Top historic sites in Faroe Islands

Tórshavn Cathedral

Tórshavn Cathedral is the second oldest existing church of the Faroe Islands. Painted white, and roofed with slate, it was erected in 1788. Since 1990 it has been the seat of the bishop of the Faroes and is therefore known as a cathedral. The early history of the church is quite complicated. To all appearances there was no church in the strict sense in Tórshavn in the Middle Ages, only perhaps a 'praye ...
Founded: 1788 | Location: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Tinganes

Tinganes is the historic location of the Faroe Islands. The name means 'parliament jetty' or 'parliament point' in Faroese. The parliament met here for the first time in the Viking ages when Norwegian colonists placed their Ting (parliament) here in 825. It is one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world, along with Tynwald hill in the Isle of Man and Þingvellir in Iceland. The L&o ...
Founded: 800-900 AD | Location: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Skansin

Skansin is a historic fortress located on a hill beside the port of Tórshavn. The fort was built in 1580 by Magnus Heinason to protect against pirate raids of the town, after he himself was nearly caught up in one such raid. The fort was expanded considerably in 1780 and went through a series of rebuilds for many years afterwards. During the Second World War the fort served Britain as a military base. Two guns date ...
Founded: 1580 | Location: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Sandavágur Church

Sandavágur Church is a distinctive red-roofed church built in 1917. A memorial was erected outside the church to one of the many ships that were sunk during the Second World War. The church is known for its runestone. The inscription on the Sandavágur stone tells that the Norwegian Torkil Onandarson from Rogaland was the first settler on this place. It is believed to be dated back to the 13th century.
Founded: 1917 | Location: Sandavágur, Faroe Islands

Kirkjubøargarður

Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

St Olav's Church

St Olav"s church is the oldest church in use in Faroe Islands, built in 12th century. Wonderfully carved pew ends from an earlier building can now be seen in Torshavn Museum.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

Magnus Cathedral Ruins

Magnus Cathedral is a ruined cathedral built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300. The building was however never completed. The cathedral is in an unfinished state to this day. The building has never had a roof. Magnus Cathedral is the largest and most beautiful medieval building in the Faroe Islands.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.