Vardø is basically located at the end of the world. Even the clouds today have the layout to confirm this statement, they rest like a kettle lock above this arctic fisher town and it’s 2000 and some inhabitants.
It’s like the car passes over from a land bathing in the evening sun beneath distant pink clouds into a shadowy world of brown hills and grey grass. There are no trees. Reindeer run across the road from time to time.
You don’t see a lot of people. Urban winds have reached this rural place though. Hidden though town you can spot several murals, graffiti and other displays of creativity.
Pøbel (probably the most famous Norwegian street artist ever) invited several leading street artists from around the world to Vardø back in 2012. They arranged the art festival called «Komafest». I guess the goal was to wake Vardø back to life with graffiti. I hope they come back to repeat it someday.
Vardø’s history is rich and full of dark chapters. Vardøhus fortress was built in the 13th century. The place would witness some of Europe’s biggest witch trials 300 years later.
Almost one hundred people were burned for dancing with the devil under a full moon, learning dark arts from black cats and drinking bewitched beer…
Today you can read their stories at Steilneset Witch Monument where a light shines for every victim of the witch hunt.
Another noteworthy thing about Vardø:
It’s a senter for top secret NATO-activity.
See those balls in the skyline?
They are radars, Globus I and II.
A third one is being built as you read this. A Russian Bitcoin Factory will soon open it’s doors as one of the closest neighbors to this new radar. American army families are moving into town, according to local media. A lot seems to be going on under the surface here. One of the houses facing the only road leading from the tunnel which connects this arctic island to Norwegian mainland, may very well be recording all comings and goings to town. I have a rich imagination and can’t help feeling watched, although I’m not sure if it’s the spies or the witches who are behind it.
What I am sure about is that Vardø is an inspiring place. It makes you want to think and write and paint.
I’ll be back.