The name of the Yamal Peninsula located in the north of Western Siberia means "End of the Land" in the language of its indigenous inhabitants, the Nenets. It truly is a lost world near the coasts of the cold Kara Sea, a land of endless swamps and tundra. It has way more reindeer than people: here's where you'll find the largest herd of deer in the world. There are few cities in this remote peninsula, and Novy Urengoy is the largest one.
It's also the largest city in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Located next to the border of the Arctic Circle, it's more than two times bigger than the capital of this region, Salekhard. The city keeps growing and has already been nicknamed the "gas capital" of Russia and recognised as the city with the largest income per capita in the country.
Novy Urengoy strikes the visitors with the incredible scale of its construction projects. The majority of the buildings look brand new, and the diversity of the architecture is truly amazing. Russian, Canadian, Finnish, Turkish designs make it seem like you're in a multi-national large city in the junction of trade routes, not on a remote peninsula. But then you notice a distinct feature: all multi-storey residential buildings in the city are painted a variety of different colours.
This is first and foremost a necessity rather than a design element: although the city lies further from the north compared to its Arctic neighbours, the weather conditions are incredibly harsh. Winter lasts for 9 months, and the temperature can remain a consistent –40°C for weeks. Bright colours please the eye when the entire city turns into a snowy desert.
The number of top car models on the roads of Novy Urengoy is on par with Dubai. No wonder: Novy Urengoy is the number one city in Russia by income per capita. Yamal produces three-quarters of Russian natural gas. That's why Novy Urengoy's well-deserved nickname is the "gas capital" of Russia.
City streets feature a whole range of monuments and interesting urban sculptures. For instance, one of the city symbols is a ship fountain, erected for the 30th anniversary of Novy Urengoy. Although it's rarely used for its original purpose due to the harsh climate, the fountain makes a spectacular illuminated installation during the long winter.
There are so many unique sculptures in Novy Urengoy that there isn't enough time to take a proper look at all of them. A family of mammoths made of recycled materials, a magical carriage in front of the luxurious Wedding Palace, a monument to the drilling rig and Urengoy explorers, a statue of Vladimir Vysotsky, whose songs were played during the construction of the city…
Next to the railway station, there is a TEZ-3003 locomotive—currently a monument—which was the first to arrive in Novy Urengoy with construction materials and food supplies. Even Borodinsky bread has its own monument in Novy Urengoy.
The residents of Novy Urengoy do not consider themselves Siberians. 'We are northerners!', they say proudly. And they are right: Novy Urengoy does not look like Siberian cities, and its people have their own way of life.
Relaxed as most provincial cities, Novy Urengoy is full of dignity. Even in the coldest weather, you won't see a person running.
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