Monday 7 September 2009

Upernavik - the Springtime Place

Upernavik  (means "Springtime Place" in Greenlandic) is a small town on the far Northwest coast of Greenland. At 72º latitude, this is the northernmost port of call on coastal ferries from Ilulissat.

The town was founded in 1772 as a Danish colonial station. The old trading buildings is now an open air museum.

The old church is part of the Museum complex

Upernavik is an important sealing and whaling base.
Approximately 1150 live here.

Houses are painted in bright rainbow colours that are lacking in the surrounding landscape - red, yellow and green.

In 1824, a Viking runestone was found outside Upernavik. It bears runic characters left by Vikings, probably from the late 13th century. This is the furthest north that any Viking artifacts have been found.

The rune stone

First day in class for the new pupils in first grade.

The main activity is fishing for halibut, which in winter is caught by means of long lines through the ice. As the sea is frozen from December to June, the fishing grounds can be accessed by dogsled or snowmobile.

The midnight sun and the polar night alternate in an annual cycle, with the midnight sun appearing from 12th May until 1st August.

Young girl in the midnight sun

The shift from light to dark and vice versa does not occur suddenly; the days become markedly lighter or darker day by day. The polar night extends from 4th November, when the sun peeps out for the last time until it appears again on 5th February.

Christmas in Upernavik

Upernavik is a mixture of ancient hunter culture and high-tech fishing industry, with traditional dogsleds and modern snow scooters working side by side.

Hotel in Upernavik

"Upernavik is not less the limit of safe navigation than the remotest bound of civilized existence"