The Northern Lights Cathedral & Sami Clothing

The Northern Lights Cathedral

The Northern Lights Cathedral

We were attending a baptism and had to go for a trip to Alta, a city in the Northern part of Norway, approximately 500 km north of the Arctic Circle.

“Alta is considered the northernmost city in the world, with a population surpassing 10,000.” (Wikipedia). In Alta they’ve built a new cathedral: The Northern Lights Cathedral – Alta Church. The new cathedral is one of 3 churches in Alta and it’s replacing the old white wooden church (Alta Kirke) that was built in 1858. The old Alta Kirke is, as far as I’ve heard, the only house in Alta that wasn’t burnt to the ground in 1945 when the Nazis fled Alta. As a natural result of this, all the houses you see in Alta today, has been built after the second world war ended in 1945.
The Northern Lights Cathedral is designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in cooperation with Link Arkitektur.

We met some Sami people when we were there and they were dressed in traditional Sami clothes called “kofte”. The ones they’re wearing are from the area Kautokeino.

Gákti is the Northern Sámi word for a piece of traditional clothing worn by the Sámi in northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The gákti is worn both in ceremonial contexts and while working, particularly when herding reindeer. The traditional Sami costume is characterized by a dominant color adorned with contrast colored bands, plaits, pewter embroidery, tin art, and often a high collar. In the Norwegian language it is called ‘kofte’, most probably due to the word “gákti” being somewhat similar to the word ‘kofte’ in the accusative, genitive, locative and comitative case (gávtti/gaftti, gávtti/gaftti, gávttis/gafttis, gávtiin/gafttijn). (ákti)

I guess you can say that both the Kofte and the Northern Lights Cathedral can be entries for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge where the theme is “treasure”. See more posts here:

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30 thoughts on “The Northern Lights Cathedral & Sami Clothing

  1. I love seeing the traditional clothing of indigenous people. These are quite spectacular outfits!
    I only recently learned of the Sami from the other North Cape blog I follow. The blogger there posted a few youtubes of Sami vocalist Sofia Jannok’s joiks and they were mesmerizing!
    Great post and pics!

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree with you: spectacular is a word that describes these outfits perfectly. I love all the beautiful details, the threads, ornaments and the vivid colours.
      Do you have a link for that blog? I’d like to see it.

  2. thank you for the history lesson – sad for me as a German, to read this – ashamed to live near the beasts – and they are still alive and acting in Germany…

  3. The Northern Lights Cathedral is spectacular!! I loved seeing the traditional costumes too. Brilliant captures, CG.

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  6. Thank you, CG for that little piece about Alta! Had anyone asked me about the northernmost town, I would have said Kirkenes.

    The cathedral is spectacular!

  7. Fab shots cardinal. The exquisite Sami attire is such a striking contrast to the contemporary new church! But I love them both 🙂

    • That’s true, they’re a contrast. Originally the Sami people had their own religion (based on shamanism), but they were forced into Christianity by the Norwegian government. The government also forbade them to speak their own language and child protective service stole their kids, placed them in foster homes and forced them to “become Norwegian”. The policy started around 1880, reached it’s peak in the 1930-50’s, and was stopped in the 1980’s.

  8. So long to get there one day Cardinal but until then, thank you so much for the stunning tour. Those costumes are magnificent and what a history to go with them . . .

  9. That cathedral looks so modern. At first look, I thought it’s some kind of a science installation until I read what it actually is. Real Cool!

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