Kirkjubour, religous and cultural center of Foroyar.....in the middle of nowhere!

Kirkjubour Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 28 › view all entries
A beautiful colt psing for his picture.

I woke up later than I wanted but, the weather wears you down. I needed the rest. I ate a little breakfast. I bought some to keep in the room as I seem to be unable to make the breakfast times at the guesthouse.

 

Even though the weather wasn’t the best….a theme here, I wanted to go to Kirkjubor. Due to winter transport times dwindling down to only a 6am bus and a 5pm bus to kirkjubour, I would have to take the bus to Gamlaraett (the ferry point) and hike back up and around the mountain to get to it. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

 

I’d been getting groceries for two days at a time and it was time. I headed out to do this but remembered something else that had to be handled.

Village center

 

I had seen in the in-flight magazine for Atlantic Airways that a concert of Icelandic and Faroese music was being held at a museum venue called The Nordic House. I thought that it would be an opportunity to experience some of the culture, whatever that may be. I had no idea of what to expect but, this is an adventure, right! I tried to buy online and needed a printer, which I didn’t have. I went to the tourist information center and they were able to sell me the ticket. It was on the front row in the center section. It seems that they were saving it for me.

 

Ticket secured, I went in search of a grocery store. I had been to two different ones, thus far, and they weren’t very near. I remembered that there should be one near the guesthouse. I walked around the neighborhood for a good 15 minutes…no luck. I went back to the room and looked at the map again; it should be a block away.

This is a great 360 degree view of the village. You'll have to forgive the water and debris that blow onto the lens........this is The Faroes!
After walking down the same street in front of the guesthouse, again, I realized that all of this time it was next door. I had only seen garden supplies and plants on the end of the building that my window faces. I assumed that they were a garden store. Oh well, I picked some staples and goodies for a couple of days.

 

I had a bit of early lunch to prepare for my expected energy usage and then it was time to head to the terminal. I passed a school of some sort with interesting art out front, very colorful.

 

As I usually do I walked to fast and made it to the terminal with a 20 minute wait. It really wasn’t very far from the guesthouse.

 

The bus arrives, I get on with a lady and a young guy and off we go.

The condition of the cathedral in 1970
Kirkjubour is only about 20 minutes away on the southwestern end of the island so the journey would be short.

 

The bus driver was nice enough to ask if I was going to the ferry to Sandoy or walking to Kirkjabour. He said he would let me off at the turnoff for Kirkjubour, which is before the long descent down the mountain. GREAT!

 

We were there so quickly; I was surprised when he looked back at me, giving me the sign that this was my stop. I thanked him and got off the bus.

 

The lady got off with me as well. She was on her way to visit her mother.

The cathedral with weather protection, today.
She was from Kirkjubour but lived in Torshavn. She said that she loved here village but needed more activity around her. We talked about the islands and the culture and her favorite places. She had just returned from a month in Suduroy and suggested it highly.

 

We walked along a steady incline of a road / path leading around the mountain to the southwestern coast. We passed a couple of waterfalls. They are becoming so normal to see, I always look at them.

 

We approached the beginnings of the village and there are sheep grazing in the fields along the coastline. There are some geese as well.

I can see in the distance six or seven houses on the lower section of the mountain at field level and a maybe 6 or so on the upper path with a lookout view.

There were even 2 houses under construction, a huge thing for this tiny community. They were being made from wood, a premium material, as it is all imported. Someone has some money.

 

She said that there were around 50 people who lived in the village but, only 8 families.

 

We part ways as we had reached her mother’s house. We said our good-byes and she wished me well, on my travels.

 

I continued down the road and enjoyed the soaring mountains to my left and the dramatic coastline on the right. Out in the water, just off the coast was a tiny flat island; she said that kids play on it in the summer and that she had as a child. She said that they only had nature for enjoyment as children so; they climbed the mountains and swim in the water.

Viking detail on former Bishop's palace
They would tease the animals and even climb the walls of the 800 year old church. Her mother was not happy about the last one.

 

I met up with a ragged looking short cream colored horse with her little one. It was sitting there waiting to be photographed. The mother couldn’t be bothered.

 

Reaching the oldest part of the village, with its Viking age buildings, I was excited. I was looking back and forth like a crazy person. I was first looking for this amazing Viking door and the house it was attached to. The 800 year old cathedral ruins were there somewhere as well.

 

Kirkjubour, with its stunning backdrop of the sea from one side or the majestic mountains on the other looks to be idyllic.

