hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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The church at Svanvik asserts Norwegian authority and identity in a region that borders onto Russia (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley
  

Few borders divide societies which are so markedly different as the frontier between Norway's easternmost county of Finnmark and Russia's Murmansk Oblast. We take a look at life on both sides of the border in a region which was once a key part of ...
This installation on the shores of the Barents Sea recalls witch burnings in Vardø (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The witches of Varanger
  

The 17th-century witchcraft trials in Finnmark are recalled in a striking new memorial on the shores of the Barents Sea. hidden europe visited the memorial which is pictured on the front cover of this issue of hidden ...
The Arctic port of Vardø on Norway's Varanger Peninsula – where the locals are keen to proclaim the merits of cod! (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Nansen trail

  • 12 Sep 2014
A recent visit to the Arctic port of Vardø, on an island off the eastern extremity of the Varanger Peninsula, prompts us to reflect on Fridtjof Nansen’s visit to the same place in 1893. Nansen arrived in Vardø on the Fram. It was the ship's last ...
The Titovka roadside café is a welcome spot to have a coffee and enjoy a break from the road. It is located on the E105 to Murmansk in the north-west corner of the Russian Federation (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Tales from Titovka

  • 5 Sep 2014
Everyone stops at Titovka sooner or later. That's the way things are up here in the far north-west corner of Russia. The Titovka roadside café is on the highway that runs west from Murmansk towards the mining towns of Zapolyarny and ...
Letter from Europe

A polar travel centenary

  • 10 Jan 2014
The Arctic has been much on our minds of late. Today we mark the centenary of an epic moment in polar travel. One hundred years ago today, the Karluk was wrecked in the Chukchi Sea. The ship set off from Vancouver Island in June 1913 on a voyage to ...
Letter from Europe

The Chelyuskin epic

  • 5 Jan 2014
As Russian families gather today to celebrate Christmas (which in Orthodox Europe falls later than in the Roman calendar), they will be inclined - like families everywhere in the world - to look back to Christmas tales from yesteryear. There is ...
Ports in northern Norway are looking to challenge Murmansk (pictured here), the Russian port on the Barents Sea coast (photo © Tupungato / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

New ports for the Far North
  

The harbour front at Kirkenes could be transformed if the Norwegian port became a major transit point for freight to and from Russia. The key to this happening is getting Russian-gauge railway tracks to Kirkenes. But other ports in northern Norway ...
Letter from Europe

Hidden europe 39

  • 8 Mar 2013
Wilderness is a wonderful thing. The American illustrator and writer Rockwell Kent understood how wilderness tugs at the soul: "I crave snow-topped mountains, dreary wastes, and the cruel Northern sea with its hard horizons," he wrote. Yes, we know ...
Magazine article

Brand power
  

The number of Russians making cross-border journeys into northern Scandinavia to go shopping leapt by over a third last year. They head for small towns in northern Finland and some even continue into Sweden to visit the world's northernmost branch ...
Magazine article

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

In July 1893, a remarkable chance encounter took place at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island in the Franz Josef archipelago. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his companion Fredrik Johansen, who had failed to reach the North Pole, bumped in ...
Letter from Europe

The train to Tundra

  • 31 Jul 2012
Year by year, the population of Obozersky dwindles. Fifty years ago, more than 7000 people lived in this little town in the Russian Arctic. More than half have left. They took the train south and never returned. The cream and brown railway station ...
This modest building is a reminder of the Norwegian presence in Myggbukta on the east coast of Greenland. From June 1931 until April 1933, Myggbukta affected to bethe capital of Eirik Raudes Land (photo © Ole-Chr. Røren).
Magazine article

Viking voyages: Eirik Raudes Land
  

For a brief period in the early 1930s, the Norwegian flag fluttered over two remote settlements in eastern Greenland: Myggbukta and Antarctichavn. This is the story of Eirik Raudes Land (Erik the Red Land), an upstart territory named in honour of ...
Letter from Europe

