Yakutsk - The Diamond City of Russia

The city of Yakutsk is located about 450 kilometers below the Arctic Circle in the Russian Far East. Yakutsk is a major port on the Lena River and serves as the capital city of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, a federal subject of Russia that is extremely wealthy in gold, diamonds and oil reserves. A 2002 Census estimated the population at over 210,000.

Yakutsk was originally established as a Cossack fort in 1632. The discovery of large reserves of gold, diamonds and various other minerals in the 1880s and 1890s resulted in the rapid growth of the town. Many mining companies have offices located in Yakutsk, including Alrosa, Russia’s largest diamond company which accounts for about 20% of the world’s rough diamond supply.

Yakutsk is the largest city to be built on permafrost and most houses are built on concrete pillars. The Permafrost Research Institute was established with the objective of finding solutions to the problems associated with construction on frozen soil. On request, visitors will be given a tour of this interesting facility. Additionally there is a university in the city, as well as a branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The beautiful Lena River flows through the city of Yakutsk. A boat cruise downriver will take you to the Lena Delta with its magnificent scenery and should you choose to go upriver to the Lena Pillars, the scenery there is just as stunning.

The wealth of the region is evident in the new, modern buildings being constructed in and around the city of Yakutsk. An example of state-of-the-art architecture and construction is the Polar Star Hotel, which is financed by Alrosa. There are a total of eleven hotels in the city, which is testimony to the status of the city as a regional centre.

Yakutsk has some interesting historical and cultural museums which focus on Yakuts, who are considered by some to be the native population of the Sakha Republic. These museums include the Museum of Folklore of Yakutia’s Peoples and the Regional Museum.

The Treasures of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is a well guarded museum which allows access to only 2 to 4 visitors at a time and for good reason. The museum houses the largest and most valuable diamonds belonging to the republic. Gold bricks and nuggets, along with a variety of other precious and semi-precious stones are also on display. The award winning jewelry, which is often fanciful, is the highlight of the exhibits. A stroll down the Ulitsa Lenina will be rewarded with amazing window displays at the many jewelry stores, showing why Yakutsk is considered to be a diamond and gold capital.

Although a wealthy city, Yakutsk is not considered to be expensive and visitors will be enchanted by an unusual side of Russia that not many get to see - definitely worth adding to your travel itinerary.

 



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