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Historic sites and ruins in the Nanortalik district

Nanortalik Kommune
P.O. Box 166
DK-3922 Nanortalik
Tel.: 299 33277
Fax: 299 33077

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In practically every creek and headland in the Nanortalik District, and large areas inland, there are traces of human activity from ages past. Very few archaeological excavations have been carried out here, particularly of the Inuit remains, so the oldest dwelling-sites that have been dated are those of the Nordic settlers who came here in about the year 1000 AD. Recent studies show clear traces of close contact between the Inuits of East Greenland and the population of the Nanortalik District. A trip through the Nanortalik District offers the traveller a variety of attractions.

Beginning in the north, we pass Alluitsup Paa and come to the former Moravian mission station at Lichtenau in the Lichtenau Fjord. With its period buildings, fenced gardens and many graves, the site gives a vivid picture of the daily life of the missionary community in the 19th century. The Lichtenau Fjord branches into two parts at the end, in one of which is Greenland's largest waterfall, Qorlortorsuaq, and also the country's only sea trout farm. The ruins of a Norse manor lie in the other branch, Sioralik.
In the next fjord, Uunnartoq, there are natural hot springs, which have been the centre of human activity throughout history. At Uunnartoq itself, where there is a natural bathing pool at 37įC, there are both Norse and Inuit ruins. Not far from the island are the ruins of a Benedictine monastery at Narsarsuaq. A pelorus (a navigational sighting disc) of Norse origin, found here in the 1940s, cast completely new light on the navigating techniques of the Norsemen.
Moving further south, we come to the former graphite mine on the island Amitsoq. Graphite was mined here in the period 1915-25, and remains of the equipment used for the extraction can still be seen.
An interesting prospecting project in search of gold, zinc, copper and platinum, amongst other substances, is now in progress in the branch of the fjord around Amitsoq.
Tasermiut Fjord is the most famous part of the district. It contains rugged mountains that will challenge even the hardiest climber and some of the country's lushest vegetation, including the Qingua Valley with its 8-10 metre tall birch trees. Also in this area is Greenland's largest cultivated forest, a research plantation containing thousands of conifers. Further inside the Tasermiut Fjord lie the ruins of an Augustinian monastery; the siting is not surprising, as the whole area is full of traces of the Norse settlement.
Herjolfsn s, with its church ruins and the mediaeval clothing found there, has special significance, not least because it was from here that the Norse voyages of discovery to VŐnland began. Together with the assumed site of Sandhavn, Herjolfsn s occupies a special position as the first landfall and last point of departure of the Norse voyagers when they sailed to or from Greenland. The importance of the site in the Norse period is attested by ruins of what were probably boathouses used for keeping ships over the winter. Another interesting fact about the site is that Norsemen and Inuits certainly came into contact here. Traces of human activity through the centuries are to be found throughout the rugged landscape of the Kap Farvel region,and there is also evidence of contact between the populations of the east coast and southern Greenland.

Nanortalik Kommune - the southernmost municipal area in Greenland - has a total area of c. 15,000 km2, stretching from Qeqertarsuaq, north-west of Alluitsup Paa on the west coast to the Lindenow Fjord on the east coast and covering the entire Kap Farvel region in the south. It includes some of Greenland's most beautiful fjords, the country's only natural forest and dramatic, rugged mountains. The district's population of c. 2,700 is divided between the town of Nanortalik itself, five villages and a number of sheep farms. The main occupations are hunting and fishing.

Nanortalik (current population over 1,560) was founded as a trading post in 1797 at Sissarissoq, but was moved to the present site in 1830. In addition to a well-preserved colonial quarter, the town has an attractive church dating from 1916. In the years 1915-25, graphite from the mine on Amitsoq (now abandoned) was processed here. Following some promising mineral finds, a high-powered prospecting study is now in progress a short distance further east. The town of Nanortalik is characterized by its great boulders, among which the Knud Rasmussen Stone by the church is unique.

Alluitsup Paa is the largest village in the district, with nearly 500 inhabitants. Founded as a trading station in 1830, it now has a processing plant producing Fantail Shrimps. There is a monument in the village to Hansseraq, who took part in the Umiak Expedition in 1883-85.

Alluitsoq (pop.: 12) contains the "Allu" community centre. The village was founded by the Moravian Brethren in 1774, and many of the buildings date from that time. The parsonage was bought by the Gertrud Rask Institute in 1942 and was used as a children's home until 1980. A large number of Moravians lie buried in the churchyard.

Ammasivik currently has 160 inhabitants. The settlement dates from 1889, and the school chapel was built by the Moravian mission in 1899. The village became a trading station in 1922. For many years it has been a sheep-farming centre; not far off are the Qallimiut and Qorlortorsuaq farms, the latter of which lies close to Greenland's largest waterfall and is also the site of a sea trout farm.

Aappilattoq is now a fishing and hunting centre with 200 inhabitants. The settlement dates from the 19th century, but only became a trading station in 1922 as part of the centralization of trade in the Kap Farvel area. Many of the inhabitants came from East Greenland.
Narsarmijit/Frederiksdal now has a population of c. 140. Founded in 1824 as a mission station by the Moravian Brethren, this is where Jens Chemnitz embarked on the first sheep-farming project in Greenland in 1906. The village has had a lot of contact with the outside world due to the siting here of a US Loran station from 1934 until 1987 and the Store Nordiske telecommunication station "Icecan" from 1961 until 1990; the latter has been bought over by Nuna Tek Tele.

Tasiusaq is a village with a population of about 100. A sheep-farming family has lived here since 1933, and the village was made into a trading station in 1960. It serves as a centre for the sheep-farming families of the Tasermiut Fjord in Saputit and Nuugaarsuk near Kuussuaq, where the school's field station is located.

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