Green fields, farms and sheep are not the first thing people usually think of as typically Greenlandic, but in Qassiarsuk, agriculture has been the way of life for over a thousand years. Qassiarsuk is one of several settlements in Southern Greenland which subsist by sheep farming since the 1960s, and the rolling meadows could easily evoke Scotland or Norway, if not for the icebergs drifting past.
Qassiarsuk lies in the heart of Norse Greenland, home of one of the most famous Norsemen of all, Eric the Red, who founded the colony in Southern Greenland around 985. Eric was fiercely pagan, but his wife Thjodhild was a devout Christian. The Sagas say that she demanded her husband build her a church; Eric refused, but Thjodhild refused to share his bed until he relented, unwittingly constructing the first church in North America, on the condition that it be out of view of his hall. Today, Eric's house and Thjodhilds church are outlines in the turf of the modern town, but extensive archaeological investigations have shown a once thriving community centred around the church.
Today, one can visit faithful reconstructions of Eric's hall and Thjodhild's church, and gain a stunning view over the fjord from the bronze statue of their son Leif Ericson (the first European to visit the North American Mainland), as well as enjoying the hospitality of the locals, who are proud of their idyllic town and its epic history. Several sites in Norse Greenland including Brattahlíð are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.