The name Klaksvik has a special ring to it in Denmark. It may be the second biggest city on the Faroe Islands – but it is also used to be considered like backwater and the most remote part of the Danish land back in the 18th and 19th century. Sure the Danish Virgin Island (now US Virgin Islands) were further away – but the rich sugar trade meant these colonies were actually a center of wealth and the main city on the Virgin islands were actually the second biggest city in Denmark back then. So Klaksvik was considered the worst backwater in the Kingdom of Denmark – devoid from any culture of note.
The story goes Klaksvik was used as a dumping ground of disgraced civil servants. Back in the day a top level could only be fired if he did something criminal – if he just made a mess administrating his department of the government he would get a new assignment. The worst possible assignment supposedly was the job as Stiftamtmand in Klaksvik – which would be the king’s representative in the city. To get assigned to this backwater was the worst possible punishment.
Having heard about Klaksvik for years I was a bit curious to actually see what the town was like in reality. We get down to the city which is centered on a pretty big harbor for a town of only 5,000 people. The life up here on these islands has been centered on the water forever – the people depended on the ocean for their livelihood and this is still the case for most of the communities outside Torshavn.
Most of the Faroe Islands are hilly – and most of the towns are stretch out along the shore – or climbing up the hills to make room for more houses. Klaksvik is different the area where the city is located is some of the flattest land on the Faroe Islands so the houses doesn’t have climb up the hill they are just hanging around the low land around the harbor.
The city has a big church which is the most eye-catching building in the city. And there are several statues around the town. So there are a few minor attractions – but the cities of the islands really aren’t what attract visitors up here.
We haven’t had lunch yet and it is getting a bit late – so we decide it is high time to search for a restaurant to have lunch. And considering we are in the second biggest city of the islands it should be an easy task to find a place to eat. Surprisingly it turns out it is very hard to find somewhere to eat. There supposedly is a couple of restaurants and cafes – there should be one down at the harbor – but it is closed either permanently or for a long time during a renovation of the building it was located in. we find another restaurant – which is closed. After a bit of a search of the small center of the city we have to give up – the only place to find something to eat seems to be the gas station down at the harbor.
The city has grown a lot during the last hundred years – but after our problem finding a place to eat I guess it is still a bit of a backwater. And I can see why it was considered a punishment to get an assignment to this place a hundred years ago when the town was much smaller than it is today. At least we can get back to Torshavn and have dinner if we drive through the underwater tunnel connecting Klaksvik to the other islands.