Magadan - uVisitRussia


Magadan is a city and seaport on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, located in the northeastern part of Russia, in the Far East. It is the capital of the Magadan oblast and the Kolyma region gateway.

Magadan is a small Leningrad [former name of St. Petersburg], was what Farley Mowat, a Canadian writer who explored Soviet Kolyma in the late 1960s, used to say. And these cities do have some things in common — in addition to being situated on the same latitude.

The authorities who built Magadan also paid great attention to architecture. Built in the 1930s, the buildings in the historical center were designed in the Stalinist Empire style, which includes elements of Baroque style.

Walking through the center of Magadan, visitors can imagine what it was like in the 20th century when both gulag prisoners and volunteers struggled with the brutal climate as they worked to build this beautiful city in the land of the permafrost.

During Stalin’s reign, Kolyma was a land of repression. Hundreds of thousands of people were sent there to work in labor camps where they mined gold, tin and uranium for the state while dying of cold, hunger and guards’ bullets. Somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000 people perished there.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was near Magadan that a monument to the victims of the gulags was built in the 1990s. The 15-meter-high concrete “Mask of Sorrow” is perched on a hill near the city.  Depicted as a crying face, with the tears made up of smaller and smaller crying faces, the “Mask” symbolizes eternal grief and reminds its viewers of the intolerable violence that Kolyma witnessed during the Soviet era. The impression it leaves is hard to forget.

The location of the “Mask of Sorrow” is quite far from the city center, but it’s easy to book a bus or car trip there, which you can do at the local museum.

Magadan surely has beautiful places, but to see the most spectacular views you’ll have to leave the city. Don’t worry — it’s not too far away. If you long to see the sea, you can just follow either Portovaya or Nagaevskaya street from the center of the city and after walking for just 5-10 minutes you’ll reach the Nagaev Bay. The sea usually is too cold to swim, even in the summer, but local residents love to spend warm days there, enjoying the breeze and sunshine.

The city is surrounded by green hills and some of them are definitely worth exploring, especially the one where the so-called “Stone Crown” is located.  A unique, naturally-occurring rock formation, its peak resembles a crown and can be viewed from Nagaev Bay. The distance to the peak from the city is about eight kilometers, so it’s a good excursion for those who love hiking. After walking for a couple of hours, visitors will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of Magadan and the bay.