Chapel in side of the Cathedral

 

It was such a fantastic thing to see and today was great day for it. I was the only tourist in town. I had the place to myself. That isn’t an often happening with most places that I travel. I could study and poke and meander as I wanted.

 

I first continued walking along the ascending mountain coastal road to get a great view of the city. I couldn’t seem to find the cathedral ruins. I knew from the photos and postcards where it should be but, I was not able to find it.

 

I headed back into the village and spotted the first landmark that I was interested in. It’s a three story home, not usual in this area. It has a stone base and the usual black tar walls with red painted trim and turf room.

Emblem on a barn
It had an arched front door….so very quaint.  There was a stone fence in front with a red picket gate.

 

Near this, I see a sign with information about the cathedral. There is conservation work being done on it. But, where is it???

 

I had seen this stone and black building, something ugly and passed it off as a factory or workshop no longer used. After reading the sign, I realized that it was the cathedral. OMG! I was so surprised and so disappointed. They showed a picture of its condition in 1970 and another in 2001. They had done much to preserve and even rebuild part of it. Evidently that still wasn’t enough to secure it so; in 2002 they erected a weather protection device covering shell of the building. The only roof added was in a small chapel.

 

I looked to my right and there it was the wonderfully colored Viking house (Roykstovan) with “the door”.

Lower level of Bishop's palace with Viking painted column (repainted in 1950s)
I have a thing for doors of the many places that I’ve visited. This one will be one of the very special ones for its design and it dramatic color. It has red and turquoise blue, with griffins on the columns and Viking designs on the archway. The crest on the center of the arch is a lion on his hind legs and an axe in his front paws. This was the Bishop’s palace and has been the home of farmers for centuries and has been occupied by the same Foroyar family for 17 generations. The home is of split log design and is said to have been built from logs that drifted all the way from Norway, some 700 years ago.

 

During the Middle Ages, Kirkjubour was the religious and cultural center of Foroyar. The St. Magnus Cathedral, which stands in ruins, was begun along with the Roykstovan in the late13th century in the style of the best West Norwegian Gothic architecture of the time. A great avalanche in 1772 severely damaged it, crushing the northeast corner of the building.

Along the coast of Kirkjubour
The existing parish church is the only Medieval church still in use and is thought to be older than St. Magnus. The church was surrounded be a churchyard but, much of the land between Kirkjubour and the islet of Kirkuboholmur has been eroded by the sea. It now stands at the water’s edge.

 

I really enjoy unique details in architecture and design so, I couldn’t help myself but, after analyzing the Roykstovan’s details to death, I moved on.

 

I decided to inspect the interior of St. Magnus. With this eyesore of a protective device, it’s hard to see much beauty in the structure. You are able to see several intricately carved stones with in the walls. It is easy to see how dramatic this structure was and will be without the “black jacket”. The mountains behind and the sea in front…….too cool! I did go into the little chapel in the back with does now have a protective cover.

Stained glass cross on church gate
You can see some of the arch details still visible. Around back there was another stone detail to be discovered.

 

I walked the village, meandering (while being blown around like a piece of paper) between the houses, checking out the boat sitting on the jetty, and trying to determine what the low stone structures are, on the little island. Now and then, a waterfall would come pouring down from above and continue to make its way to the sea.

 

I decided to continue up the trail that ascended and continued the trek around the end of the mountain. There must be great views from there. As I walked, the amount of …..dung……sheep, horse, and I don’t know what else, was crazy. It was everywhere. It was mostly sheep and a lot of it! It seems that they must poo all of the time, given how much was on my path.

 

The farther away I got and higher I climbed, the view became even more spectacular.

A bit of the village viewed from the jetty
The colors in the water, amazing, the dramatic cliffs and the mountains behind….quite a setting. The little white church by the sea looking ever so lonesome. After hiking quite a distance up the path, I decided to head down. I could see a storm coming and I didn’t want to be up there when it hit.

 

I walked through town one last time and then took the path along the water down to the point. There was an interesting sea grass that fascinated me. It reminded me of sea oats in Florida but the blades were very brown, instead. On the way, I passed a little flower and herb garden that someone had planted. I wondered how they would survive.

 

There was so much seaweed in the water. I could see it as large dark area from the mountains but below it looked like marsh land.

 

As I got closer to the point I figured out that the little hill was not a little hill.

View of the village from much farther up the mountain path.
It was an ancient stone house with a turf roof. What a sight, just like in a postcard.

