Last weekend saw a trip to Barentsburg, the second largest town on Svalbard with a population estimated to be 3-400 people. The settlement is largely a mining town with the population made up almost entirely of Russians and Ukrainians. On the way we stopped at at the old coal facility at the disused port in Colesbukta. The view from here across Isfjorden is stunning but it’s easy to imaging how remote and sometimes desolate it could feel to have worked here when it was still operational.
Barentsburg is only about 55 km from Longyearbyen but there are no connecting roads and so the trip can only be made by snow scooter, boat or helicopter. At this time of year a snow scooter trip to Barentsburg is a popular excursion.
Mining in Barentsburg has been operated by the Russian company Arktikugol since the 1930s but this and therefore the population in Barentsburg has declined significantly since then. In recent years tourism has taken over and the town has seen some renovation including the hotel and even a small brewery.
There is also a tiny church built in the mid 1990s.