In Pictures: The Arctic Cathedral of Tromsø

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The church known as the Arctic cathedral has become an iconic symbol of Northern Norway. Read on for a visual introduction to Tromsø's most famous building.

Tromsø is a popular destination for visitors to northern Norway. Tourists flock to the city in the hope of seeing the northern lights or simply to enjoy life in one of the biggest towns above the Arctic circle.

Exterior of the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway.

The Arctic cathedral is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city. The striking building is impossible to miss across the water from the city centre. Thanks to its unique design, it is one of the most famous churches in Norway.

In this post, I’ve pulled together some images of the church—both inside and out—so those of you unable to make the trip can still experience the church. Enjoy!

Watch: The Arctic Cathedral in 60 Seconds

If you prefer to watch video, check out this quick visual tour of the church. It will take you just one minute!

I hope you enjoyed the video! Now, if you want to find out more, read on.

Introducing Tromsø

Tromsø is the biggest city for hundreds of miles around in northern Norway. In fact, after the Russian cities of Murmansk and Norilsk, it is the biggest city above the Arctic circle anywhere in the world.

The waterfront of Tromsdalen.
The Arctic Cathedral can be clearly seen from Tromsø city waterfront.

As such, Tromsø punches way above its weight in cultural events and things to do considering its small population of just 72,000. That's one of the reasons for this landmark church, which can be seen from all along the waterfront of Tromsø city.

Introducing the Arctic cathedral

It surprises many visitors to learn that the striking modern design of the church was actually completed as long ago as 1965.

Striking front of the Arctic Cathedral in Northern Norway.
The striking entrance to the church.

Despite its memorable marketing name, the Arctic cathedral is actually Tromsdalen parish church. The church puts on regular church services and hosts weddings and funerals.

Exterior of the church

The tall white triangular structure featuring a large cross and 11 aluminium-coated concrete panels.

The exterior of Tromsdalen Church, Tromsø.
The back and side of the Arctic cathedral in Tromsø.

Thanks to the brave vision of architect Jan Inge Hovig, the church has become far more than a place of worship. Today, it is an internationally recognised icon of northern Norway.

Inside the church

The interior is simple, but your attention will be drawn to the prism chandeliers and prominent colourful glass mosaic on the far wall, packed with intricate detail and symbolism.

Inside the Arctic Cathedral of Tromsø, Norway.
The glass mosaic and chandeliers inside the church.

Installed more recently, the French Romantic organ was said to be inspired by the sails on passing ships.

The organ inside Tromsø's Arctic Cathedral.
The organ of the Arctic cathedral.

There's also a small gift shop stocked with books, postcards and brochures about the church.

Visiting the Arctic cathedral

The church is open to tourists for a few hours most days, longer in the summer. But it's always worth checking in advance, as the church can be closed to tourists because of services, weddings or funerals.

The Tromsø bridge leads to the Arctic cathedral.
You can walk over the Tromsø bridge to reach the Arctic cathedral.

The best way to get to the church depends on the time of year and the weather. In the summer, walking over the bridge from the city centre is a great choice. Just be wary it will likely be windy and it’s definitely not a walk for vertigo sufferers.

All buses from the city centre that cross the bridge into Tromsdalen stop at the Arctic Cathedral. The trip takes just a few minutes and tickets are easy to buy using the Troms Fylkestrafikk website and app.

When you're looking for stops, you'll want to search for ‘Tromsdalen Bruvegen' or ‘Tromsdalen kirke'. These are the two stops either side of the church.

The striking Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway

You could also take a taxi, but as with all taxi trips short journeys are relatively pricey. But it could be an option if there’s three or four of you.

During the summer, the church puts on a midnight sun concert most nights starting at around 11pm. Originally a hobby by local musicians, the concerts quickly became one of the most popular summer attractions in Tromsø.

Have you been to the Arctic cathedral in Tromsø? What did you think?

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “In Pictures: The Arctic Cathedral of Tromsø”

  1. I want to let you know how much I enjoy your writings of Norway.
    I find a calming wrap around me as I read your stories and see your photos.
    A few years ago in March, mother and I took the long and slow cruise from the very top to the bottom inside the Fjord.
    It was wonderful. Mother is 2nd generation to USA.
    When we got to the end of our cruise we spent the last night in a hotel, furnished in a true Norwegian style. I cried. I finally felt like my soul was home.
    We are not young, mother in her 80s and me at 60 and unwell.
    We still hang on to the plan of one day returning to do an inside trip, on a train perhaps.
    Well, thank you for giving me a daily smile and keeping our dream alive to return ‘home’ one day.


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