4 churches and a funeral - Churches in Faroe Islands

A Tale Of 4 Magnificent Churches In Faroe Islands And A Funeral

Kerwin McKenzieTravel Information

4 Churches And A Funeral

I am continuing my quest to visit every country/territory, so I visited the Faroe Islands in early March. The Faroe Islands is not its own country as it’s a self-governing part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it is a territory. I’m a sucker for churches, and the capital city of Tórshavn has the Tórshavn Cathedral which I spotted just walking around the town. So let’s look at churches in Faroe Islands. Oh, the Faroese work for church is “kirkja.”

Churches of Faroe Islands

Churches of Faroe Islands

Churches In Faroe Islands

A little church history of the Faroe Islands. At the airport on the Tourism stand, they have a thick booklet names “Churches of the Faroe Islands.” I thought that was odd for a small island, but after doing some reading I realized that religion plays an important role in the Islands. The book features 11 of the islands 62 churches. The islands are primarily Protestant religion. I could actually see one of them from my hotel room, but it was way too cold and icy to take the walk up the hill to see it.

Read more about religion in the Faroe Islands.

Sandavágs kirkja

Sandavágs kirkja

Tórshavn Cathedral (Havnar Kirkja)

Location: J.Paturssonargøta 20 100 Tórshavn

The first church I visited was the Tórshavn Cathedral, a Lutheran Church. I visited it my first day here and read the notice outside the church that it’s only open for Sunday service at 11a, weddings, funerals and Thursday Devotion at 10a, so I returned the next day for Devotion since I was there on a Wednesday. Here I had a 15-minute Devotion service in the Faroese language.

The altar of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

The altar of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

Even though I understood nothing, it was an excellent service, and the music from the organ was exceptional. After the service, coffee was served in the back of the church. I was invited to join them. I only chatted as I don’t drink coffee. They all made me feel welcome, and I felt at ease.

The altar of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

The altar of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

I chatted with the female minister, who told me the organist was her husband. Noting that they are not catholic as she’s female and married, which is not allowed in the Catholic faith.

The pews of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

The pews of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

 

The massive organ of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

The massive organ of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

It was a fun experience and very spiritual experience.

Tórshavn Cathedral

Tórshavn Cathedral

 

Boat in the ceiling of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

Boat in the ceiling of the Tórshavn Cathedral, Faroe Islands

The Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

Location: Landavegur, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

The second church was another Lutheran church.

I noticed this tall building while walking near the port. I wondered what it was and kept walking toward it. Finally, I found it.

The city of Tórshavn with the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan) in the background

The city of Tórshavn with the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan) in the background

I saw the caretaker at the back of the church. Before entering, he told me that they were preparing for a funeral in less than 1.5 hours, but I could enter the church through the main entrance on the other side of the building and check out the inside, so I did.

Church in West Tórshavn (VESTURKIRKJAN)

Church in West Tórshavn (VESTURKIRKJAN)

There was also an elderly couple there with their little dog, who proceeded to smell me :).

The gentleman mentioned that the islands are predominantly Protestant, and there is one Catholic church, and foreign workers from Eastern Europe primarily attend it as they are all catholic.

The front of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan) - Churches of Faroe Islands

The front of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

I said goodbye to them and pushed the tall doors to enter the church. In the foyer, they displayed the deceased’s funeral programs. I noticed he was born in 1931 and died only three days ago on the 6th.

I pushed the inner church door and was not expecting to see his coffin at the altar with wreaths laid out.

The Altar of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

The Altar of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

Right behind me were well-wishers ready for the funeral. They took photos of the coffin and the floral arrangements.

A few minutes later, a delivery guy brought in more flowers.

I tried to casually take some photos of the church’s inside without the coffin, but it felt weird.

So I left.

The organ of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

The organ of the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

As I did, more well-wishers arrived. A part of me wanted to stay as you learn a lot about a culture through funerals, but the other side felt I would be intruding.

The view from this church is spectacular. You can also see all of Tórshavn from here with a clear 360 degree view. it was cold and breathtaking. The frozen pond in front of the church was also very misleading as it seems like you could walk on it since it was covered in snow; but you couldn’t.

