Friday, 7 September 2012

Mykines, an island and a village in the Faroe islands

The village of Mykines is the only settlement on Mykines Island, the westernmost of the Faröe Islands.

Few people live in Mykines these days. Altogether there are 40 houses but only 6 are inhabited all the year round.

Population: ~ 21
Location: 62°6′ N, 7°38′ W

It is a beautiful little coastal village of bright houses with turf roofs, and a small stream flowing through. Almost a miniature of all the wonderfully preserved character of the Faröes.

Mykines island has no roads, and Mykines village has no streets: only well used footpaths weave between the buildings.

The old turf-roofed stone Church dating from 1878:

Houses around the church are among the oldest:

Mykines has a small harbour; a flight of about a hundred steps leads up to the village.

The ferry taking passengers, the way down many steps (at right).

Mykines Holmur

Mykines Holmur is a freestanding rock that is connected to Mykines by a small steal bridge, high as 35 meters. A lighthouse was built there on top of the cliff , in 1909.

The Lighthouse on Mykines Holmur

The access from the village to Mykines Holmur is cutted by a deep gorge called Holmgjogv:

Only recently a bridge was built across the straight, to allow tourists an easy visit to the bird sanctuary.

On the new bridge over Holmgjogv (the Holmur gorge).

The rock is inhabited by thousands of seabirds. The most large population is of Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), the only puffin species which is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The curious appearance of the bird, with its colorful huge bill and its striking piebald plumage, has given rise to nicknames such as "sea parrot".

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)


Though the regularity of ferry services can be disrupted by inclement weather, the ferry visits one to three times a week, except in winter.

It is possible, though, to reach Mykines three times a week by helicopter:

View from a helicopter as it lands on Mykines


The first settlers were most probably Irish monks. The first settlements of people from the northern countries is probably from around the 9th century. More placenames on Mykines are thought to have Irish or Celtic origin, and in this way are indicators of early Irish settlement.

896 - Mykines first school opened
1906 - painter Sámal J.- Mikines was born on 22 February, baptised Samuel Elias Frederik Joensen, but later changed his name to Mikines.
1909 - building of the first bridge over Holmgjogv, the narrow strait between Mykines and Mykines Holm.
1961 - work started to build a ramp to haul the boats ashore.

The painter Sámal Joensen-Mikines was born in Mykines in 1906 and died in 1979. He is the most famous painter in the Faröe Islands, and I published some of his pictures and facts in my previous post here.

The Kristianshús was Mikines' atelier; now it's the only visitors accomodation in the village, a nice guest house.

Sources and more about Mykines: