Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Arctic churches: simple and colourful

Arctic churches are usually a landmark, sometimes the best building around; most look like this: wooden made, a rectangular body , a single bell tower on the front face, walls coloured red, blue, brown, gray - in general an attractive and rather joyful building, not a dark heavy one.

Inside, a single nave, columns are rare, no chapels, transept in a few, and a modest altar. Now and then, a side chapel, a vestibule or covered entrance, some woodwork.

Some examples, a mini-album:

1. Grise fiord, Arctic Archipelago, Canada

2. Uelen, Russia, Northeast Siberia.

3. Vardø, Norway

4. Uummannaq, Greenland

One of few stone churches in the Arctic !

5. Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, Northwest Territories

That's a church! Even has a cross plant and a roof skylight.

6. Ittileq, Greenland

7. Unalaska, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Topped with russian orthodox onion-shaped domes:

8. Arctic Bay, Baffin Island, Canada

9. Upernavik, Greenland

By now, you may have noticed: most greenlandic churches are vivid red.

10. Tasiilaq, Greenland

This church is now Ammassalik Museum

Church bench decoration, inuit theme

11. Mo-i-rana, Norway

12. Longyearbyen , Svalbard Island

13. Sisimiut, Greenland

Sisimiut is well known for its two colonial - era churches: the red one...
... and the blue one:

14 . Kimmirut, Arctic Archipelago, Canada

An anglican church built in 1909.

15. Resolute, Arctic Archipelago, Canada

16. Qaqortoq, Greenland

17. Nuuk, Greenland capital's old church

18. A jewel: Ilulissat, Greenland

For a medieval stone church in arctic latitudes, see

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) , an atlantic creek and a viking parliament

Thingvellir, Iceland, is the historic site of the oldest parliament in the world, one of the most spectacular parks in Iceland and a huge surface creek between tectonic plates.

Here the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes above water: Thingvellir is an enormous geologic rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

One of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Thingvellir National Park is also central to the nation's history: it was home to the first parliament in the world. Icelandic Vikings began meeting here annually in the 10th century, gathering around a giant rock formation to create new laws and amend previous ones.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a divergent boundary, so as the two plates are slowly moving apart Iceland will sometime in the future break into two seperate land masses with the Atlantic Ocean between!

These two continents are drifting apart, due to the tectonic plates, at the speed of 2 m per century, so the land here is constantly sinking due to the land-masses splitting apart, and thus a huge graben, or rift valley, is forming.

The Alþingi or Althing (viking parliament) was founded here around 930 AD, and assembled each summer. Later it functioned as a court of law until 1798. Many crucial events in Iceland's history took place here, such as the adoption of Christianity around 1000 AD, and the foundation of the modern Icelandic Republic in 1944.

19th century rendering of the Law Rock in Þingvellir.

Public addresses on matters of importance were delivered at the Law. The Lögrétta, the legislative section of the assembly, was its most powerful institution.

Since 1930 Þingvellir has been a National Park, and in 2004 ist was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Þingvellir National Park

The property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built from turf and stone, remains from the 10th century thought to be buried underground. Also
Lake Þingvallavatn, with a rich geological history and ecossistem, and the Öxarárfoss (waterfall of the Öxarár river) are protected attractions of the Park.

Old church where the Öxarár river joins the Þingvallavatn lake

Öxarárfoss waterfall