Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tórshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands

I've been away a few weeks, I'm sorry I couldn't publish sooner; I hope this long post will compensate for my absence.

The Faroe Islands are a Danish territory halfway between Iceland and Scotland. The Faroese main town and capital is Tórshavn, located in the southeastern coast of Streymoy, the largest island of the archipelago

Though Tórshavn is quite small for a capital, it still displays a rich heritage and History as well as a modern European lifestyle, old turf roofed houses live side by side with galleries and cafés.

Tinganes is the historic location of the Faroese 'løgting' (parliament). On the left side is Vastervág, where maritime trade started.

The city was founded in the 10th century and was named after Thór, the god of thunder and lightning in Norse mythology. The Vikings established their parliament on the Tinganes peninsula in 825 AD. The Viking settlers established their own parliament called 'ting'. They would meet on the flat rocks of Tinganes every summer, until probably 1035.

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Coordinates: 62° 0′ N, 6° 46′ W
Population: ~ 13 000
                    (urban area: ~20 000)

After 1035 the 'ting' gave place to a market which gradually grew into a permanent trading area by the port. All through the Middle Ages the narrow peninsula jutting out into the sea made up the main part of Tórshavn. In 1856, free trade came to the Faroe Islands; as the islands opened to the world, Tórshavn gained a central trade position, thus became the capital of the Faroe Islands since 1866.

'Tinganes' means "parliament jetty".

This is one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world, along with Tynwald hill in the Isle of Man and Þingvellir in Iceland. The parliament has since moved to the north of the city, but the home-rule government still sits here.

Tinganes alleys.

Á Reyni, the oldest borough

Turf roofed wooden houses painted in blach with white or red framed windows - that's the oldest part of the town.

The houses were made of drift wood, since there were no trees on the islands. Driftwood was then a precious commodity!

Café Natur

Close to the old city by the port, this is a classic favourite.

Áarvegur, 7

The H. N. Jacobsen bookstore

HNJ Books is right next door to the Visitor Information Centre and is a little treasure trove of scandinavian books.

H. N. Jacobsen was a bookbinder who founded this bookshop and supported “the protection and preservation of the Faroese language”.

Vaglið 2, 100 Tórshavn.

Tórshavn's two harbours:

Tinganes peninsula divides Tórshavn's waters in two harbours, East and West.

Vestaravág (West Harbour)

This is where Tórshavn grew as Faroe's largest trade port. It looks a little like late Hanseatic from the early 20th century, with the three-storey warehouses and the cathedral beneath.

View from Vágsbotnur.

Poul Hansen warehouses, since 1927.

The cathedral tower from beneath the warehouse roofs.

Tórshavn Cathedral, the second oldest church in the country.

Seen from Vágsbotnur, a street along the Vestaravág shore.

The Glaeman, café and bar.

A lively meeting point by the sea.

For a more refined outdoor seating: Kaffihúsið

Bryggjubakki, 14

Kaffihúsið, also located on the waterfront, has a local atmosphere in a modern decoration.

Usually gets quite crowded as the night falls.

Eystaravág (East Harbour)

This is a more commercial and modern harbour.

The old kiosk

In Niels Finsen gøta, this is one of the most photographed views in town.

Restaurant Áarstova

Gongin 1, in Á Reyni, the old town.

Áarstova means 'the house by the brook'.

Also in Áarvegur, another cosy café, the Jynx, on the sidewalll of a turfed roof cottage.

This northern town has definetly acquired the taste for a good expresso.

Guðrun & Guðrun
the most attractive shop in Tórshavn for foreign visitors.

Niels Finsensgøta, 13

Hand-knitted items, for a wardrobe in Scandi-style.

The famous faroese knitwear woolly jumpers (as Sarah Lund used in 'The Killing').

Öström, Skálatrøð

Öström: faroese design, gallery, working studio, café - also on Vestaravág.

This design store/café  is a space where Faroese designers can showcase their work: fashion, jewellery and homewares are all on display and available for purchase.  A 'chic' space for coffee and snacks.

The Nordic House

The Nordic House (Nordens Hús) in the Faroe Islands, the most important cultural institution in the Faroes.

The Nordic House hosts exhibitions, lectures and other cultural events.

Well, I do think the Faroese have many reasons to be found of their capital city. And when they feast St. Olav, they publically show that joy.

St. Olav day in Tórshavn.

Christmas season in intensely enjoyed as the only feast in the 'long winter nights' period.

As cruise ship tourism to norternmost Europe is developping, Tórshavn is visited annually by several big ships: still a remote destination, but its nordic charm and authenticity make for a long term appeal.