Murmansk Oblast

Cultural Life in the Polar Seafarers' City

A Quest for Food for Thought and Spirit in Murmansk

9 August 2022 // Murmansk can be called City of the Impossible. It is the largest settlement beyond the Arctic Circle, in a place where any sign of civilization used to seem a utopian theory back in the day. Still, there is a city with a well-developed infrastructure, as well as a rich business and cultural life, on the Arctic Ocean coast. Murmansk is not only about Northern lights and blaring ship horns; the city offers its guests museums, theaters and a wealth of other entertainment. Of course, most are sea-themed, one way or another.

The first place a tourist should see in Murmansk is naturally the Naval Museum of the Northern Fleet. It opened in the House of Officers after the end of the Great Patriotic War, on 16 October 1946. Its inaugural exhibition was titled 'Defense of the Soviet Transpolar Region during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945'. Since then, the museum staff has created over a hundred mobile exhibitions, displayed at every naval base of Russia, as well as on warships of the Northern Fleet.

The museum's permanent exhibition includes naval flags and weapons, military paraphernalia, orders, medals, documents and personal effects of the Northern Fleet seamen. Nine spacious display rooms showcase scale models of submarines, aircraft and warships from 1693 onwards.

The museum's collection totals over 65,000 unique exhibits telling the story of the Northern Fleet's development in great detail.

After having your fill of the Northern Fleet's iron-bound history, you can proceed to the Murmansk Aquarium, Europe's northernmost. It is found by Lake Semenovskoye. Its location is well-justified: pinnipeds who serve as actors there would sometimes be released to swim in the lake back in the day. However, over time, this practice had to be abolished.

Still, there's more than sea dwellers to lift the spirits of a Murmansk guest. The oldest Drama Theatre of the Northern Fleet operates here above the Arctic Circle. It was founded in 1935 in the town of Polyarniy, where the submarine base was located; in 1946, it moved to Murmansk.

Many nationwide-known actors ascended to fame at the Northern Fleet Theatre. In 1947-1948, a young Mikhail Pugovkin was part of its company. Today, the theater's repertoire includes not only military-themed productions, but also original renditions of works by Russian classics.

Murmansk is home to a supremely unique museum – the Lenin nuclear icebreaker. Over its 30-year stint in the Northern seas, the Lenin covered 654.4 thousand miles, which is over three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. In 1989, the nuclear-powered vessel made her last port call in Murmansk. Today, the historic vessel has a new mission: she was converted into a museum dedicated to the history of the world's only nuclear icebreaker fleet.

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