With a population (ever-decreasing, as with all BAM towns) of 260,000, Komsomolsk-Na-Amure is the largest (and prettiest) town on eastern Russia‘s BAM railway.

Mid-May in Solnechny, a town near Komsomolsk-Na-Amure, Russian Far East

Mid-May in Solnechny, a town near Komsomolsk-Na-Amure

It still isn’t that pretty though, although unlike other BAM towns at least a little thought was put to aesthetics and there are some nice Stalinist buildings amongst the dull, grey concrete. As with most BAM towns the reason to come here is for a dose of “real Russia” away from the Trans-Siberian tourist stops and to meet friendly people whose home is a place where most probably no one was ever meant to live.

A group of Russian peasants founded a village here in 1860 but it wasn’t until 1932 that work began building a city on the site. A mixture of concentration camp prisoners and volunteers from the Communist youth organisation Komsomol built it and after its completion women were brought in from all over the Soviet Union to populate the previously all-male city.

Nearby the city there is however some beautiful countryside and mountain scenery. There are also some villages of the indigenous Nanai people, although they have preserved little of their original culture if compared to groups such as the Nenets of the Yamal Peninsula.

Trains run between Komsomolsk-Na-Amure and Tynda in the west (via Novy Urgal) and from Tynda trains run west to Severobaikalsk, Goudzhekit, Baikalskoe, Krasnoyarsk, the Urals and all the way to Moscow. Trains run east to Sovietskaya Gavan on the Pacific coast, from where a ferry runs to the Russian island of Sakhalin. Trains also run south six hours to Khabarovsk on the Trans-Siberian Railway, from where there are direct flights and multi-day trains to Moscow.

Click here for my blog on Komsomolsk-Na-Amure and Khabarovsk. It’s 2833 words and 19 photos.

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