Things I know about Kirkenes that I didn’t before

Look! There are trees! I didn’t think there would be trees.

Kirkenes is a small town hidden away in the very top of Norway, just about as far north as you can get. To put it in perspective, Kirkenes is further north than the Arctic town of Inuvik, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

You could be forgiven for not knowing that Kirkenes existed. I didn’t, until not so long ago. But this town will be my home for the next several weeks. Here are some things I’ve learned about it thus far.

  1. The name “Kirkenes” means “church on the point.”
This is the church.

2. The town’s population is between four and five thousand, and it’s growing. Slowly, but it is growing.

3. The Russian border is 15 minutes away. And Russian/European relations are much better here than they are further south.

4. All but 13 houses in Kirkenes were burned to the ground by the occupying German army at the end of the Second World War, when they fled the Russians. Much of the town was hastily rebuilt after the war, so many of the houses look similar, except for their varying colours.

5. It’s really far from other places.

Really far.

6. The town’s economy once depended on the local iron ore mine, which is now suffering badly. But it stands to benefit from increased oil and gas development in the Barents Sea.

7. As of about May 19th, the midnight sun will shine over Kirkenes. Already, it doesn’t really get dark here — just kind of dusky.

Evening in Kirkenes

8. The grocery store has a knitting section. For the long winters, I suppose.

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