Ramadan in the Far North

  • 1 Aug 2011
Ramadan, the annual month of prayer and fasting for the world's Muslim population, is just starting, so it is worth sparing a thought for Muslims who live in Europe's northern regions. To refrain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset is a ...
Magazine article

An Arctic outpost: Victoria Island
  

The story of Victoria Island, a tiny fleck of land in the European Arctic midway between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, is a reminder that there are better ways of conducting international diplomacy than leaving a message in a ...
Letter from Europe

Polar nights in Spitsbergen

  • 9 Feb 2011
It was unusually warm in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen this past Sunday. The temperature peaked at minus 7 degrees Celsius. And the jazz helped give Longyearbyen a more temperate ring last weekend as the remote Arctic community, capital of the ...
Letter from Europe

Vadsø (northern Norway)

  • 24 Nov 2009
You really know you have travelled a long way east when you get to Vadsø. The local church, which dominates the small town on the Barents Sea, is a late 1950s essay in poured concrete. But take a peek inside for a surprise. This is a Norwegian ...
Magazine article

Norway by plane
  

A small Norwegian airline called Widerøe operates flights into some of Europe's remotest communities. The company's Explore Norway Ticket allows travellers to hop from one small airport to ...
Letter from Europe

Crossing the border at Boris Gleb

  • 10 Jun 2009
Boris and Gleb are as saintly a duo as Peter and Paul or Cyril and Methodius. Travel round Russia and you will come across no end of churches dedicated to Boris and Gleb. The two were in fact brothers and evidently their tender humility marked the ...
Magazine article

Svalbard links

For travellers with their ice axes and crampons at the ready, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) is about to come a whole lot closer, with a Norwegian budget airlines offering flights in 2008 to the Arctic ...
Letter from Europe

Spitsbergen and the Italia rescue

  • 19 Jul 2008
Not so many St Petersburg visitors make it over to Vasilievsky Island which sits fair and square in the Neva delta. Those that do stick in the main to the eastern end of the island with the old St Petersburg stock exchange. This is a building of ...
Letter from Europe

Swiss spring

  • 14 May 2008
May Day may still be more than a fortnight away, but Zürich takes time out today for an early spring festival. Rain looks set to put a dampener on this year's Sechseläutern. This is a peculiarly Swiss occasion. The name refers to the "six o'clock ...
Letter from Europe

Europe's nerve ends

  • 21 Aug 2007
The places at the end of Europe are always interesting. Driving through Iceland's northeast corner, you really have a sense of touching the nerve ends of the continent. The most northerly point on the Icelandic mainland, called Hraunhafnartangi, ...
Letter from Europe

The wandering Arctic Circle

  • 29 Apr 2007
Capital cities are hardly regular hidden europe territory but Stockholm would surely be a firm contender if ever we were pressed to pinpoint our favourite European capital. Others that would certainly make it onto the shortlist would be Luxembourg ...
Letter from Europe

North Cape (Norway)

  • 6 Nov 2006
The experience of driving through the world's longest road tunnel is one to remember. At over 24 km long (more than 15 miles), the Lærdalstunnelen linking Aurland and Lærdal in western Norway is more than twice as long as the Mont Blanc Tunnel that ...
Letter from Europe

The 'other' Channel Islands (France) - the Barents Sea

  • 11 Nov 2005
As always at this time of year, the calm of winter isolation has settled on the Iles Chausey. Most of the population have shuttered up their houses and left Chausey for the mainland. Only the real chausias remain, less than a dozen in number. The ...
Letter from Europe

Ny-Ålesund (Spitsbergen) - Sealand update

  • 27 Apr 2005
Spring may have eclipsed winter here at hidden europes Berlin home, but elsewhere across our continent conditions are very different. Across a large part of inland southern Spain this afternoon, temperatures topped 30ºC, yet this morning at ...