The following is an excerpt from Mike MacEacheran | December 4, 2017 | BBC.com |
Much farther north than the famous fjord inlets, Norway’s northernmost seaboard of Finnmark is a frontier on the edge. Five hundred kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, it is a raw wilderness of abrupt peninsulas and brooding cliffs at the nerve ends of the world, a place where nature has long had the upper hand. In winter, as if by decree of Odin, roads vanish under deep snows that cut off communities for days. And when polar darkness descends, from mid-November to late January, it is near absolute.
But as you drive along the deserted, snow-crusted road to Hammerfest, population 10,527, past barely-there fishing hamlets and cod trawlers at standstill, you soon learn that one of the world’s northernmost towns has had far worse problems to deal with than temperatures plummeting below zero.
For Hammerfest’s history is a luckless narrative of natural disasters, fires, plagues and war, spanning a timeline from Napoleon to the Nazis. And despite being one of the most storied settlements in northern Europe, the town’s acutely modern look might strike you as odd. Look around and it feels different to elsewhere this far north.
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