Lifestyle Travel

Photo Essay: Teriberka, Russia

Old Teriberka sits at the edge of the world, a village more or less abandoned, caught up in changing tides following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Once the administrative centre of its district in the northern Russian region of Murmansk – the largest city in the Arctic Circle, and a thriving community – it now sits, crumbling, in a frozen bay on the Arctic Coast.

Before its steady decline began in the 1960s, when the nearby town of Severomorsk was declared the new administrative centre of the district, Old Teriberka saw rapid post-war development. It gained its own collective farm, shipyard, fish processing facilities, housing, two schools, and even a stadium.  As ship tonnage increased, coastal fishing became increasingly economically unviable, and the skeletons of boats serve as a lingering reminder of the village’s history.

Two small seasonal hotels and one restaurant remain in Teriberka, catering to the steady trickle of tourists who brave the ice road to get here.  The snow and beach blur together, and in the colder months ice floats in the sea, leading to one of the most unusual beach holidays it’s possible to have.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, people began to move away from Teriberka to larger cities with better job prospects, the new fish plant in the region’s capital, Murmanskk, attracting workers away from the smaller plants in Teriberka. 

Nowadays the landscape is a strange juxtaposition of tumbledown Soviet buildings, their windows blown in after years of Arctic winters, and abandoned cars; with the  vast unflinching beauty of the Arctic coast and an ocean that rushes on and on to the Pole.

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Alex Burgar is a fourth year reading German and Russian. When not at Oxford, she enjoys spending time with her two donkeys!