Thursday, January 13, 2011

The North Cape in the Land of the Midnight Sun

IMG_4899 Nordkapp

After our brief stop at the Sami trading post, we re-boarded the bus to reach the famous headland on the island of Magerøya named the North Cape of Norway.

English Explorer  Richard Chancellor named this point in 1553 when he passed the cape during his search for the Northeast PassageNordkapp is the Norwegianized form of the English name.

The North Cape is the point where the Norwegian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and the Barents Sea all converge. The Barents Sea was named after Dutch explorer and cartographer Willem Barentsz. This enchanting depiction is from the journal of fellow cartographer Jan Huyghens van Linschoten who joined Barentsz during his first two attempts at finding the Northeast Passage in 1594.

Source: Wikipedia
When I was in elementary school in Amsterdam, I learned about Barentsz’s tragic death at sea. I even had a jigsaw puzzle illustrating his quest. A nice summary of Barentsz's adventures can be found here at the website with the very intelligent name 

Barentsz remarkable map of his third attempt in 1597; it was published two years later. 

This modern, less fanciful, map shows the red Hurtigruten route we sailed on the “MS Midnatsol”. The North Cape is labeled, also in red, at the top of this map.

The North Cape is at latitude 71 degree, 10 minutes, and 21 seconds, just over a couple of thousand kilometers south of the North Pole. To give a frame of reference,  San Francisco is at latitude 38 north and London is at 51.

IMG_4878 Nordkapp 71 degrees 10 minutes 21 seconds

The North Cape's headland overlooks a barren, yet picturesque landscape. On this grey day, it was difficult to differentiate between the sky and the horizon.

IMG_4921 North Cape

The steep cliff rises 307 meters ( 1,007 feet) above the sea...

IMG_4891 Nordkapp

Today’s most iconic image of the North Cape is the globe that was built in 1978.

IMG_4915 Nordkapp

IMG_4898 Nordkapp

Daring explorers have scaled the walls of cliffs of the North Cape over the years. This spire commemorates the visit of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway in 1873. 

IMG_4910 North Cape King Oscar II spire

In 1956, a road was built to give easier access to this famous landmark. The North Cape Hall houses the elaborate tourist center...

DSC07828 Nordkapp

...which features full-scale dioramas of scenes of the journey and arrival of King Oscar II.  A Thai temple and shrine honor Thailand's King Chulalongkorn's visit in 1907.

IMG_4886 nordkapp shrine thai kingDSC07835 Nordkapp shrine

The ecumenical chapel  St. Johannes Kapell...

IMG_4888 st johannes kapell

...has a beautiful mosaic entry shaped like the bow of a ship.

IMG_4887 nordkapp kappel ship's bow mosaic

...which is an altar with an opalescent mosaic on the inside.

DSC07834 Nordkapp Chapel altar

A full bar, with its unique architecture and furniture that blends into the environment, allows you to take in the view while sheltered from the elements. 

DSC07836 Nordkapp restaurant ceiling

We had soup and an open-face sandwich in the nautically-decorated cafeteria.

DSC07831 Nordkapp from cafe

We had time to briefly visit the Children of the Earth Monument...

IMG_4903 North Cape Children of the Earth monument

...before our bus ride back to our ship.

IMG_4588 Midnatsol

“Midnatsol” is the word for “midnight sun” in Norwegian. The midnight sun can be seen from the North Cape between May 14 and July 29. We were at the Cape on August 2nd, so technically the sun did set, but I certainly did not witness it. I remember waking up in the middle of the night curiously looking out our porthole. Though this was taken a few hours earlier, it looked very similar at three in the morning. 

IMG_4946 Midnatsol porthole

I took this picture from the ships deck the night before, when we were still at the 70th parallel north.

IMG_4739 from the Midnatsol

After seeing the beauty of the sun’s light in this part of the world, I can understand why the midnight sun has been a major inspiration for literature, music, and countless paintings.
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Anonymous said...

I always look forward to your always takes me and teaches me about places I have never been! What a beautiful country side...those pics are so postcard-ish! :)

CC said...

Fascinating voyage. Would love to go myself. Also enjoying the beautiful old maps.

Thanks so much for sharing all this.

Marilyn Miller said...

I am thoroughly enjoying your trip. I would love to travel in this part of the world someday. Lovely! The water and the sky do melt together, but beautifully!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Wondrous journey. The photographs are beautiful and your commentary makes me feel like am there.

rochambeau said...

Thank you for taking us along with you to the Land of the Midnight Sun~ What great photos you captured and this is interesting history for me to read as I have relatives in this neck of the woods. Barentsz was a brave person!! Funny that the site is Godutch!!

Tomorrow I get to hear Pat Conroy and Fanny Flagg speaking in our little town!! Also Jamie Ford, who wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. There will be 72 authors in all!!

Hope you are well Dutchbaby! Happy reading to you!!


Lisa Gordon said...

This sounds fantastic!! The last photograph here is beyond beautiful!
Have a wonderful weekend!


Ruth said...

A desolate and distant place, but so beautiful, and your photographs are brilliant. The North Cape Hall and its offerings look remarkably well designed and inspiring. The interior design! And exterior too. I love that you share these exotic visits with us.

