The Arctic Cathedral’s strikingly modern glass-and-aluminum facade and daring angular planes form a much-loved landmark in Tromso. With an appearance distinct from that of most churches, it dominates the city’s skyline and is visible from the Tromso Sound, the Tromso Bridge, and the sky when arriving by airplane.
Contrary to its name, the Arctic Cathedral (aka Tromsdalen Church, or Ishavskatedralenis), in fact, a church. Its dramatic design, which resembles triangular blocks of ice—although some people suggest sails or a lavvu (a typical Sami dwelling)—is the work of innovative Norwegian architect Jan Inge Hovig, who completed it in 1965. The structure glitters with mosaics and a glass facade adorned with a massive cross. The stark interior’s oak pews and simple pulpit are totally overshadowed by the multicolored glass mosaic Return of Christ, completed by Victor Sparre in 1972, which at 75 feet (23 meters) in height, dominates the eastern end of the nave.
Guided tours of Tromso often include a visit to the Arctic Cathedral. You can book a group or private tour and travel by foot or bicycle, or even take in the view from the water while on an RIB (rigid inflatable boat) tour of the fjords. In summer, concerts are held under the midnight sun. They are popular so book tickets online in advance.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Arctic Cathedral is a must-visit for those with an interest in Scandinavian architecture and design.
- A functioning (and busy) parish church, the Arctic Cathedral holds regular services and can close at short notice for weddings and funerals.
- The admission fee increases if a concert taking place. For many visitors, the view of the exterior is the most impressive.
- The church is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Located at Hans Nilsens vei 41, the Arctic Cathedral is just over the Tromso Bridge, about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the city center.
When to Get There
The Arctic Cathedral’s opening hours vary throughout the year. Generally it is open for a few hours every afternoon, but all day in the summer months. The ideal time to visit is summer, when the church’s white edifice sparkles in the midnight sun. Winter is also attractive, offering the picturesque sight of the church gleaming under its floodlit blanket of snow.
A Legendary Concert Venue
Thanks to its outstanding acoustics and the superb organ placed here in 2005, the Arctic Cathedral has become one of Tromso’s favorite—and certainly its most atmospheric—concert venues. More than 500 classical recitals and folk concerts are held here each year, including stirring midnight performances of traditional music in winter—aptly named the Northern Lights Concerts.