Qassiarsuk and Viking Ruins

Qassiusak 7358 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 35 mm, f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

The morning after the Greenland marathon, we had an informative tour of Qassiarsuk, Greenland by our guide Ester.  We learned a lot about this village of 89 inhabitants that also hosts a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The buildings of the town were painted a variety of the primary colors and signified the function of the building (hospitals were yellow).

Qassiusak 7355 August 19, 2018

Image: Leif Ericsson statue and Qassiarsuk, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 35 mm, f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

We climbed up a hill to visit this statue of Leif Eriksson (Erik the Red’s son) that overlooks the village and Eriksfjord, or Tunulliarfik fjord, as it is known nowadays.  We descended the hill behind the statue to visit the Brattahlid viking ruins that make up the World Heritage site.  Here we saw actual ruins from buildings built when Erik the Red set up the first settlement in Greenland in 985.  Below are the remains of his house that appear as boulders in the land.Qassiusak 7385 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking ruins of Erik the Red’s house, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 26 mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

While Erik the Red is credited to have discovered Greenland during his exile from Iceland, there are reports that other Norseman from Iceland arrived earlier.  It is not disputed, however, that Erik the Red landed in this area in 982 and then returned in 985 with 14 boats of colonists, losing 11 of his original 25 boats at sea.  His wife, Thjodhildr, is known for bringing Christianity to the island and had the first church built in the settlement.  Below is a reconstruction of her church.

Qassiusak 7429 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking reconstruction of a Norse church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

The land in this area of Greenland was suitable for farming that allowed the Viking colonies to flourish and survive the harsh conditions.  Another building that was popular during that time was the Norse longhouse where the colonists lived and shared space with their livestock.  Below is a reconstruction of this house in Brattahlid.

Qassiusak 7426 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking reconstruction of a Norse longhouse, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

In contrast to the Viking dwellings above, we also visited a reconstruction of an Inuit home shown below.  This home was lower to the ground with thick walls that gave greater warmth to the inside for surviving the harsh cold winters.

Qassiusak 7436 August 19, 2018

Image: Inuit dwelling, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 31 mm, f/18, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We were able to visit the current church of the Qassiarsuk and get a feel for the important features of Greenlandic churches in this day and age.  As you can see in the image below, the churches were bright red and although this is considered “modern” by Greenland’s standards for this region, the roads were dirt and accommodations were basic.

Qassiusak 7390 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

Inside the church, the pews and decorations were simple but interesting.  The bright colors of the exteriors of the buildings continued to the inside of the church as well.

Qassiusak 7409 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 6400, hand-held.

We enjoyed the visit of Qassiarsuk and learning about its history.  It is still known nowadays for its sheep farming in contrast to many of the surrounding villages that rely on the fishing industry.  We left this village that same morning with an overnight pack on our backs for the hills to the west and began our march towards the next fjord and its village, Tasiusaq.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7467 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike to Tasermiut Fjord, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

Stay tuned for our next adventure…

 

 

 

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

8 thoughts on “Qassiarsuk and Viking Ruins”

  1. Their livestock were important enough to them to abide together. Probably lack of building materials as well. Interesting history and glad to see it’s so well preserved and being recognized as a World Heritage Site. Lucky you to see it first hand.

    Liked by 1 person

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