One of the northernmost towns in Norway, Hammerfest was established in 1789 and quickly became a center for fishing and trapping in the Arctic. Damaged and devastated a number of times in its history, the town kept reinventing itself over and over again, and today boasts a large modern harbor. As a part of a reconstruction process, Hammerfest became the first town in Northern Europe to install electrical street lamps.
One of the town’s unique structures is the Hammerfest Church, which is part of the Lutheran Church of Norway. Hammerfest is also one of the unofficial capitals for the Sami, the indigenous people of Lapland. Its Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society hosts a museum showcasing the natural history of life in the Arctic. The name Hammerfest derives from the Old Norse words Hammar, ‘steep mountainside’ and Festr, meaning ‘fastening’ (for boats).