Friday, 11 April 2014

Fugloy, a small and isolated island, one of the Faroes.

Fugloy is the 'last' of the Faroe, a tiny island of steep cliffs lost in the North Atlantic.
An almost perfect Ultima Thule...

Fugloy (Danish Fuglø) is the eastern-most island in the Faroe Islands. Being small, isolated and distant, it is has been losing population in recent years.

A heart-shaped island with a central hilltop and high cliffs in the north and east sides. No trees on the hillsides and plateaus - all the land is covered with grass.

Coordinates: 62°20′ N, 6°18′ W
Population: ~ 40
Area : 11 Km2

The name means bird island, and refers to the large number of birds that nest on the island's cliffs.

The ferry 'Ritan' approaching Fugloy with the Eystfelly cliffs in background.



Two villages - Kirkja and Hattarvík - make up Fugloy municipality. According to the legend, the island was settled in Viking times.

The road between Kirkja and Hattarvick

In the Hundabrævið, written around 1350, the two villages are already mentioned, as also in some legends about pirates, dated by historians around 1400.

Farming is still the main source of income. In Hattarvík there are five farms, at Kirkja there are two. The farms run a total of some 800 sheep, mostly for wool production.

Kirkja, on the south-coast

Some 30 houses and a church overlooking the sea on a green hillside make for a charming village.

'Kirkja' means church; in 1933 a new church was built in Kirkja.

Kirkja offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Faroes.

Replacing the old church, this new temple was built in 1933

The altarpiece was painted by Sámal Joensen-Mikenes, the most famous faroese artist.

Kirkja and Hattarvík are connected by ferry to Hvannasund, on the larger island of Viðoy, to the west.

Since the 90's, the island can also be reached by helicopter either from the national airport in Vágar, or from the national capital Tórshavn.

'Atlantic Airways' flies regularly to the port at Hattarvick

See a video from flight:

Hattarvík on the east-coast.

Coordinates:  62°19′ N, 6°16′ W
Population:   10-20

Hattarvik was founded in 900. Some old stone-houses are said to relate to "Flokksmenn", three strong men who wanted to seize the power of the Faroe Islands in the 15th century.

The unfriendly harbour's boat-house, on top a a steep stone slope

The church was built in 1899. A red-roofed church staring out across the Atlantic surf, it has a cosy unusual interior in blue and white.

Hattarvik is reachable by ferry from Hvannasund and also by a helicopter 3 times a week.

The ferry ' Ritan'

Both villages can accomodate visitors in small guest-houses.

Eystfelli cliffs

This vertical rock wall, 448m high, is located on the east coast.

Nearby there is also this unique lighthouse:

Fugloy Lighthouse

This incredible lighthouse at Bispen (Stapin, see map) painted white with a red horizontal band is perched on a ledge of a cliff roughly 425 m high; it is accessed only by a series of ladders bolted to the bare rock !

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Uelen, in the far-east arctic Siberia - a presentation

I once posted here abour Uelen.
Now, a much better powerpoint presentation :

Uelen, far-east arctic Siberia

More PowerPoint presentations from Mário Gonçalves


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Kajaani, Finland
- a town and a castle up north

Kajaani city, founded in 1651, lies on the Oulujoki river, southeast of Oulujärvi (Lake Oulu), Finland. The reference here is not about remoteness - Kajaani is easy to reach - but about its location: between the Gulf of Bothnia and the northeastern european fronteer with Russia, close to the arctic circle and Lapland, it's still a very cosy and civilized little town. With a castle.

Kajaani looks idyllic in the luxurious pine forest landscape surrounding lake Oulu, the 'Lake District' of Finland.

Location: 64° 13′ N,  27° 44′ E , some 300 km south of the Arctic circle.

Population: ~38 000

The central square (Kajaanin Tori), also the market place, is where most things happen. The town center spreads around the market and along the riverside.

The oldest building in the square is the Town Hall from 1831, designed by C. L. Engel's office.

The small wood-built house serves now for public events.

The Kajaanin Parish Church

The Evangelic-Lutheran church is one of the finest examples of the new Gothic architectural movement, originated in mid-18th century in England. It was completed in 1896.

The church is entirely made out of wood. It was designed by a Finnish architect Jacob Ahrenberg.

The wooden art nouveau Rautatieasema (Railway Station) , one of the town's architectural prides:

Built between 1904 and 1905, when the railway tracks where extended to the 'remote' town of Kajaani, it is probably the most beautiful railway station in Finland.

The building is under a special protection for its cultural and historical value.

Kajaanin Teatteri, the town theatre, enjoys national esteem:

The Kajaanin Theatre was established in 1969 and is one of the most respected theatres in Finland, attracting audiences from all across the country.

The most notable annual cultural events in Kajaani are Kajaanin Runoviikko (The Kajaani Poetry Week) and Kainuun JazzKevät (The Kainuu Jazz Spring).

The Kajaanin hosts theater and musical shows as well as music concerts.

Purola neighborhood

Purola is Kajaani's up town. It is located south of the city, overlooking Kajaani River.

Purolassa is a set of U-streets with lots of wooden houses with mansard roofs.

The houses are most likely from the early 20th century.

Kainuun Pirtti cabin, the arts centre.

Kainuun Pirtti is an old building in the most historic area of Kajaani, and maybe the oldest in Kajaani: it started as a library around 1820, then later served as a school.

More recently it has been a 'Skill Shop' - a chain of arts and crafts shop serving as a Craft Centre, which hosts courses, among others, knitting and spinning.

Kajaani Castle

The castle in Kajaani was built in 1604. At first the fort only encompassed a stone wall, two turrets and wooden buildings erected between them. The castle was blown up during the Great Wrath, or Great Northern War, in 1716.

The castle ruins (1) under the bridge. Kainuun Pirtti (2) is on the entry road to the center (5).

Kajaanin Linna, as the Finns say, is nowadays just a ruin, but it once was a strong and fearful castle at 64° 13' N, in the remote wilderness of north Finland.

'Tervakanava' tar canal and the castle ruins.

Kajaani castle is the last medieval style fortification in the Nordic countries. Unlike some central European castles, it is not a royal or aristocratic castle, but a solid fortification to protect the region from Russians and oversee movements on the inland waterway. It was so formidable that throughout the 1600s the Russians did not even attempt an attack.

See more:

Paltaniemi church

This is a small village by the lake, with a famous picture church, from 1726: the interior was completed between 1778 and 1781.

This unique wooden church was built in 1726. It houses highly valuable wall and ceiling paitings from the late 18th Century.

One of the best preserved paintings by Granberg portrays 'The Last Judgement'. It is located above the main entrance. The top part illustrates the joys of Heaven and the bottom the misery of Hell.

The paintings were created by Emanuel Granberg. Over the years the paintings have suffered substantial damage. 

The wooden pulpit, also painted in blue and yellow-ochre.

Oulujärvi, the lake

Oulujärvi (Oulu lake), with an area of 928 square kilometres, is the fifth largest lake in the country. The lake is drained by the Oulu River, which flows northwest to the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern extreme of the Baltic Sea.

The lake has some long sandy beaches with swimming facilities, where Kajaani residents flow in summer.

Pines help to fix the sand dune on the island of Arjannsaari .

Some are on small islands in the lake, like Arjannsaari island, with sand dunes.
It's also popular for fishing - salmon mainly, but also bream, trout, perch - and canoeing.


The nordic, almost arctic, sunsets by the lake are often gorgeous, one of many marvels at these latitudes: