Torshavn, the capital of Faroe Islands, is one of the smallest and least populated capitals in the world.
And yet, compared to the rest of the Faroe Islands, Torshavn is a real metropolis. Every fourth inhabitant of Faroe has his house here.
The name Torshavn means Port Thor, from the name of a Norse god of storms and thunderbolts, and the word havn – meaning the port or the wharf in Faroese. The farers say this name: Torszavn, but most often they simply call it “the capital.” There are no high-rise buildings, and wooden, colorful houses in the center resemble Reykjavik, but much smaller.
The capital of the Faroe Islands is located at the southern end of the island of Streymoy. To get to here from the airport, you have to go through a paid, suboceanic tunnel. Ferries go directly to the port in the heart of the city. From other parts of the islands you can also fly by helicopter, the airport is located just to the east of the center of Torshavn. It is worth to fly, because it is probably the cheapest in Europe. For an adult ticket, we paid less than 25 GBP, a child (4 years old) – flies for free.
The heart of the city is the port with the bus and ferry terminals. This is where the famous M/S Norröna has it’s home-port. It sails the longest ferry route in the world – over 1,500-kilometer connection between Denmark and Iceland, with a stop in the Faroe Islands.
Facing the port, on the left you will have a fort with a lighthouse, on the right you will find a complex of colorful houses covered with turf, and on the back – the main promenade with shops, bookshops and boutiques.
Fort Skansin from 1580 was to protect the city from pirates who invaded distant islands. And it remained invincible for centuries. During the Second World War, when the Germans raided the city, the Allied command in the Faroe Islands was stationed at Skansin.
A group of red and black wooden houses covered with turf is the oldest district of the city – Tinganes. In the past, the Faroese parliament (Ting) was gathering here, and the first assembly took place in 825, at a time when in most countries of the world no one was thinking about the ideas of parliamentarism. Every year, during conventions that took place in the summer, the assembly took decisions important for the inhabitants of the islands.
Legislative assemblies were born at that time also in Tynwal on the Isle of Man and Þingvellir in Iceland. Today Tingenes is not only the old town, but also the seat of Faroese authorities. However, there are no armed guards here, and you can walk freely between the buildings. With luck, you can meet, for example, the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands going for lunch. The terrain is small – it can be walked around in a few minutes, but it is also so picturesque, that you can spend much more time here.
After going to the other side of Tinganes, you will find yourself in a beautiful yacht port, with a promenade with cafes. From there, it’s close to the main pedestrian shopping street of Torshavn. On Niels Finsens gøta, there is tourist information, shops with famous Faroese sweaters, functional Scandinavian design and souvenirs.