With an estimated population of 17,316, the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, counts as one of the smallest capital cities in the world by population, accompanied by Malta’s Valetta or Liechtenstein’s Vaduz. Usually stunned in astounding winter scenery, Nuuk is also the world’s northernmost capital.
Despite Nuuk was founded in 1728 as the first town in Greenland, thus being classed as a town for nearly 300 years, the site has a long history of settlements. The first inhabitants of the area were the ancient pre-Inuit, Paleo-Eskimo of the Saqqaq culture as far back as 2200 BC. They lived in the area around the now abandoned fishing village of Qoornoq.
Before the 10th century, the area was also occupied by Dorset culture, and after that, the Viking explorers arrived. The Inuit and the Norseman both lived with little interaction in this area in the time span of almost five centuries.
“One city… stands out. Nuuk… has probably the highest percentage of aboriginal people of any city: almost 90% of Greenland’s population of 58,000 is Inuit, and least eight in 10 live in urban settlements. Nuuk also celebrates Inuit culture and history to an extent that is unprecedented in many cities with higher total aboriginal populations. By proportion and by cultural authority and impact, it may well be tiny Nuuk that is the most indigenous city in the world.”
– Paul Daley, Which is the world’s most indigenous city?
The most amusing buildings in Nuuk
One of the capital’s oldest surviving buildings is the Hans Egede’s House, built in 1721 by the Danish missionary Hans Egede. Standing close to the harbor in the midst of other old house, today it is used for government receptions.
A red building with a clock tower, built in 1849, the Nuuk Cathedral makes another of the city’s prominent landmark buildings.
Katuaq is the cultural center of the capital, regularly used for music concerts, film projections or art exhibitions. The complex is comprised of art school, library, and a café too.
Nuuk is formidable for its high-quality art that it offers. Some of it can be seen at the Nuuk Art Museum, the only private art and crafts museum in the whole Greenland. In its collections, the museum possesses local paintings, graphics, and drawings; some are by Andy Warhol. There are also figures in soapstone, ivory, and wood, and many other collectibles found by archaeologists.
If you are ever traveling to Nuuk, get ready to enjoy the nice polar climate. It’s pretty cool in summers, cold and snowy in winters, with an average annual temperature of -1.4°C.
Nuuk special: the city is foreknown for whale watching tours, quite a rare opportunity where people can get up close to the dignified rules of the sea in their natural habitat