Unknown said...

What a gorgeous country, and as beautiful as your photographs are, I'm sure they don't begin to do never do. That midnight sun picture is breathtaking. I will most likely never set foot in Norway, but I have the pleasure of visiting through your eyes. Thank you.

Kala said...

What a fantastic experience. I would love to travel that far north one day and see what you have seen!

lorilaire said...

Magnifiques paysages !
Bisous de Normandie !

A Cuban In London said...

Despite the barrenness and isolation, the landscape is of a breathtaking beauty. That last photo (top to bottom) is competition material, believe me.

Many thanks. I always look forward to your travelogues.

Greetings from London.

Vagabonde said...

We had breakfast at the cafeteria where you had lunch and I did not notice the ceiling. I bought my husband a “Nordkapp” cap and people here think it is Russian. The style maybe, but the letters are not in Cyrillic. Your last picture is gorgeous. When we arrived at the Nordkapp it was very early, around 9:30 or so and after breakfast the sun came out. I took many pictures too, just could not stop.

Thanks for coming to my blog and commenting. I remember you said that you had Armenian friends. You are right, I am part Armenian since my father was full Armenian and my mother full French. But I told my husband today that if I went with the way Americans view things I should be considered full Armenian and not even mention that I am French, was born in France of a French mother, but only say I am Asian (Armenia is in the Asian part, below Asian Turkey.) I say this because of the US President Obama whose mother was white, he was raised in the US and born in Hawaii, but everyone say he is a full African American. So next time someone asks me where is my accent from, I’ll say Asia…lol! That will make some eyebrows go up!

Ginnie said...

LOL at Vagabonde's comment! :) You both have really whetted our appetities for this cruise, DB. I can hardly wait to get our catalog of what to expect...especially the first week in April. I'm guessing we'll have a lot less sun compared to what you had in August. Will we be at the North Cape, too? I'll have to find out, I guess.

George said...

What a wonderful little tour of the North Cape of Norway, Dutchbaby. To have all of these trips without "pat downs" by the Transportation Safety Administration officials is quite a treat.

susanna said...

Oooh, another great trip with you! Your thorough descriptions and photographs of the places you visited are terrific. Will you be framing any of these photographs for your home? You should!

And aren't the maps interesting? I especially like reading the old names. It reminds me of the maps found in the first pages of books like The Lord of the Rings where the author has drawn out his make believe world.

Jeannette StG said...

Thanks for taking us with you on your trip to the Northern regions - breathtaking! (and glad you are better at history than I am!)
I'm surprised that the Northern sun did not your ability to sleep, or?

Like what Vagabonde had to say about her heritage:):)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear tchesney,
It tickles me to know that you learned something new here on Dutchbaby. Thanks for your kind words.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
I was thrilled to have found the ancient maps. The reindeer sleigh in van Linschoten's map was particularly surprising to see. I would never have guessed that this image is over four hundred years old.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marilyn,
Thanks for coming along on this peaceful cruise. We enjoyed many cups of warm tea along the way.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Lorenzo,
I am thrilled that you enjoyed the journey!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Constance,
I'm so glad you came along on this leg of the cruise.

I enjoyed my virtual visit to your incredible author event in Jefferson, TX. Pat Conroy is my favorite author of all.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear lisa,
I'm glad you like the last photo. It was one of those crystal clear moments I will always remember.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
I was quite taken how the Norwegians use all the colors of the sea in so much of their interior design and how they use wood and steel in such sleek and modern, yet organic, fashion.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
You are so right! As pleased as I am with how that final photo turned out, it does not compare with seeing it in person. The color of the shimmering water and the light on the mountains was unforgettable.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Kala,
I think you would have a great time taking many photos here in the extreme North.

Dutchbaby said...

Cher Lori,
C'est vrai, c'était merveilleux!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Cuban,
Barrenness and isolation is exactly right! I sure wouldn't want to be stuck here for a winter like Barentsz did.

You say the nicest things :)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Vagabonde,
You are so lucky to have seen the sun rise there. I bet your photos are spectacular. As you can see, it was quite a grey, colorless day for us.

I would like to see the expression on people's faces when you tell them that your French accent is Asian :-D

My blogname is a bit of a misnomer since I'm only one fourth Dutch.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ginnie,
Yes, you will have the breakfast option just like Vagabonde. I hope you will get a beautiful sunrise!

Relyn Lawson said...

This is fascinating, though I like the fanciful map best. You go to the most incredible places. I love that about you!! And, oh my! Your images are getting better and better.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear George,
Thank you for climbing aboard my virtual trips. I promise I will never ask you to place your liquids, gels and aerosols in a one-quart ziplock bag.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear susanna,
I wasn't planning on framing any of these photos, but I will consider it. Thank you for the suggestion.

I love books with reference maps too. The last book I read that had one was "Wicked".

Dutchbaby said...

Dear jeannette,
One of the joys of writing a blog is that it opens up the opportunity to learn so much about everything, including history.

Our cabins had black-out drapes, so sleeping at night was not a problem.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
I can stare at maps like these for hours!

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