Oskar II’s Chapel, Kirknes, Finnmark, Norway
Far from the hustle and bustle of Oslo or Bergen sits the charming King Oscar II Chapel (Kong Oscar IIs Kapell) in eastern Finnmark. A sentinel overlooking the Barents Sea, the King Oscar II Chapel beckons travelers—including our family in 2012—to this distant outpost of Norway.
About 2500 km from Oslo along a mostly E6 route (or about 2000 km via Sweden and Finland), King Oscar II Chapel is located farther east than Kirkenes. It can be found in the tiny settlement of Grense Jakobselv at the mouth of the Jakobselva where this Norwegian-Russian border river flows into the Barents Sea.
King Oscar II Chapel has played a role in the history of this strategically important region. Borders and land claims in this area of Finnmark and the Kola Peninsula (now part of Russia), as well as access to the sea, have evolved over many centuries. In 1826 a treaty between Norway and Russia established the 200 km border that we know today, formed largely by the rivers Jakobselva and Pasvikelva further to the south.
Border disputes continued despite the 1826 treaty. In 1869 the King Oscar II Chapel was built as a boundary marker, a “stake in the ground” to further demarcate the border, while also providing a chapel for the residents of recently established Grense Jakobselv. King Oscar II visited the chapel in 1873 and at his behest the chapel received his name.
Epic Norway Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound