My time in Svalbard has been packed with activities and I actually only had one free day. For this day, I decided to explore the town that I’m staying in – Longyearbyen.
Longyearbyen, which was founded by John Munroe Longyear, is the biggest town on Svalbard with about 2000 inhabitants and is also the administrative center of the archipelago. It’s also the worlds northernmost settlement with permanent residents.
The town is beautifully situated between mountains, valleys, glaciers and Isfjorden, so there is definitely enough to do and explore here!

The center of Longyearbyen with a statue of a miner
View from the apartment that I was staying in
Snowmobile tracks everywhere!
Colourful houses of Longyearbyen

I decided to spend the day checking out some of the cultural things that Longyearbyen has to offer. My first stop was Svalbard Museum, which cost me just 75 NOK. A local girl had recommended this museum – and since I love museums, I definitely wanted to see it. And it didn’t disappoint me either!

The museum has an exhibition that presents the history of Svalbard from the discovery 400 years ago to today.
One of my favourite sections was a display of five people, who either have lived or still live on Svalbard, which gives an interesting view on how life on Svalbard is today. Also, the stories about the discovery, the early exhibitions to find new land and the coal mining history were all things that had my attention for quite some time.
I spent almost three hours in the museum, reading every little bit of text and studying the old pictures, clothes and objects.
I also found great inspiration in the way that the exhibition was displayed and I love seeing how different museums do it. In the future, I want to open up my own museum – that’s my dream and goal for the future!
The only thing that I didn’t like was all the stuffed animals, but I guess since the wildlife and hunting is such a big part of the history of Svalbard, they had to be there.

In general, it’s a very nice and informative museum, which is definitely worth a visit!

The museum
Entrance to the exhibition
The exhibition was beautifully displayed
“The New Land” – discovering Svalbard
This polar bear was shot in self defense in 2007
Hunting – a great part of the history of Svalbard
One of my favourite sections – people who live in Svalbard today

After reading about the mines at the museums, I decided to go and check some of them out for myself! I went to the abandoned mine 2B, which was later named Santa Claus Mine, and according to the locals, this is where his workplace is. I didn’t go into the mine, as it’s located half way up the mountain and I would need snowshoes to get there, but I was able to get a pretty good idea of it with the zoom in my camera! I would love to have a look in it one day – one of the many reasons that I have to come back to Svalbard!
On the way to the church, which was my next stop, I found another part of an old mine, which I was able to get to and explore! Really interesting!

Santa Claus’ workplace – Mine 2B
Details of the abandoned mine
A part of an abandoned mine

I then went on to Svalbard Church – the northernmost church in the world, which was built in 1958 after the old one was destroyed during the Second World War. I spent some time studying the architecture of the church and then went inside to explore. It had a very modern feel to it, which I’m normally not very fond of, as I really love old churches, but it was still a nice place to visit!

The Svalbard Church
The alter
Cross near the alter
The cemetery in beautiful surroundings

On my way through Longyearbyen, I also saw several statues, all in memory of people from Svalbard, who have played a big role in its history.

In memory of Einer Sverdrup, who was killed on Isfjorden during the Second World War
In memory of John Munroe Longyear, the founder of Longyearbyen

Also, if you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll see wildlife in Longyearbyen as well! I couldn’t believe it when I saw these two reindeer standing at the side of the road! Such an awesome sight and they were so tame as well!

Reindeer in the town!
Beautiful creatures!

I really enjoyed walking around Longyearbyen and learning all about the history of Svalbard and the many interesting mines!
One thing that has surprised me with Longyearbyen though, is the amount of cars that I saw on the road! I mean, there’s only one road and everyone seems to have a car – and a snowmobile.

But anyways, it’s a lovely little town with many things to do and see and I could easily have spent more time exploring the museums, mines and art galleries!

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