Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Torshavn (pronounced Torshawn) is named for the Norse god Thor.  It means Thor’s harbour. It is said to be one of the smallest capital cities in the world. I have a photo of the downtown area seen from the ship that pretty much makes the case.  Forty-eight thousand people inhabit the 18 islands and 18000 of them live in or around Torshavn. The language, Faroese, is thought to be the original language of the Vikings who settled in these islands, which are east of the Shetlands, in about 800 CE. The islands are mostly self governing, though they use the Danish Kroner and Denmark looks after defence and foreign affairs as well as providing courts of appeal in legal matters. The Prime Minister’s house and government buildings sit on a small promontory in the harbour known as the Tinganes where the original, and world’s oldest, parliament opened in 1380 (photo.) The Parliament buildings are now situated elsewhere.  Today, I took a tour out into the countryside to see an old farmstead and church (photos). The buildings date from 1820. The land is still farmed but the farmers live in modern houses.  We also visited another church built in 1837 entirely from wood imported from Norway (photos.) The scenery en route was beautiful if stark (photo.) There are no trees on these islands except for those grown in sheltered locations beside houses.  The scenery is mostly barren hillsides where sheep and the odd horse graze.  There are a few farms (photo) and the islands are self sufficient in dairy products though the cattle are mostly kept in barns.  There are many fjords on these islands and all villages but one are by the seaside, mostly in the fjords (photo.)  Fishing is a major industry and we saw some fish farms in the fjords ( photo). All but one of the islands are connected by bridges or tunnels.  There are 16 tunnels on the islands but only four traffic lights!  Today was a typical summer day – cloudy and 12 degrees C. There were very few people around because most people who aren’t working, take a couple of weeks vacation and take the ferry to Denmark for a (warmer) summer holiday in Europe. In town I visited the old area and I have a couple of photos of old wooden houses with turf roofs. Tomorrow we will visit Seydisfjordur, Iceland.

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