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The most comfortable cities of the Russian North

Technologies coexist with traditions

13 2020

The Yamal Peninsula is home to Nadym and Tarko-Sale. Two cities that have been recognised as the most comfortable northern cities in Russia. In 2019, the Russian Ministry of Construction prepared a rating of cities, based on the quality of urban environments, safety, and a number of other characteristics. 1,114 cities of Russia were assessed for the rating. Nadym came first among cities with a population of 25 to 100 thousand people. Tarko-Sale became the leader among small towns with under 25 thousand residents.

Nadym and Tarko-Sale have a lot in common: both of them are young cities with modern architecture. They are very compact and a quick walk is enough to explore them. But the locals do not walk around very often: in summer, cities are full of biting flies, and winters are too cold because the polar circle is a stone's throw away. That's why city residents tend to call a taxi even if it's only a 5-minute ride. But the roads are not congested at all: they've never heard of traffic jams. Both cities look very neat. You can tell that significant funds are spent on municipal improvements. Hospitals, kindergartens, schools, shopping centres—all infrastructure objects are in perfect condition.

First mentions of Nadym date back to the 16th-century Mezen Chronicles, but all the way until the middle of the 20th century the only people found in this area were nomadic reindeer herders.


In 1967, a small settlement became a station for exploring the Medvezhye gas field. As the gas field was being developed, the settlement of gas workers was growing bigger. The first major building was constructed in 1971, and in 1972, Nadym obtained a city status. Despite construction moving at a record pace, the young city has successfully become the most comfortable city in Russia.

Nadym has already received this title twice. The city continues to grow and develop. Nadym currently produces 11% of Russian natural gas; new fields are under development, and the Nadym gas pipeline junction provides gas for the whole of Europe.

In Tarko-Sale, all city celebrations and competitions are held on the embankment of Pyakupur River, next to the monument called 'They came from the horizon'. The monument is erected at the exact spot where the settlement's construction began. In 1932, an expedition known as Purovskaya reached the banks of Pyakupur despite great difficulties and a long winter they had to spend on their way.

Expedition members explored the surroundings and picked a place for the future regional centre, at the confluence of rivers Pyakupur and Ayvasedapur. One of them, Mikhail Sargin, put a mark on a tree and wrote: 'Build here'. The name for the town was suggested by the Nenets: 'Talka salya' stands for 'a cape at the junction'.


In 2005, the city erected a memorial in memory of those events, which has become the main landmark of Tarko-Sale. A legend says any wish you make by the memorial will come true. All you need to do is circle the "celestial boat" seven times, bow seven times in the eastern direction, and throw a coin into the river.

Although Nadym and Tarko-Sale are both very young, the cities already have their own special kind of people. They work at technologically advanced facilities but take care of the environment and the traditions of indigenous people of the tundra. And they are always happy to remind the guests that they're visiting the best cities of Russia.


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