hidden europe 33

Girls on the bridge

by hidden europe


A line of red and green Russian border-posts skirt the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo. Politicians turn and look, as do casual passers-by. It is a quiet reminder that Norway really does share a common land border with Russia.

Pikene på Broen (Girls on the Bridge) is the name of a famous painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. But it is also the name of a cultural collective operating across the Norwegian- Russian frontier on the Barents Sea coast. Run by six women, three Russian and three Norwegian, Pikene på Broen has for some years been creatively highlighting the benefits of cooperation across Europe’s most northerly land border. Norway’s common border with Russia is a shade less than two hundred kilometres long, and has just one official crossing point at Boris Gleb.

For many Norwegians, their country’s far north (and in particular the frontier region with Russia) is another world. It is a 2500 km drive from Oslo to Kirkenes. So no surprise that folk in Oslo judge Kirkenes to be on the Norwegian periphery. Pikene på Broen turn that idea on its head and recast Kirkenes as being in the very centre of things.

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Editorial hidden europe 68

In this new issue of the magazine we present articles with a focus on Sweden, France, Greece, Spain and Malta. We have a number of thematic pieces too, taking inspiration in part from rail travel which is experiencing such a welcome renaissance in many parts of Europe just now.