67°50′56″N 20°18′10″E

Kiruna, a short, practical name that could also be pronounced by Swedish-speaking inhabitants, means rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), a type of grouse, in Sámi and Finnish.

The area around Kiruna has been inhabited for at least 6 000 years. For centuries the presence of iron ore at Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara had been known by the local Sámi population. Despite finding large amounts of ore, no mining was started because of the remote location and harsh climate. Some ore was extracted in the 19th century.

In the 1880s plans were made to construct a railway from Narvik to Luleå. It was built by 1903. Mining started in the early years of the 20th century. It provides 80% of Europe’s iron ore.

In 2010-06 Kiruna municipal council decided that the town would be moved eastwards (to 67°51′1″N 20°18′2″E), in the direction of Tuolluvaara, because the Kirunavaara mine undermines the existing town centre. A denser city centre with a greater focus on sustainability, green and blue infrastructure, pedestrians and public transport rather than automobiles, is being constructed. We are using this last opportunity to stay in the old town.

In the old city, abandoned buildings have their windows covered up with original works of art. Some are by unidentified artists.

God Jul! = Merry Christmas! (Jul is pronounced exactly like Yule.)

Many works are by Kena Kriström (1953 – ), born in Östersund. She is especially noted for her ice sculptures in Jukkasjärvi, 20 km east of Kiruna.

Some works are by Carina Kero Esberg (1990 – ) originally from Kiruna, now living in Luleå.

Some parts of the old city have been taken over by wild animals!

Note: Today, we had to take a train replacement bus about 72 km = 1h 10m from Narvik to Björkliden. From there we took a real train about 104 km = 1h 30m to Kiruna. On the trip Alasdair used his Blue Square app. This used his Samsung phones GPS system to tell us the speed of the train. At one time it showed 99 km/h, at another 112 km/h. We also had to wait for iron ore trains to pass.

4 Replies to “Kiruna”

  1. I think I saw a documentary about this town, and how they decided to move all the buildings to a new location. I thought it was in Sweden.

  2. I like the wild animals who took over the old city 😃 😀
    The paintings from Carina Kero 🖼 are really nice. Wish you an exiting journey.
    Hilsen og klem fra Jørg

  3. Let me ask an rhetoric question: What happened with the Sami people in the area and their culture?

  4. Some comments, and even some answers to questions.

    First: some people may want to read this oldish Guardian article about Kiruna, that mentions moving the town:

    Yes, Charles this is the Swedish town that is in the process of moving. The Bishop’s Arms where we stayed will be abandoned at the end of 2024-05 (in just over two weeks).

    In the article is a photo of Kiruna with the church. It shows the hotel where we stayed. It is above the church and the gas station. Some parts of it are blue. The roof is unusual.

    Then we come to Jörg’s question about the Sami people. The article provides some answers, but probably not enough.

    Two additional weblogs about the town will be written, one about the old town and one about the new town. I just have to secure some photo rights from Alasdair.

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