Located 1448 km north of Saint Petersburg, it takes a 28-hour-long train ride over the Kirov railway to reach the Murman coast. Winters are long and cold in this part of the world and the nights get longer and longer the further we travel deep into Russia’s north beyond the polar circle into the Arctic’s largest city, Murmansk, in search of the polar lights.
Every year around the beginning of December, the polar night begins and the sun doesn’t rise for 40 days. With temperatures between -20 and -40 degrees, everything is covered in ice and snow. The clouds hang low and merge with the steam of the misty landscape and industrial towers. The plain white reflects the colours of the night, giving even abandoned and broken places a numb beauty.
In absence of the natural rhythm of day and night the light is lost as a point of orientation. It could be 5pm or 4am; you would not notice the difference. The streets are almost empty and the tiny bars with shiny TV screens are always open. And then, when the sky clears up and temperatures fall even further, you might be lucky enough to see the famous aurora lighting up the sky above you.
Images: Sascha Pietsch, Johanna Pruessing
For more on Murmansk, and one special “resident” in particular, continue reading here.