Foto: Sarah Lupini

To Paris, with Love

Last month, Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral), the landmark of Tromsø, turned a respectable 50 years of age. The festivity was celebrated by organizing a great Jubilee concert in the Cathedral both on its actual “birth date”, November 19th, as well as on the following day. The concert attracted many people wanting to honour the special day, but also many who were visiting the Cathedral for the very first time.


The masterpiece that is The Arctic Cathedral was created by Norwegian architect Jan Inge Hovig on November 19, 1965. With its dignified glass façade complete with pronounced cross, and side-panels creating the unique form of the roof, the Cathedral is considered an iconic landmark in the Arctic city of Tromsø. The simplicity and splendor of the architecture is conserved throughout the interior and exterior of the building, such that what is glorious on the exterior can only be expected to be surpassed when entering the Cathedral. Large prism-shaped chandeliers hang from the high ceiling leading towards the altar and a beautiful glass mosaic on the Eastern face. The uniqueness of the modern architecture mesmerizes, so it is not surprising that The Arctic Cathedral is considered so more than just a church. It is an iconic tourist attraction, for good reason.


The 50th anniversary of The Arctic Cathedral was celebrated with the famous baroque orchestra “Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin” playing the most important work of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Great Mass in B Minor. This piece was one of Bach’s last compositions and was never performed as a whole during his lifetime. However, it is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements in classical music. For two nights, hundreds of people spent their night participating in what might be described as the mass of the year in Tromsø; more than two hours of glorious classical music in the frames of the architectural beauty of the town’s own Cathedral, Tromsdalen Church.

The Paris of the North

Tromsø received its namesake, ‘The Paris of the North’, after its hospitality and international orientation surprised visitors centuries ago. The city was found to be far more sophisticated than was expected being located so far north, hence it was compared to the cultural centre, Paris.

In November 2015, the series of violent attacks around Paris silenced the world in grief. The attacks touched many, with the world’s iconic buildings soon lit up in the colors of the French tricolor as a sign of solidarity and support for the city. One of these buildings was The Arctic Cathedral, the colours of blue, white and red coating its concrete panels.

The Arctic Cathedral is not just a landmark for Tromsø. It is a symbol of modernism and a symbol of togetherness in the new world. To Paris (of the North) with Love.

Photo: Sarah Lupini
Photo: Sarah Lupini

Text: Outi Autere