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Murmansk is a city in northwestern Russian, an administrative center of the Murmansk region. The city stretches along the rocky eastern coast of the Kola Bay and the Barents Sea. It is the biggest city in the world north of the Arctic Circle.

Murmansk is one of the largest Russian ports. The Murmansk sea port was founded in 1915, during the time of World War I. Its foundation was due to the desire of Russia to get an access to the Arctic Ocean through the ice-free bay, so that military supplies could be constantly delivered by the Entente allies in the situation of the Baltic and Black Seas blockade. October 4, 1916 is considered to be the official date of the city foundation. That day, the Cathedral of Nicholas of Myra, the Saint patron of sailors, was laid. The town was named Romanov-on-Murman, and it was the last city in the Russian Empire. Six months later, in April 1917, after the revolution, the city was renamed into Murmansk.

In the 1920s Murmansk began to develop rapidly, and soon it became one of the industrial centers of Russia. The Fleet and the Shore base facilities, considered modern at that time, appeared, and the construction of factory buildings, an industrial fishing base, and a trawler fleet began. In the area where a military factory of fish processing and ship repairing used to be, a fishing port was established, which also started to develop rapidly, and just in a few years Murmansk citizens began to supply 2 000 000 hundredweight of fish to the country annually. By the year 1941 there were several dozens of stone buildings in Murmansk, and the city had a population of about 120 000 people.

During the Great Patriotic War, Murmansk has repeatedly been subjected to air and land attacks. The Germans tried to seize the city of strategic importance, but the front-line forces held back the Nazis invasion for over 40 months. As a result of air attacks 3/4 of city buildings were destroyed, especially wooden houses and buildings were affected. In early October 1944, the Soviet Army started the Petsamo-Kirkenes offensive operation in the Arctic. Solid fortifications had been erected for 3 years, could not save the Germans. As a result of this operation a large Hitler's military group was overpowered in less than a month, and the state border of the USSR was brought back.

By the end of World War II, Murmansk was nearly totally ruined. Only port facilities and the 3rd line buildings of the city managed to survive. In November 1945, according to a government decision, Murmansk was included in the list of 15 Russian cities, which reconstruction was a primary objective. A significant amount of money was allocated for the development of the city. Thus Murmansk was rather quickly restored. In May 1985, the city was awarded the title Hero City for the defense from Nazi troops during the Second World War. In addition to this, the city has the Order of Lenin award, the Order of the Patriotic War of the first class, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and a Gold Star medal.

In Murmansk there are 3 ski resorts with all necessary facilities. In the north of the city you can visit Southern Slope recreational complex. T-bar lifts will take you uphill. The total length of ski runs is about 600 meters. Also there is a snow tube lane together with a tube lift.

The ski resort Murmansk Lights is famous for its snowboarding, skiing, and snow tubing lanes. The average length of ski runs is 1000-1500 meters, the vertical drop is 200 meters.

In the south of the city there is another ski complex North Star. Here the length of ski trails is about 1 kilometer, and the vertical drop is 130 meters. There are two ski lifts with the route length of 300 and 730 meters.

In summer ski resorts keep on operating. But this time, visitors can enjoy such activities as fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paintball etc.

In spite of being young, Murmansk has many tourist attractions. In three city districts there are more than three dozen of monuments and memorial plates. The most famous are two memorial ensembles - a monument to the Defenders of the Soviet Arctic (the monument Alyosha) and a memorial dedicated to sailors who died in peacetime. The monument Alyosha is one of the biggest monuments in Russia.

The largest number of attractions is located in Oktyabrsky District, on Lenin Avenue, and Five Corner Square, where the first monument of the city, the Monument to the Victims of the Foreign Intervention is located.

The heart of Lenin District is Lake Semenovskoye (Simon's Lake), with a fountain in the middle. On its shores there is Murmansk Aquarium, the only complex in Europe where arctic seals are trained for public performances.

The Kola Bridge (across the Kola Bay) that has recently been built became so-called business card of Murmansk together with the Naval Church of the Saviour-on-Waters. The bridge was being constructed from 1992 to 2004. Its total length is 2.5 kilometers. Until 2009, the Kola Bridge was the longest road bridge north of the Arctic Circle. The Church of the Saviour-on-Waters was built in 2002 with donations from local residents.

In Murmansk you can visit the following museums - the Naval Museum of the Northern Fleet, the Commercial Sea Port, the nuclear icebreaker Lenin (formerly operating icebreaker now turned into a museum), and the Murmansk Fine Arts Museum. Also you can go to see a theater performance in the Northern Fleet Drama Theatre, the Puppet Theater or the Regional Drama Theatre.

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