Route 4: Big Ben and gateway to Arctic
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Route 4: Big Ben and gateway to Arctic

June 29, 2020

They say, those who have not been to Dudinka knows nothing about the Polar North.

Everyone who comes to Norilsk should visit not only the Old Town and natural, industrial and other tourist locations, but also the capital of the Taimyr Municipal District. The history of the development of these lands originates from Dudinka, named after the pioneer merchant Dudin.

This is actually the gateway to our part of the Arctic region. Traveling to Taimyr by sea, you can get there only through the Kara Gate. The first settlement on the way will be Dudinka, the occurrence of which turns us to the beginning of the 17th century.

At first, Dudinka, in historical documents referred to as “the yasak winter hut of Dudino”, grew slowly: a distant point stood alone in the harsh Taimyr tundra. And only in the nineteenth century Swedish naturalist researchers got to it. They informed the world that the famous Dudino consists of only “seven or eight dilapidated shacks, one unfinished house and a small wooden chapel” (Professor Niels Adolf Erick Nordensheld based on materials from Dr. Edward Toll).

Since ancient times, this place has attracted the attention of researchers as a convenient transshipment base for further movement east and north. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in January 1667 received an important report from the Mangazeyan archer Ivan Sorokin: he informed the emperor that a winter house had been built on the Dudinka river. Later, many research expeditions were based there and started from that place:

1742 – Hariton Laptev and Semyon Chelyuskin returning from Hatanga lived here;

1843 – the expedition of Alexander Middendorf, a Russian naturalist and traveler, was based. He first crossed the Taimyr Peninsula, and provided us with information about the North Siberian Lowland;

1865 – merchants Sotnikov and Kytmanov, a Yenisei gold miner and a ship owner, discovered deposits of copper ores and coal in the Norilsk Mountains. Two years later, Sotnikov would dismantle the brick church and build the first smelter there;

1913 – Fridtjof Nansen mentions Dudinka in his book To the Land of the Future, at about the same time, Nikifor Begichev explores the area up and down;

From 1919 to 1930 – 115 expeditions were sent there, which did tremendous work on the study of natural resources.

Since 1930, Dudinka has been the center of the large Taimyr National District. It received the status of the city in 1951. Today it is an administrative center with many attractions. 22.6 thousand people live there, including representatives of the indigenous peoples of Taimyr – Nganasans, Nenets, Enets, Dolgans, Evenks.

We will definitely walk around the most interesting places of the city, but for now let us stop at one of the symbols of Dudinka – the clock tower.

The tower is installed at the administration of the Taimyr capital. Unique in its kind the clock tower became a gift from the Nornickel Polar Division to the 346th anniversary of the city. Made of red brick, it is vaguely reminiscent of the London’s Big Ben, although no reference to the English architectural composition was supposed. Just a coincidence. But the beautiful tower on the main square of Dudinka is called Big Ben.

From that key point, a stunning view of the beautiful Yenisei, the unique northern river and sea port, the temple, the Dudinka Museum of Local Lore with the Ursa constellation on the front of the building and other attractions of the city can be seen.

Last weekend, June 27, 2020, the capital of Taimyr celebrated its 353rd birthday. The most interesting sightseeing in this ancient and modern city will be continued.

Text: Marina Khoroshevskaya, Photo: Nikolay Schipko, Denis Gaskov, Arthur Varnakov and the archives of the Norilsk citizens

June 29, 2020

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