of platinum, palladium and other more exotic metals). Founded before WWII, 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.
Norilsk has given its name to Norilsk Nickel, one of the world's largest producers of non-ferrous metals. 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.
The only reasonable way of reaching Norilsk is by plane as there are no all-weather roads connecting the city with the rest of Russia. Alykel Airport (NSK IATA) is situated 35 kilometers west of town. Direct flights are available from Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg amongst others.
Opportunities to arrive in Norilsk by means other than a plane are few. There are buses from the nearby port-city of Dudinka and from Talnakh. However, the passenger train linking all three cities is gone, nowadays the world's northernmost railroad only serves freight trains.
Norilsk operates a pretty decent network of bus communication owing to climatic reasons (most time of the year it is very cold and all the infrastructure including transport was designed so that everything is within easy reach). Also you can hail a taxi which is really cheap, even cheaper than buses if you are a group of people, and you can be sure that every car that you call on the telephone or hail on the street is legal with no unexpected prices.
The city centre hosts several grand buildings in Stalinist style, often mimicking ones found in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise Norilsk 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 Museum of History Norilsk Industrial Region (Музей истории освоения и развития НПР), Leninsky Prospect, 14, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
- 1 Arena (Арена), pl. Metallurgov 10, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The first indoor shopping mall in Norilsk, opened in December 2013 to much celebration in town. About 30 shops and a few cafés.
- 1 Ararat Hall (АрАрАт-Холл), st. Kirova 15a, ☎ . Open until 2AM. European kitchen, mainly grilled dishes. Table reservation is recommended.
- Café Zanzibar (Занзибар), st. Leningrad 3b, ☎ . Serves lunch from 150 RUB, live music on weekend evenings.
- 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, ☎ . Popular sport bar, located outside city centre.
- 1 Hotel North Star (Гостиничный Полярная звезда), Leninsky prospect 2, ☎ . One of the better hotels in town, located on the main street. Includes a restaurant and bar. No Wi-Fi, but there is an internet café.
If you do get permission to go to Norilsk, be aware that it is considered one of the 10 most-polluted cities on Earth, and that a substantial stay could jeopardize your health.
See the Get in section. Norilsk being a closed city, you may not be able to move around in the surroundings as you please.