Day 12 |
Sep 05, 2013

Nuuk, Greenland

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 64º10', W 051º43'
Weather: Rainy
Air Temperature: 7ºC, 44ºF
Pressure: 996 hPa
Wind: 25 knots

After a very bumpy night in what I could describe as perhaps the roughest sea conditions we have had this whole summer, I was happy to see Silver Explorer coming alongside in Nuuk. We spent the entire day yesterday sailing across the Davis Strait as we came from Canada to Greenland. As the night progressed the weather conditions worsened and by midnight we had 7 metres waves and 43 knots of wind. Rock n’ Roll baby!

So we came into port a couple hours later than expected and just before 11am the ship had been cleared by the local authorities. Our guests were then free to take the shuttle into town for some free time and self-exploration of the city.

Nuuk, which means “the heartland” (Danish: Godthåb) is the capital and largest city in Greenland. It is the seat of the government as well as the country’s largest cultural and economic centre. The area around Nuuk was first occupied by the ancient pre-Inuit, Paleo-Eskimo people of the Saqqaq culture as far back as 2200 BC. It was also occupied by the Dorset culture that disappeared from the area by 1000 AD. This region was also inhabited by Viking explorers in the 10th century and shortly thereafter by Inuit peoples.

After lunch, and divided into four groups, our guests left on walking tours of this fascinating city. Our leisurely (and wet) walk through this picturesque harbour city took us through different buildings and monuments.

First we stopped at the City Hall for a visit to the courthouse. We had a chance to admire some beautiful art in the form of a series of large tapestry pieces that took 19 years to complete and that depict the paintings of some famous Greenlandic artist with one of those unpronounceable names. The art pieces represented different historic moments in Greenland’s history as well as commonplace scenes of day-to-day life in the world’s largest island.

We then moved on to the Cultural Centre and then to the Parliament. At the Parliament we were greeted by the person responsible for communications at this office and he gave us an interesting insight into the politics of Greenland. From there we moved on to the Church of Our Saviour, a beautiful Lutheran church standing on a hill overlooking the ocean. I love Greenlandic Churches, they are quaint, colourful and they all have model ships hanging from the ceiling, attesting to the strong maritime vocation of the Greenlandic people.

The last stop of the tour was the Greenlandic National Museum, an absolutely spectacular little museum, well organized and with some fascinating displays on a variety of topics, particularly pertaining to the people and their lives and traditions. The highlight of this museum was without a doubt the Qilakitsoq mummies. In 1972 a group of 7 mummified bodies were discovered in a cave and the low temperatures and the wind had preserved them remarkably well since their burial at this site in 1470.

This was my second visit to Nuuk and I cannot wait to come back. What an interesting place.