Mirny | Russia
Travel Guide

Talnakh | Russia Travel Guide


Mirny History
Mirny Weather
Mirny Transport
Mirny Sights
Mirny Hotels
Bonus Fact!

Mirny, a town whose name means Peaceful, is indeed a somewhat quiet place, being located in the deep centre of the massive Sakha Republic (more commonly known as Yakutia, an utterly vast area of Siberia that would be one of the world’s largest countries if made into a nation).

This is one of those towns that popped up out of nowhere (there is, of course, an indigenous population in this area, but no settlement was specifically here previously). A tough place to get to, but somewhere very rewarding for any visitor who makes it this far!

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Mirny History

Throughout the history of Russian eastward expansion, mineral exploitation has been one of the drivers, here in the centre of Yakutia it was long known that the tectonic and geological conditions were ideal for finding diamonds, but given the scale and inhospitality of the place this was no easy thing to find.

However, in 1955 a team of geologists struck gold, as it were and located a massive kimberlite pipe, massive on such a scale that the face of this region would be changed and human habitation and exploitation would become an instant inevitability. For the full explanation of this story, only a few decades old after all, the local museum has you covered (it is complex and involves lots of science too, but stick with it when there!).

Settlement moved fast from tents and reindeer to trucks, roads, and miners, and by 1959 there was an actual town here, that expanded and exists to this day – all sustained by little nuggets of ultra-hard carbon, and the enduring market for these sparkly gems!

Mirny is remote, one of the remotest settlements it is possible to visit, but due to the value of its main products, it is far from as dishevelled as many may expect (especially those arriving here from the far east, in Magadan, will be used to experiencing. There is internet, phone service, youth culture, Hollywood movies, hipster burger bars, and all the trappings of modern life. Plenty of Soviet legacy in terms of architecture, street art and sculptures too, in short an ideal mix for anyone who likes the modern world, but with a good deep flavour of the 20th century Russia forming the base too.

Oh, and there is a colossal pit, one of the biggest ever dug there too, let's not forget that!

Mirny is very much a company town, and the company in question is Alrosa, a Russian diamond conglomerate that searches for, mines, processes, manufactures, and sells diamonds.

Alrosa is unavoidable in Mirny and is headquartered in the town, they produce more than 25% of the world’s diamonds and more than 95% of those in Russia. It's fair to say Alrosa is something of a big deal.

Once a state-owned company (as they all were) it is now jointly owned by the Russian State and the local oligarch and has multiple subsidiaries and affiliates, too complicated (and boring!) to go into here but suffice to say that without Alrosa there is no Mirny, and possibly without Mirny there would have been no Alrosa.

They run the local airline, fund all the local schools and sports clubs, employ (directly or indirectly) almost everyone in the town, built the Orthodox Church and the Stalin Statue (they cast a wide net ideologically it seems!), and so much more. Alrosa = Mirny and Mirny = Alrosa.

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Mirny Weather

In winter it is as cold as it gets, with temperatures getting down below minus 30 centigrade, even before windchill is taken into account. So wrap up warm (or more sensibly, don’t go in winter!). Summer is short (just July really) and much more temperate, also not too many mosquitoes in the tow itself, a blessing for those travelling in Siberian summer! More detail on precipitation and temperature variation here can be found online.

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Mirny Transport

How to get to and travel around Mirny


There is a fairly sizable airport in Mirny, being so remote this is also by far the best way to get here and how almost everything and everyone that foes in and out gets in and out.

For fans of vintage Russian planes this place is also a goldmine (sorry, diamond mine) as the mostly-mothballed Alrosa Avia fleet sits here and displays all manner of Ilyushins, Tupolevs, and so on. Sadly it is not operated as an aviation museum and so just glimpses can be seen.

Alrosa Avia is based here and also flights from Yakutia Avia and other regional carriers come in. Connections are all within Russia but Russia is big (newsflash!) and so it is not too hard to get a connection to here from places as diverse as Moscow, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, most of the major cities across Russia basically.


There has been a road leading to Mirny since the 1950s, it is long, passes through endless forests and swamps, and was so difficult to build and use initially that the first drivers who make the journey are lionised to this day by monuments and museum exhibits.

Still, it is paved and used and takes around 2 full days of real driving to get to the capital of the Sakha Republic; Yakutsk.

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Mirny Sights

What to do in and around Mirny

Massive Pit

This is the reason you are here in Mirny, to see what remains of what was once the largest diamond mine in the USSR, and one of the largest pits ever dug by mankind.

Utterly dominating any aerial view of the town the Mirny pit is a true marvel of human engineering in a hostile environment.

Dug to a depth of 525 metres and with a many km long road carved into the side of it this pit was the lifeblood of Mirny from its inception until the closure of this part of the mine in 2004 (the mine itself remains open, as a shaft dug to a vastly deeper depth just to the side of the main pit, less sexy than a massive hole, but more effective for getting deeper into the earth to find the valuable shiny things).

Workers here had to cover all machinery in the winter nights, metal and rubber would crack and break in the coldest temperatures, jet engines were brought in to thaw the earth, new mining techniques not involving water were developed to extract the bounty from the frozen earth, decades of harsh labour brought billions of dollars of stones from the ground; gem quality, industrial diamonds, the whole range of rocks have been found here.

The largest diamond extracted here was a 342-carat monster catchily named ‘26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’ (take that, ‘Kohinoor’!) and the mine survived flooding, partial collapses, and all manner of difficulties to remain viable for decades.

All things come to an end though and you can only dig a hole just so deep, as the pit reached the end of its life it was eventually abandoned and now the road to the bottom no longer exists other than a line still carved into the side, largely covered by various landslides.

