Vardø Lighthouse – longitude east of Istanbul
Yes, Vardø is actually east of Istanbul, St. Petersburg, and Kiev!
Vardø Lighthouse was established 1896. The current lighthouse building dates from 1959 and it was automated in 1991.
- Vardø Lighthouse stands 67 feet (20.5 meters) tall and is poised way up at 253 feet (77.2 meters above the high tide level.
- Also known as Hornøya Lighthouse, since Hornøya is the name of the islet on which it stands.
- This is an active light with a focal plane 77 m (253 ft); white flash every 30 s. 20 m (66 ft).
- The tower is square pyramidal structure, clad with iron panels, with lantern and gallery. It is painted white with a red lantern.
- The 1-1/2 story keeper’s house, generator house, and other station buildings are all of recent (1950s-1960s) origin.
- This is Norway’s easternmost lighthouse.
- The lighthouse is located atop Hornøya, a huge rock island just off the harbor of Vardø. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed.
- Vardø is the gateway to the northeast passage and the Barents Sea. Vardø muncipality has approximately 2,200 inhabitants. It is the only town in Norway situated in Continental Subarctic climate zone, which means that the average temperature per mounth exceeds 50° F (10° C).
- Vardø is the world’s northernmost fortress village and is one of Norway’s oldest towns, its status dating from 1789. It is Norway’s most easterly town. The town itself is on the island of Vardöhuus, but the municipality includes significant area on the mainland.
- In the summer, Vardø enjoys 24-hour a day sunshine and nature shines forth in response. In the winter, starting in late November and lasting through most of January, the sun is not to be seen and the Northern Lights often make the sky a wondrous spectacle.
- The Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten) has daily departures going both east to Kirkenes and south-bound to Bergen.
- Now-infamous witch trials took place here in the 17th century (more on this below).
- The rich fishing stocks in the surrounding sea are the main reason for the town’s existence. Traces of settlement from 6,000 – 7,000 B.C have been found.
- In August 1944 Allied bombings destroyed many of Vardø’s old buildings and the town was almost entirely destroyed by fire. Nevertheless, there are many buildings which escaped the wrath of the flames. Vardø is home to North Norway’s largest wooden building, the old primary school.
- The eastern part of Finnmark is in the same time zone as the rest of the country, even if it is more than an hour at odds with daylight hours.
- The port of Vardø remains ice-free all year round thanks to the effect of the warm North Atlantic drift.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, 135 “witches” were indicted and 91 were burned (many of them indigenous Sami) in Vardø. Today the victims are being memorialized as part of an ongoing $400 million architecture and design development project along Norway’s 18 designated National Tourist Routes, which include roadside lookouts and new design hotels. This particular monument—designed by artist Louise Bourgeois and Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor—is a chair enveloped in flames and enclosed in a 125-meter-long building, with a window built for each victim of the witch hunt. Read more about this beautiful sculpture memorial.
The municipality of Vardø with its seabird colonies of Hornøy and Reinøy are famous There is a small breeding population of Brunnich’s Guillemot as well as larger numbers of Razorbill and Common Guillemot.
- Komafest was a fascinating and beautiful urban art and graffiti event organized in Vardø. Dozens of mostly-abandoned buildings were decorated by international artists in July, 2012, culminating in a grand opening and a guided town tour attended by hundreds. The event was curated by noted Norwegian urban artist “Pøbel”. Participating artists were Stephen Powers (USA), “Vhils” (Portugal), “Roa” (Belgium), Atle Østrem (Norway), “Ethos” (Brazil), “E. B. Itso”, “Husk mit navn” (both Denmark), “Horfe”, Ken Sortais, “Remed” (all France) and Conor Harrington (Ireland).
- Vardø’s population halved between the 1960s and 2000s. As a result, Vardø was left with many empty buildings in various stages of disrepair. “Pøbel” wanted to organize a larger scale continuation of the “Getto spedalsk” (“Ghetto leperous”) project, where he and collaborator “Dolk” painted abandoned buildings in at the Lofoten islands.
- After securing the cooperation of local developers in spring 2012, the project started getting permission from individual property owners to decorate buildings. The name “Komafest” plays on the notion of the houses being roused from their sleep by the activity.
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation‘s (nrk) wonderful video of Vardo Lighthouse. Click to view.