Salechard: the last outpost before Yamal peninsula
15 April 2015
Any expedition to Yamal peninsula will probably start from Salekhard, a vibrant and modern city, capital of Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region, hosting a very nice museum about history and nature of Siberia. Salekhard means "house on the peninsula" and is connected to Moscow by daily jet service, as well as to other major cities of northern Siberia.
Photos of Salekhard. Salekhard (written also Salechard or Салехард in Cyrillic) is a city that lies cross the Arctic Circle in northern Siberia, more precisely in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region, for which it is the capital. Unlike other cities of Russia, Salekhard has a modern feel and many new buildings, brightly colored. The reason for its recent expansion is due to the discovery of huge deposits of natural gas and oil, which are attracting workers from all over Russia.
However, the modern buildings of Salekhard, contrast with the now considered "historical" wooden houses, which are still present in both old and modern districts of the city.
At 2015, Salekhard has just under 50,000 inhabitants, coming up here thanks to the demand for labor by companies that extract gas and oil.
Salekhard has also a small mosque with its minaret.
More Salekhard photos. The historic district of Salekhard hosts mainly old wooden houses, which have to constantly deal with the settlement of permafrost (permanently frozen soil)
In fact, the continuous settlement of permafrost, due to seasons and global warming, causes strong deformations in the buildings, making finally impossible to open or close windows normally, due to deformed frames.
A car trapped in the ice will only be released and used in the following summer.
The Arctic Circle monument in Salekhard marks exactly the latitude of 66° 33' 39" and, at least theoretically, it is where on summer solstice the sun never sets, while on winter solstice the sun never rise.
Another modern monument is dedicated to natural resources, especially gas, of which the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region possesses so large stocks, to be able to meet the needs of all of Russia for many years.
In the photos on top, the frozen Ob River used as a natural highway that connects the nearby town of Labytnangi. The river is 3 km wide and the possibility of building a bridge, is under evaluation (although the amount of traffic does not justify such a high expense). In the bottom-left photo, a monument dedicated to mammoth, of which the region is home to numerous remains stored in the frozen permafrost.
This monument recalls instead the many victims among the workers employed in the construction of the railway that should have linked Salekhard to the rest of Russia: the project was first abandoned because of the complex geology of the region, but it is currently under reconsideration. The nearest train station of the region is in Labytnangi, on the opposite side of the Ob River.
Salekhard houses a wonderful museum dedicated to the history and nature of Yamal peninsula and Siberia. Admission to the museum is free, with rooms and corridors almost deserted, since the entire region of Yamalo-Nenets is closed to tourism and visitors (even to Russians themselves).
The tundra of Siberia is a true paradise for scientists, because cold weather and ice have preserved remains of ancient creatures, which otherwise would have been lost. In these photos, one mammoth skeleton almost completely intact, except for the tusks and other small parts that have been rebuilt.
A mummy of a puppy mammoth in excellent condition, one of the best existing finds in the world about this extinct animal.
On the left: the mummified leg of an adult mammoth, with hair still attached. On the right picture: a mammoth's molar tooth.
A rare skeleton of Siberian woolly rhinoceros.
The visit to Salekhard museum continues through the halls that house the typical animals of the region.
The Salekhard museum houses also a human mummy in excellent conditions.
Among the historical artifacts preserved in Salekhard museum, we find objects from various eras, as the arrows in the photo on the right, dating back thousands of years ago, or the more modern wooden toys of the top photo.
Other findings in Salekhard museum include an idol in bronze (pictured right), a fishing net dating about 2 millennium ago, and the reconstruction of a Nenets tent where I've camped during the expeditions of the past ten days.
The trucks used for the removal and the transport of ice and snow in Salekhard.
A bridge built on a branch of Ob River, has a restaurant on top of a high tower.
The panoramic view of Salekhard and the Ob River from the top of the tower.
Although tourists in Yamal are almost non-existent, in Salekhard there is some nice hotel of international standards.