Some of the pipes that pumped out the groundwater (thawed permafrost) can still be seen and the viewing platform, made up partly of one of the giant excavating machines) offers an amazing view down to the bottom of the pit and to the toy-like buildings of the town beyond.

A journey to get here is expensive and time-consuming, but the view and experience are well worth it, this is one of those sights that few get to see! Souvenir shops in town sell magnets and postcards of the pit, make sure you get one!

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Museum of Kimberlites

The very reason or the existence of this place is the colossal Kimberlite pipe, so when in Mirny it seems simply wrong not to visit this place and learn about how diamonds are formed, see a million core samples and examples of various rocks and gems, get a proper education on how it all works.

Frankly, the explanations here are deep and complex and aimed at people who have more than a passing understanding of geological concepts, plus they are often delivered int hat soviet didactic style which can be trying on those used to just wandering around and reading bit and bobs, but stick with it and you will get an appreciation of the intellectual efforts as well as the physical that go into creating such a place as you are in at that moment.

This museum is a gem (sorry!) and shouldn’t be missed just because it is a little gruelling and complicated!

House of Culture

On the side of the main square, this is mainly a cinema and local entertainment complex now but it also contains a small museum which educates the visitor on the history of the town, the search for and exploitation of diamonds, how early explorers and settlers lived, and some of the wonders that can be dragged from the ground in this area; not only diamonds but also things like Dianite, named for Lady Di.

Somewhat hagiographic about the Alrosa Company (mind you, guess who pays for it all!) but a really good intro to where you are and explained in a style suitable for non-experts. Make this a first stop

Sad Lenin

As you will know by now (there is no way this is the first Russian town any visitor has been to!) everywhere has a Lenin; massive ones, powerful ones, ones dubiously hanging around children’s playgrounds, all manner of Vlads abound in the world.

This Lenin though just looks….sad. He is sitting down, looking a bit pensive, perhaps they were going for a Le Penseur vibe, but ended up looking more pissed off than pensive. Local children climb on him, passers-by pose for photos, make this an early stop and wonder what has made Lenin so sad

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Monument to Drivers

At the side of the road a little way to the South of the city this tasteful and photogenic monument (handily located next to the sign marking the entrance to the city, so a two-for-one deal here!) this names and lauds the achievements of the first drivers to drag their vehicles across Russia to begin the settlement of Mirny.

Now you only have to be at the wheel for a mere 2 days to get to the next city, back then this took them months, everyone loves a road trip but these guys would have been justified in never wanting to get back behind the wheel. Hero drivers indeed! Learn the story here and in the local museum

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Monument to Explorers

A well-laid-out small complex based around a statue of a Russian Geologist and a local indigenous guide working together while riding a reindeer sits here on the south side of town.

This is somewhat typical of Soviet-era monuments to new explorations to remember to include the efforts of the local pre-Russian population, without whom getting across and around this kind of land would have been impossible. For all the justified praising of the Russian explorers in braving such conditions it is always worth remembering that indigenous people lived and thrived here already, as they still do

Church of the Holy Trinity

Since the end of the Soviet Union, religion has flourished in Russia and churches can be found everywhere, this is a good example of a recently built church in a classic orthodox style.

Used by many locals and located next to an amazing wall mural of heroic medals given to the city in its previous more secular days, a priest can give an explanation of what you see here.

Stalin Monument

Located across the road from the church and built by the same people who funded the construction of the church (at this point there is no prize for guessing which company) it is certainly odd to see a 21st Century monument to the Man of Steel, especially considering he has died before Mirny was even established.

Some people obviously have soft spot for Uncle Joe to this day though so here he is, a rare site even in Russia today. Get a photo and wonder at the motivation for putting this here!
Mirny Yakutia Russia

Walk the Town!

Mirny is very walkable, and if you are here in summer you will get 23 hours of daylight, so make the most of it! The town isn’t dangerous (a  few boy racers on the roads, but look before you cross) and is more diverse than you may think, with miners and families coming from across the territory of the former USSR.

There are relics of Soviet-era street art, quirky buildings, varying architectural styles, a monument to Gagarin (almost as ubiquitous as Lenin across Russia, even now), and much more to see.

There are cafes and bars to sop at, souvenir shops, and all the trappings of modern life. It is easy for it to get late before you realise and suddenly everything is closed, so keep an eye on the time, but people will walk around with their kids deep into the night in summer so an uncanny feeling of being somewhere very different can develop. But that’s what you came for, so soak it all up!

A couple of branches of the Russian coffee shop chain Travellers Coffee can be found here, good Wi-Fi, nice food, good coffee, well worth stopping at on a walk around town to update your IG

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Mirny Hotels

There are a number of guesthouses in the town as many visitors do come here, mostly for work and diamond-related reasons. For tourists, the only place to really recommend is the Zarnitsa Hotel (owned by Alrosa, of course) in the very centre of town, on the main square, just across from Sad Lenin.

Zarnitsa Hotel is modest in size, has a decent restaurant, and incredibly thick walls due to the exceptional cold that grips the city for much of the year. As a result in summer, it can be on the warm side in the rooms and there is no air conditioning (not really worthwhile to add for the 3 weeks of the year it would be useful). Still this hotel has a good location, a bar, nice enough staff, and good rooms. Stay here when in Mirny.

Mirny Yakutia Russia

Bonus Fact!

The 2018 Keanu Reeves flop ‘Siberia’ was largely set in a curiously mosquito-free Mirny. Sadly it was filmed in Manitoba, although shots of the Mirny Mine feature in the film anyway. Frankly, It isn’t a very good film, and the fact that a movie star known for sitting on a bench looking sad (yes, Keanu is known for other things, of course we love John Wick too!) didn’t get to travel and get a photo with a sad-looking Lenin sitting on a bench is a missed opportunity indeed

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