Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hurtigruten: the Churches

Is it really possible we've been home a month from our Norway trip...and I'm still working 100 mph processing all the images? Yes!

The main thing is to preserve this memory for Astrid and me, but to have you share it is an extra bonus. So, THANK YOU. Tusen takk.

You know me and church architecture! So here goes, from the beginning to the end of the sea voyage:

Day 1: Kirkenes--Vardø--Båtsfjord--Berlevåg

There was only one church we saw our first day after boarding the MS Vesterålen in Kirkenes, Monday afternoon. It was in Vardø, the easternmost point of Norway.

It won't take you long to see how NON-European these churches are!
For one thing, they're almost all made out of wood and are very young. This one is from 1958, younger than Astrid and me both.

Because we had a full hour at port, from 4 - 5 p.m., we high-tailed it to the church and found it open.
Again, nothing like the cavernous cathedrals of Europe. More like the simple churches in which I grew up.

Day 2: Honningsvåg--Havøysund--Hammerfest--Øksfjord--Skjervøy--Tromsø

Our daily schedule was a faithful log of exactly where we were along the fjord coastline..and when. Most of the time we didn't know what to expect but because we didn't want to miss anything, we would always climb the 3 floors to the top deck.

From 8:15 - 8:30 a.m. Tuesday we were in Havøysund (population in 2006: 1,125) and caught this precious Havøysund Church, built in 1960, from the top deck.

That was before we ate breakfast. Before we ate lunch, we had 1-1/2 hours in Hammerfest (the world's most northerly town!) from 11:15 - 12:45, and had plenty of time to walk to the church...which, too, was open.

It was always fun to first see the church from the ship...and then up close, in person.
This is the Hammerfest Church, from 1961.

Instead of an altarpiece, it has a huge stained-glass painting.
Once again, we were not disappointed...two days in a row.

Look at this sweet little church in Øksfjord, which we passed at 3:30 p.m.
The population of the town in 2006: 510.

And then, at 7:45 p.m., after supper, Skjervøy...population of 2,881 in 2010...whose cruciform church was originally built in 1539 and then further extended in 1728.

Then that night, very late, we docked in Tromsø (population 67,305 in 2010) from 11:45p - 1:30 a.m. It's clearly a big city and would have been fun to see during the day.

Decisions, decisions.

We decided to NOT walk into town to see what we might see at night but to get as much sleep as possible ahead of time and set the alarm for 1:15 a.m., giving us enough time to get up on deck to take these pictures before leaving port...and then go back to bed!

The church on the left is the Tromsø Cathedral from 1861 (not in focus, sorry).
The church on the right is the Tromsdalen Church/Arctic Cathedral, a parish church, from 1965.

Day 3: Harstad--Risøyhamn--Sortland--Stokmarknes--Svolvaer--Stamsund

Harstad was our first port of call on Wednesday, from 8 - 8:30 a.m. (population 23,344 in 2010).

The Harstad Church, seen from the top deck, is from 1958.

This, too, is a church from Harstad but I haven't been able to place it yet.
It seems similar to this Trondenes Church but I'm not certain it is. If so, it is from 1434.

Between 12:30 - 1 p.m. we were in Sortland, population 9,509 in 2004.
This Sortland Church , probably the 5th or 6th to be built, was consecrated in 1901.
Notice the weathervane. Almost all churches we saw had one with a date like this.

Day 3 was our Lofoten Islands excursion (last post), from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. That's where we saw one last church of the day, which you may recognize:

This is the Vågan Church, or Lofoten Cathedral, from 1898, as seen through the rainy tour bus window.

Oh yes, this one, too, the Borge Church in Vestvågøy, 1987,
humorously referred to by the locals as the ski jump.

Day 4: Ørnes--Nesna--Sandnessjøen--Brønnøysund--Rørvik

Following our Arctic Circle Ceremony at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, we had a quick 15-minute stop at Nesna at 11 a.m. (population 1,822 in 2004). No time to get off the boat but wonderful views from top deck.

The Nesna Church was built in 1880.
I love seeing the settings of these churches along the coastline.
(click to enlarge)

We docked in Sandnessjøen for an hour, 12:30 - 1:30p.m. (population 5,716 in 2006).
This Sandnessjøen Church...I can't find more info yet....

...but this Alstahaug Church, from 1200, is the biggie, 45 minutes outside of Sandnessjøen.
This is when I wish we could have jumped off the boat for closer inspection!

We DID jump off the boat in Brønnøysund (population 4,506 in 2009) where we docked from 4:15 - 5 p.m., and raced off to the church there....

This is the Brønnøy Church from 1870, made mostly from stone.
"Brønn" comes from the old Norse word for "well" and "øy" means "island".
Too bad it wasn't open...but we wouldn't have had more time than to peek in.

Then later, after supper, from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. we docked in Rørvik (population 2,609 in 2006), where Astrid got off the boat and took pictures for the both of us of the last church of the day....

