Murmansk is the largest city located beyond the Arctic Circle and important tourist centre of the Russian Arctic region.

Murmansk history

On September 21st (October 4th, new style) 1916, on the coast of Semyonovskaya Bay, in the presence of the Minister of Transport, State Secretary A. Trepov and the Minister of maritime Affairs, Admiral I.K. Grigorovich, the city of Romanov-on-Murman and the Church of St. Nicholas of Myrklia were founded. A lot 5400 acres (2,185 hectares) of state land for the administrative, commercial and residential parts of the city, as well as special settlements for port and railway employees, were allocated for the urban area.

The construction of the city is directly related to the construction of the Murmansk railway road in 1915-1916. It connected the Murmansk coast with the rest of Russia through Kandalaksha, Soroka (Belomorsk) and Petrozavodsk. The road was of strategic importance, since in the conditions of the First World War, the ice-free port on Murman made it possible to receive goods from the Entente Allies - Great Britain and France. Access to the ports of the Baltic and Black Seas was blocked by the enemy, and the railway road through Arkhangelsk could not deal with the cargo turnover.

After the February Revolution of 1917, the power was taken over by the Provisional Government, and on March 21 (April 3), Romanov-on-Murman was renamed into Murmansk.

Soviet power in Murmansk was established in October of 1917, immediately after receiving a telegram from Petrograd about the victory of the socialist revolution.

After the citywide meeting on June 30th , 1918, the Murmansk Regional Council actually broke ties with the central Soviet government. Since August 1918, with the military and humanitarian support of the Entente, an autonomous state entity called “the Northern Region“ with a capital in Arkhangelsk functioned in the north of Russia. In February 1920, Soviet power returned to Murmansk.

During the Great Patriotic War, Murmansk was the center of the defense of the Arctic. As in the years of the First World War, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk received Arctic Anglo-American convoys - military goods, fuel, food, etc., from the allies - Great Britain and the United States.

At the moment Murmansk is the administrative centre of Murmansk region. Its population is 287 847 inhabitants (2020).

Murmansk weather

Due to the influence of the warm Atlantic current of the Gulf Stream, winters in the city are relatively mild. The temperature difference between the city and rural areas located at least 10 km inland can be about 20 degrees. Summer is short and cool.

The polar night, the period when the Sun does not rise above the horizon for more than a day, lasts from December 2nd to January 11th. The polar day, when the sun shines the whole day, lasts from May 22nd to July 22nd. The White Nights’ period, when the sun may be hiding behind the horizon, but continues to light the atmosphere, lasts from April 30th to August 15th.

Murmansk tourist attractions

1. A memorial to Defenders of the Soviet Arctic

It was erected in 1974, the height of “Alyosha” monument is 35,5 meters. The memorial complex is situated on a hill named Green Cape. The complex includes the monument, the Eternal flame, memorial pyramid, avenue with memorial plates with names of hero-cities and two anti-aircraft guns. There is a nice view on Murmansk from the hill.

2. Lenin icebreaker-museum in Murmansk

It is the first nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world. The icebreaker was launched in 1957 and made many arctic trips including convoying on the Northeast passage. In 1989 the icebreaker was decommissioned. At present the ship belongs to “Atomflot” federal state unitary enterprise and is idle. Its nuclear reactor was dismounted. On-board the ship the museum is functioning devoted to the history of the icebreaker and the history of Arctic investigation.

From our point of view “Lenin” icebreaker is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Murmansk.

Address: Portovy Passage, 25. Excursion schedule (subject to change): Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – 12:00. Saturday, Sunday - 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00.

3. Memorial complex “To sailors died in peace-time”

The main part of the complex is a tower made in the form of a lighthouse. On its inner walls memorial plates are placed in commemoration of sailors died at sea in peace-time. Next to the lighthouse a part of the cockpit from the lost “Kursk” submarine is installed. Not far from it there is functioning church of the Saviour on the Waters (sanctified in 2002).

4. Murmansk Museum of Regional Studies

The museum was founded in 1926. Its exhibitions are devoted to the nature of Kola Peninsula, history and culture of Saami – aboriginal population of the region, history of Peninsula’s development in middle ages and nowadays and defence during the WWII.
In our opinion special attention should be paid to the exhibitions devoted to Saami and minerals of the Kola Peninsula.

Address: Lenin Avenue, 90. Opened daily from 11.00 till 18.00. Days-off: Thursday, Friday.

5. Navy museum of the Northern Fleet

The museum was founded in 1946. The aged building of the former Officers’ Club has four floors of displays including photographs, ship models, flags, maps, uniforms, weapons and other navy artefacts. Several rooms are dedicated to the history of WWII Arctic Convoys.

Address: Tortseva Street, 15. Open daily from 9.00 till 17.00 (lunch from 13.00 till 14.00), except Tuesday and Wednesday.

6. Murmansk Oceanarium

Oceanarium was founded in 1996. In the Oceanarium water-circus performances are being held with participation of aquatic mammals – Greenland seal, grey seal, ringed seal and bearded seal. Oceanarium also conducts research activities on examination of Arctic seals and educational programs for school children and students.

Address: Prospect Geroev-Severomortsev, 4. Performances: from Wednesday till Sunday:  11:00, 15:00, 17:00; Days-off: Monday – Tuesday.

7. Northern lights in Murmansk

Many visitors of Murmansk are eager to see the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis). This natural phenomenon is sometimes observed in polar and subpolar latitudes approximately from the end of August till the beginning of April. But the possibility to observe the Northern lights in the city itself is often limited by the city lights. In case of favourable forecast in the region and high solar activity it could be expedient to go outside the city to observe the Northern lights.