Tour the Intriguing Town of Srednekolymsk

The town of Srednekolymsk is situated on the banks of the Kolyma River, in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). It is one of the oldest settlements in this district - one of four that were founded in the seventeenth century. Documents have confirmed that Srednekolymsk was founded in 1644 and received its status as a town in 1775. Hardship and economic deterioration almost crippled the town, but if you look hard enough you fill find a world of interesting stories and forgotten secrets from history.

With an estimated population of 3 587 residents, the town is small and quaint and it is known to be in the center of the harshest and most unforgiving climate in the entire country. As a destination in Russia, visitors will be amazed to witness how people and animals survive these temperatures and the permanent layer of permafrost that covers the landscape. The ruins of the Gulag period of Russian history are still evident a few kilometers outside the town, where the Gulag (a State Security branch) erected a forced labor camp for political prisoners. But as some locals recall, not all that were forced into these camps were criminal, and when looking at the terrain surrounding Srednekolymsk, it is probably a miracle that any prisoners survived. Some prisoners remained here after the death of Stalin and the abandonment of the camps, and went on to become teachers and healthcare workers in the area. But it was also the Perestroika that hit the majority of Russia hard. Implemented as an economic reform structure by Mikhail Gorbachev, it almost destroyed the Russian economy, instead of saving it.

An interesting group of people to visit are the Yakut people, who have been living in and around Srednekolymsk for centuries. They are legendary horsemen that still practice the age-old traditions and culture of raising and riding horses. Here visitors will find a unique breed of horse, the Kolymskaya. They are breathtaking creatures that look similar to the Icelandic Horse, but are more adapted to the harsh conditions by having much thicker fur, being a stockier horse and having the natural ability to find food under meters of ice to survive on their own. Yakuts also believe in training a horse through understanding, and will sometimes spend years being patient with a stubborn animal. They are fiercely against the use of sticks, whips or any similar methods, which they view as brutal tactics used by people who are not true horsemen.

Srednekolymsk is also an ancient treasure trove of ice age remains and fossils, as in 1900, just outside the town, the full remains of a mammoth were found. In the 1980’s, the founder of the History of the Ice Age Museum-Theatre, Fyodor Shidlovskiy, also made a few noteworthy fossil discoveries in the area surrounding the town. The town of Srednekolymsk is a wonderful destination in Russia, filled with amazing discoveries, a remarkable history and friendly local residents eager to tell their stories.


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