This is the Rørvik Church from 1896.
The city of Rørvik even has their own gospel choir on YouTube!

Day 5: Trondheim--Kristiansund--Molde

Before breakfast on Friday, we docked in Trondheim (city of 175K people) from 6:45 - 10 a.m.--on a rainy, windy, blustery day. Who cares, right? Nothing was gonna stop us from THE church of the trip, the most important Gothic monument in Norway, and Northern Europe's most important Christian pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages: the Nidaros Cathedral.

But it wasn't right next door to the ship! In fact, we took a city bus in the rain to get there and then walked back as the weather cleared. The church opened at 9 a.m. but we knew we couldn't stay that long and still get back to the ship before departure. Was it worth it to go at all?

Yes, it was worth it for a church that was founded c. 1070!
We wouldn't have missed it for anything. Maybe next time we can go inside.

Within minutes of leaving the dock, this is what she looked like.

4 minutes later, there was a quick shower and the sun came out!

From 4:30 - 5 p.m. we were docked in Kristiansund (population 23,238 in 2010). It had rained again but when the sun came out, this was our treat:

This is the Nordlandet Church, built of granite in 1914.

Day 6: Torvik--Maløy--Florø--Bergen

This was our last day before disembarking our sea voyage at the Hurtigruten Terminal in Bergen. Would we see any more churches before docking? Yes.

We docked in Florø (population 8,448 in 2009) between 7:45 - 8:15 a.m., just before breakfast. We saw the church from the top deck first and knew we could make it up close and personal if we high-tailed it. We were the only crazy ones who did it, but we got our reward:

This is the Florø Church from 1882.

From Florø to Bergen, 6 hours later, there were no further stops and no church sightings...until we began to enter Bergen, population 261,500 in 2010.

From the top deck, we saw the tips of these two Bergen churches:
The top one is St. John's Church from 1888.
The bottom one is the New Church from 1621.

Once we were off the ship for good and had the rest of the day to sight-see around Bergen, we saw some more....

The Church of the Cross (left) is from 1181 and stood right outside our YMCA hotel.
See how seemingly close it's spire is (above right) to that of the Bergen Cathedral (below).

Bergen Cathedral was completed before 1181.
A cannonball from the 1665 Battle of Vågen between the English and Dutch fleets remains embedded in the cathedral's exterior wall (top row above). Blogger friend Charles say it falls out from time to time and they just glue it back in.

And finally, back to St. John's Church from the ground.

Whew! I'm exhausted. My eyes are ready to fall out on the floor. But it's done and what I wanted to gather together into one post as a memory of the churches we saw on Norway's western coastline.

If you've gotten this far, thank you for hanging in there with me!


  1. Very Odd - Blogger isn't liking comments here. I wanted to say, isn't it amazing how you can find churches just about everywhere! I'm always fascinated by the tiny and large churches and ones that I never see here in North America.. It is amazing though to see when some of them were built!

    Talk about searching for churches! That was a job in itself! I just don't know how you remember and keep track of all of it!

    Interested to know how many pics you take/took on the trip (or most trips)

  2. ET: Blogger has really been a mess the last two days, hasn't it! This post published yesterday and then disappeared, as well as all the comments I left everyone. Thankfully I still had this post in my Google Reader and was able to copy-n-paste it to re-post it, back-dating it to when I first posted it yesterday.

    Anyway, this post in particular took a lot out of me. I had kept all our daily schedules with minute by minute stops. That helped. And both Google and Wiki helped, too. I have one or two churches I couldn't find, but maybe later I will. I just don't want to lose the info I have.

    I took a lot of pictures, Jen! But every day on the trip I went through them all and deleted ones I knew I didn't want. That helped. If I counted right, I have 2,681 images left in Picasa, some of which are also Astrid's. They're all sorted into their own files and folders, easy to find what I'm looking for. But it HAS been a chore! Thanks for taking the time to look at each post. That means a lot to me.

  3. Just look at how different these churches are, inside and out. And the scenery that holds them! They speak to me of how differently we receive the world, God, and how differently we can express them.

  4. That was a nice assignment for us, looking for all the different churches on this trip, we spotted some beautyful ones.
    You did an incredible job, finding all the information with them.
    Talk about a full time job.... I am impressed, I truly am.
    Thanks for making this for OUR memory, when we are old and not able to travel anymore....we will have the laptop on the table and we will look at these posts together and we will be in awe about what we did when we were 'young'........

  5. Ruth: I like the way you put that, sister. Thank you! I often thought of Nelson, knowing how much he likes church architecture.

    Astrid: I love that you had as much fun as I did spotting these churches and helping me capture them. I can imagine doing the roudtrip voyage and catching all the ones we missed. It would be worth it to do it all over again! You are so right. One day we will go back over these images and sit with our mouths open, remembering what we saw and experienced. Hartstikke bedankt!

  6. Wow! Very impressive posts you're putting together I must say. Those photos are awesome, I really love the way you have with the camera!

