Kiruna - the moving town!
Kiruna is the most northerly town in Sweden, located in the county of Lapland. In the heart of the town lays Kiruna's most important asset, the Kiruna mine, which is the world's largest iron ore mine. Producing 90% of all the iron in Europe, that's enough to build more than six Eiffel Towers a day!
The current town centre of Kiruna is located on top of this mine, and recent extensions of the mine shafts have caused some areas to become unstable.
The local authorities, in conjunction with the mine owners LKAB, have come up with an ingenious solution - to move the whole town!
Over the next decade, the buildings will be moved brick by brick across 3km so as create a new town. Construction of the new town square has already begun, with a new circular town hall building designed by Danish architect Henning Larsen. It is an enormous project but reflects the importance of the mine to the local economy - without it the town could not exist, but as a result of it the town cannot exist in its current location!
The beautiful Kiruna wooden church, built in 1912 in a style recalling traditional Sami teepees and once voted Sweden's most beautiful building, will be fully dismantled, and moved to a new park location. Once there it will be remade bit by bit in exactly the same design - like a giant IKEA flat pack furniture kit!
Located 145km inside the Arctic circle, Kiruna is subject to a brutal climate, enduring winters with no sunlight and average temperatures below -15C.
The Sámi are the indigenous peoples of Lapland, and for centuries they have lived close to nature. Even though the Sámi way of life has developed along with the rest of society, their culture and traditions are still strongly present. There are eight Sámi communities in Kiruna, often working with reindeer herding within the boundaries of the respective communities.
The current town of Kiruna may not be the most aesthetically appealing city due to the mine work but it is a wonderfully friendly place. And its proximity to great stretches of hikeable wilderness, the iconic Ice hotel and the selections of winter activities makes Kiruna a fantastic place to visit!