 

I could feel the spitting start so; I decided to try to head out of town and down the mountain to Gamlaraett, the ferry point where the bus would pick me up. I had gotten myself to a place where the only way out was the way that I came. It was just up the hill from me but, it was someone’s property and they had sheep grazing. So, I went the long way and just walked fast. By the time I made it up the hill to the road, the rain came. I walked fast but, it just kept getting harder and the wind didn’t help. The whole back side of my jeans were soaked and it had only been a few minutes. I still had to get to the drop off point and then make my way down the mountain to the sea….aarrgghh.

 

Ok, so I walked and got wet! That’s enough of that.

Carved stone on the back of the cathedral
I started my descent to the ferry point and the basalt cliffs were amazing……of course a waterfall here and there. I felt of the water, it was cold but, not very. I was surprised.

 

Around the last curve before the bottom, someone has placed a large Foroyar flag next to an especially beautiful waterfall.

 

At the bottom was a little building with at toilet and a waiting room. That was the only structure there!!! I was thankful for both as I needed a toilet and a dry place. The waiting room smelled bad but, I opened the window to get some fresh air.

 

 While waiting, I wrote out the postcards that I was sending and listened to music on my ipod.

Ancient low stone house with turf roof on a little isthmus.
By the time I was finished the bus was here.

 

Upon getting on, I was reunited with my new friend with whom I walked to the village. She was headed back to Torshavn, also. I guess a little bit of the village was enough for her! We chatted on the way back. She told me that the protective device on the cathedral ruins was due to acid rain and the salt (from the sea) and wind. The degradation of the mortar had gotten severe. There was concern that it would just tumble into the sea, someday soon. They would remove it soon to see if their repairs had helped. I mentioned my concert that evening and she told me that it should be very enjoyable. She said that she loved the Nordic house’s unique structure and the culture and art that it brought to Torshavn.

 

Oh, one more thing that she had told me.

On the road down to Gamlaerett - a waterfall with the flag of Fororyar to the right.
There is a test that has been going on for 20 years. The Foroyar government has planted a grove of trees to test their ability to survive. It hasn’t gone well. There’s a reason that there are no real trees on the islands, the wind destroys them. That is what keeps happening here. They keep replacing them but, it does not bode well for future groves on other islands. She said that one year’s trees destruction resulted in the material for wood floors in her art gallery….at least they didn’t go to waste.

 

 

delsol67 says:
You said it!!! It is like I was removed from this planet and left to wander a new planet.....seriously! I was GREAT!
Posted on: Nov 06, 2009
Jeroenadmiraal says:
it must be a weird but awesome experience to be on the faroe islands
Posted on: Nov 06, 2009
Chokk says:
But Beautiful!
Posted on: Nov 01, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
A beautiful colt psing for his pic…
A beautiful colt psing for his pi…
Village center
Village center
This is a great 360 degree view o…
The condition of the cathedral in …
The condition of the cathedral in…
The cathedral with weather protect…
The cathedral with weather protec…
Viking detail on former Bishops p…
Viking detail on former Bishop's …
Chapel in side of the Cathedral
Chapel in side of the Cathedral
Emblem on a barn
Emblem on a barn
Lower level of Bishops palace wit…
Lower level of Bishop's palace wi…
Along the coast of Kirkjubour
Along the coast of Kirkjubour
Stained glass cross on church gate
Stained glass cross on church gate
A bit of the village viewed from t…
A bit of the village viewed from …
View of the village from much fart…
View of the village from much far…
Carved stone on the back of the ca…
Carved stone on the back of the c…
Ancient low stone house with turf …
Ancient low stone house with turf…
On the road down to Gamlaerett - a…
On the road down to Gamlaerett - …
Artwork in front of a School in To…
Artwork in front of a School in T…
A house in the village with an isl…
A house in the village with an is…
houses along the coast
houses along the coast
A waterfall on the north side of t…
A waterfall on the north side of …
Ancient homes of Kirkjubour
Ancient homes of Kirkjubour
Looking down from the mountain roa…
Looking down from the mountain ro…
Along the road through the village
Along the road through the village
Heading south and up the mountain
Heading south and up the mountain
Looking south long the shore
Looking south long the shore
The beautiful rocky shore and the …
The beautiful rocky shore and the…
What had previously been a firepla…
What had previously been a firepl…
The cathedral in 2001
The cathedral in 2001
Bishops Palace former front door.
Bishop's Palace former front door.
What an amazing door, colors and d…
What an amazing door, colors and …
Crest atop the door casing
Crest atop the door casing
Across the village center tooking …
Across the village center tooking…
Waterfall on the road from Kirkjub…
Waterfall on the road from Kirkju…
Kirkjubour
photo by: davidx