    In fact, I get envious :-)

  7. What an amazing tour! The shots of Nidaros Cathedral are wonderful and it looks like a place to spend a few days among the crannies and nooks. However, that shot from the water in Havoysund makes my mouth water. What a joy to have time to poke around the piers. I'll bet there were lots of fishing boats pulling in and out.

  8. Dear Ginnie,
    teardrops kept falling when reading this wonderful report.
    Did you know that Anna's father was born in Vardö, your first stop?

    Next time you are in Norway (just 5hrs to the Cruise and Car Boat from Kiel, you must see the traditional and only found in Norway: Stave Churches.

    To really enjoy Nidaros, you should be there during the Olavfestdagene :
    We have been there during this week long event. It's something we never ever forget.
    Go from Oslo with your car and visit the Church at Röros.
    In between you will see Churches very different from you have seen before.

    Ooops, I did forget to comment your post. Just a blast; and as I said teardrops kept falling.

    Big hugs to the two of you;-)

    PS. I'm again on an interim Internet solution

    PS2 _ The Word Verification is unreadable -so if I miss, I have to repeat

  9. LC: You're very kind and complimentary, Lady! Thank you.

    Ted: With your love of the water, I can see you totally loving this sea voyage. I will wish it for you and Jane. You'll never be sorry! Thank you for taking the time to look and read.

    Tor: Dear, dear brother. I love that things like this bring tears to your eyes because it tells me we really ARE twins! :) I love that you take advantage of the things in your own country. One day you'll even take the sea voyage, maybe!!!

  10. I'm in awe with all those photos of all those churches. God surely created people with imaginative and creative minds and wills.

  11. Moi: It really is! Thanks.

    Tim: Truer words were never spoken. Thanks. You know me...I'm such a glutton for church architecture everywhere I go.

  12. While all the churches are amazing, the gothic Norway church, wow, built in 1070 !!!! that is beyond words! Everything in california is so new, not much is older than the Gold Rush so something that old is unfathomable for me.

  13. Finally getting back to this post... what an amazing collection of collages! So many gorgeous churches with such interesting architecture unlike our churches here in the US.

    I LOVE the interiors shots from Day 1 with the repeating lines in each image you included in the collage... such lovely color tones too.

    The long shots (from the boat) to put the churches into context in their surroundings are all marvelous to my eye... the Vågan Church and the Borge Church are both lovely... and the Nidaros Cathedral images make my want to be there to see it for myself!

    You have outdone yourself with this post... so many marvelous images. I'm so glad we have digital technology... can you imagine trying to share this saga before digital! (thanks so much for your note in response to my V&V comment... I do know you are there and am getting by each day by wearing myself out putting the house back together... will reach out across the miles at some point and feel you are a kindred spirit for sure)

  14. That Alstahaug Church... it is like a painting ... I can't believe you didn't jump over the side of the boat! And the statue of the mother and son - yanked at my heartstrings. This whole post takes my breath away. Such beauty - I'm sure it was hard to believe it was real even as you were seeing it with your own eyes!

  15. Mad: I know what you mean, exactly! I say that often, coming from America myself where the age of our very country seems young to Europeans. I feel very lucky to be seeing this kind of history and antiquity.

    Victoria: You and I are so much on the same page about these things, which I love. It would be fun to have you join our photo hunt one day. :)

    I know these are busy days for you, so take your time and spare your energy. You will need all of it you can get. That you even come here to read and comment deeply humbles me. Thank you.

    Margaret: I'm still marveling at everything we saw with our own eyes on this trip. I look at the pictures again and it's a second blessing. We were so lucky to experience it. Thank you, as always, for stopping by and commenting here...and even for backtracking. :)

  16. I was cruising along, taking in all the details you captured of churches along your route, and then I had to put the cruise on "Full Stop" when I saw the round white plaque of the angel carrying the babies in your mosaic of the Nidaros Cathedral church yard. I just bought a small bisque plaque with the identical image the last time I was in New Orleans. I had no idea that the image was an iconic one, so I set off on a wild internet research project. It turns out that in 1964 Royal Copenhagen produced a pair of porcelain bas-relief plaques of two Greek Goddesses: Aurora and Nox. The images show them as guardian angels protecting babies during the day and at night. Now of course I'm going to search for the companion piece. Thank you so much for leading me to do this!

    I will say once again how impressed I am at your discipline to go to the top deck for each and every port of call. I can just see the two of you about a hundred years from now, in your rocking chairs with blankets over your laps, pointing out all these images with your quaking fingers. How sweet it is!

  17. DB OMG! That is just amazing. And to think I almost didn't include that image in the collage! I LOVE how things like that thing leading to another. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    And LOL about when we're sitting in our rockers a hundred years from now. We will have the time of our lives! :)

  18. Beautiful, Ginnie, and I see some very familiar places!


  19. Stacey: Wait. Where have you been, Lady! I need your link or e-mail address! I haven't seen you in a loooong time! Maybe I'll find it. Anyway, it's good to see you again. :)