The city of Murmansk only turned 100 years old in 2016, which makes it Russia's youngest city and the last to be found in the Empire. Nevertheless, this Arctic city quickly made itself famous for a number of things. Recently it was in the eye of the media when the Russian army detained the Greenpeace ship that was protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic. The crew was accused of piracy. It is well-known for the beauty of its northern lights in the winter or the midnight sun in the summer. But, in history, mostly for what happened in WWII. If you want to discover in detail Murmansk's turbulent past you must visit the Regional Museum – nominated as the best museum in the region in 2016.
Unfolding the history
At first sight, Murmansk has this harsh look typical of a cold, arctic city, but there is an interesting story behind how this helped them through the WWII, that has a special display in the museum. The city was only founded in 1916, during the House of Romanov dynasty. By 1920, after World War I, it had gone through a sudden development as it boasted as a port city playing a big role in the construction of a new railroad and as an ice-free location. It was by then occupied by the White Army fighting the Bolsheviks. Soon after, during World War II, the city was bombed to pieces by the Germans, who were trying to take over the Arctic – one of Hitler's major plans. The Soviets fought ferociously and thanks to knowing better about their climate and territory, they were able to survive the invasion. They were proclaimed the Hero City for this act of bravery.
Elsewhere, find also displays about the roots of the native people, a dry aquarium from their local flora and fauna, showcasing polar bears and moose, a big museum library with thousands of copies and an exhibition on the actual modern changes of the city since 1985. If you are into geology, you'll find an exciting exhibit about the Arctic explorations in the Kola Peninsula and the rocks and minerals that can be found there.
The museum opens daily, excepts for Thursdays. All exhibitions are in Russian, so you need to hire an English guide to fully comprehend the displays. Make the museum your first stop when visiting Murmansk. It will give you a general understanding perfect to embrace with more information what you will witness in the city, like the Alyosha Monument.