Pond in front of the Western Church in Tórshavn

Pond in front of the Western Church in Tórshavn

 

View of the village near the Western Church in Torshavn Faroe Islands

View of the village near the Western Church in Torshavn Faroe Islands

 

The view of the port of Tórshavn from the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

The view of the port of Tórshavn from the Church of Western Tórshavn (Vestur-Kirkjan)

 

City Church Tórshavn

Location: Tróndargøta 36 100 Tórshavn

As I walked back towards the center of Tórshavn, I saw another church, City Church; it was closed, though. No adventures today :-). It was just like any other building on the main road. It didn’t really look like a traditional church.

City Church, Tórshavn Faroe Islands

City Church, Tórshavn Faroe Islands

 

City Church, Tórshavn Faroe Islands

City Church, Tórshavn Faroe Islands

St. Mary’s Church (Mariukirkjan)

Location: Mariugøta 4 100 Tórshavn

Later, the lady at the Tourism Board in the town center told me where the only Catholic church was. I could spot it from the 1874 lookout monument as I gazed upon the city from this perch. If you come to Tórshavn, you must go up here and take a look. But I digress.

The city of Tórshavn, Faroe Islands seen from the 1874 Monument

The city of Tórshavn, Faroe Islands seen from the 1874 Monument

After battling the winds and the cold and heading back to my hotel for some much-needed rest and warmth, I was able to locate the St. Mary’s Church on Google Maps and decided to go back and check it out after my hot tub and sauna moment at the hotel. As a Hilton Diamond member, I get free breakfast and a complimentary hour in the sauna, all by my lonesome. Note that the entrance to the sauna is outside!

Hilton Hotel Sauna in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Hilton Hotel Sauna in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

At about 6p, I layered up and headed out. It’s like 2C/35F out with a windchill, so it felt well below freezing.

Street in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Street in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

I used Google Maps to find the place, so I missed the turnoff paths twice. You see, it snowed, so the paths were snowed over 🙂 and I was following a local, thinking she knew where she was going. She did :-). She wasn’t going where I was going, though.

Eventually, I found the place nestled above a snow-covered park with children’s games.

St. Mary's Church (Catholic) Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

St. Mary’s Church (Catholic) Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

As I walked around, I saw notices of the service times and realized that I missed the 5:30p mass, so everything was closed again. The Masses are not held in the main church, though, but in a hall next to it in a separate building. Dejected, I took more photos and left as it was getting dark.

St. Mary's Church (Mariukirkjan)

St. Mary’s Church (Mariukirkjan)

 

Entrance to St. Mary's Church in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Entrance to St. Mary’s Church in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

 

St. Mary's Church (Catholic) Tórshavn

St. Mary’s Church (Catholic) Tórshavn

 

St. Mary's Church (Mariukirkjan)

St. Mary’s Church (Mariukirkjan)

I found the path Google suggested, except in the reverse direction. I slid down the icy path, wondering how I would have been able to ascend it had I come from the other direction.

As I crossed the snow-covered path next to the equally snow-covered playground, I could see the faint trail Google had directed me to and missed.

Path from St. Mary's Church (Mariukirkjan)

I used it to exit the area, stepping gingerly as it was pretty icy. Before long, I was back on the main road and returned to my hotel, stopping at the gas station to pick up some mint ice cream. Ice cream is so much better when it’s cold.

Gas station in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Gas station in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Where To Stay If You Go?

I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, just a 20 to 30 minutes walk from the town of Torshavn. But you can stay at VRBO properties as well as other hotels including the Hotel Brandan which is very close to the Hilton and the Hotel Hafnia in the city itself. Here is a map to help you when you go.

 

 

Hotel Brandan, Torshavn Faroe Islands

Hotel Brandan, Torshavn Faroe Islands

 

Hotel Hafnia, Torshavn Faroe Islands

Hotel Hafnia, Torshavn Faroe Islands

Summary

It was quite the adventure, and I was glad I had a chance to explore these four distinctly different churches in the Faroe Islands.

Torshavn Cathedral Faroe Islands - Churches in Faroe Islands

Torshavn Cathedral Faroe Islands

Do you explore churches when you travel? What have you found? Leave a comment below.

Some Tours if You Go