Kirkenes’ dramatic history:
Kirkenes is a unique town in Norway, due to its proximity to Russia and its dramatic World War II history. The town has a mixture of Norwegian, Sami and Russian population. An interesting feature of the town is that the street signs are both in Norwegian and in Russian.
During World War II, all of the houses in the town were demolished, apart from the tiny wooden church! Luckily Kirkenes was a mining town, with a maze of underground mining tunnels outside the town centre, and the inhabitants escaped into the mining tunnels to hide from the German soldiers.
This is where they lived until the Russians came to their rescue, and more than 3000 inhabitants suddenly appeared from the mining entrance! There has been made a really heart touching movie from this unique moment in Kirkenes’ history, which you can see in the Andersgrotta mining tunnel, located just under the town centre. The mine reopened in 2000, and became once more an important part of the town’s economy, in addition to the fishing industry. In 2015 the mining company decided to close their doors for good.