What It's Like to Live in Yakutsk, Siberia, the Coldest City on Earth

Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0
Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The residents of Yakutsk, Siberia are experts at surviving harsh winters. They own thick furs, live in houses built for icy environments, and know not to wear glasses outdoors unless they want them to freeze to their face. This is life in the coldest city on Earth, where temperatures occupy -40°F territory throughout winter, according to National Geographic.

Yakutsk has all the features of any other mid-sized city. The 270,000 people who live there have access to movie theaters, restaurants, and a public transportation system that functions year-round. But look closer and you’ll notice some telling details. Many houses are built on stilts, and if they’re not, the heat from the building thaws the permafrost beneath it, causing the structure to sink. People continue going outside during the coldest months, but only for a few minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

Then there's the weather. The extreme low temperatures are cold enough to freeze car batteries and the fish sold in open-air markets. Meanwhile, a thick fog is a constant presence in the city, giving it an otherworldly aura.

Why do people choose to live in such a harsh environment? Beneath Yakutsk lies a literal treasure mine: Mines in the area produce a fifth of the world’s diamonds. Valuable natural gas can also be recovered there.

While Yakutsk may be the coldest city on Earth, it’s not the coldest inhabited place there is. That distinction belongs to the rural village of Oymyakon, 575 miles to the east, where temperatures recently dropped to an eyelash-freezing -88°F.

Snow-covered road.
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna- CAFF, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Road covered in snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Church surrounded by snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

[h/t National Geographic]

15 Amazing Places You Can Tour Virtually

AndrewSoundarajan/iStock via Getty Images Plus.
AndrewSoundarajan/iStock via Getty Images Plus.

From National Parks to the Louvre, you can check out these 15 different places from the comfort of your own home.

1. The National Museum of Natural History

Outside of the Smithsonian.

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Take a look around the stunning exhibits at this Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. You have the option to tour past exhibits like “Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine” or “Iceland Revealed,” along with what's currently on display.

2. The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal.
R.M. Nunes/ iStock via Getty Images Plus

You can explore the exterior of the famous Indian mausoleum with Air Pano’s virtual tour. It allows you to easily jump to different vantage points of the Taj Mahal and see them from a bird’s eye view.

3. The Great Wall of China


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Constructing this massive piece of architecture took more than 1800 years. You can visit this historical landmark without leaving your couch by heading here.

4. The J. Paul Getty Museum

Outside of the Getty Museum
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Google Arts & Culture lets you take a peek inside this art museum in Los Angeles. With the zoom feature, you can probably get even closer to the artwork than if you were to visit the Getty in person.

5. The Louvre

Le Louvre at night.
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Looking at fine art has never been so simple. On the Louvre’s website you can choose to explore several different exhibits such as “The Advent of the Artist,” “Remains of the Louvre’s Moat,” and more.

6. The Vatican's Museums

The Vatican
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Now you can skip the crowds and still tour inside the Vatican. This virtual tour allows you to see the landmark's museums such as the Pio Clementino, Raphael's Rooms, and others.

7. The Sistine Chapel

A painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
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You can't take a photo of the Sistine Chapel in person—it's not allowed—but you can tour it virtually. Click here, and look skyward to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

8. Route 66

A photo of Route 66.
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Route 66 was the United States’s first all-weather highway, running from Illinois to California. Now you can get your kicks on Google Street View of Route 66.

9. The Colosseum

The Colosseum
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Are you not entertained? You will be as you click around this virtual tour of this ancient arena.

10. Palace of Versailles

Inside the Palace of Versailles.

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Constructed in 1624, the Palace of Versailles contains countless rooms you could easily spend hours walking through. And now you can spend hours leisurely meandering through the halls—without the crowds—by heading here.

11. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

A volcano in a National Park in Hawaii.
Vito Palmisano/iStock via Getty Images Plus.

If you’ve ever wanted to journey to two of the world's most active volcanoes, now is your chance. After a short video introduction, you can take a guided virtual tour of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

12. Stonehenge

A view of Stonehenge.
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There's still a lot of mystery surrounding Stonehenge, a prehistoric stone monument near Wiltshire, England, whose construction dates back to 3000 CE. When you visit the site virtually, you can get a close-up view of the stones, zoom in on carvings, and watch educational videos about them.

13. The Musée d’Orsay

Musée D'Orsay in Paris.
encrier/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Built in an old railway station, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris is the place to go to look at work by Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, and many other artists. Check out their work by heading here.

14. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
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If you’re sitting on your couch, do yourself a favor and take a minute to roam around Yosemite National Park. You can hike to the top of Half Dome, see Nevada Falls, and even star gaze in the park.

15. The Pyramids

The pyramids
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Survey the awe-inspiring achievement of the Great Pyramids at Giza from above.

Dreaming of Your Favorite City? This Website Will Create a Personalized Haiku Poem About It for You

OpenStreetMap Haiku will capture the colorful character of your hometown in a few (possibly silly) phrases.
OpenStreetMap Haiku will capture the colorful character of your hometown in a few (possibly silly) phrases.
vladystock/iStock via Getty Images

You no longer need to spend all your free time struggling to capture the vibe of your favorite city in a few carefully chosen syllables—OpenStreetMap Haiku will do it for you.

The site, developed by Satellite Studio, uses the information from crowdsourced global map OpenStreetMap to create a haiku that describes any location in the world. According to Travel + Leisure, the poems are based on data points like supermarkets, shops, local air quality, weather, time of day, and more.

“Looking at every aspect of the surroundings of a point, we can generate a poem about any place in the world,” the developers wrote in a blog post. “The result is sometimes fun, often weird, most of the time pretty terrible. Also probably horrifying for haiku purists (sorry).”

The results are also often waggishly accurate. For example, here’s a haiku describing Washington, D.C.:

“The same pot of coffee
Fresh coffee from Starbucks
The desk clerk.”

In other words, it seems like the city runs on compulsive coffee refills and paperwork. And if you thought life in Brooklyn, New York, was a combination of alcohol-fueled outings to basement bars and traffic-filled trips into the city, this poem probably confirms your suspicions:

“Getting drunk at The Nest
Today in New York
Green. Red. Green. Red.”

The website’s creators were inspired by Naho Matsuda’s Every Thing Every Time, a 2018 art installation outside Theatre Royal in Newcastle, England, that used data points to generate an ever-changing poem about the city.

Wondering what OpenStreetMap Haiku has to say about your hometown? Explore the map here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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