S O U N D D E S T I N A T I O N – Berlevåg

Berlevåg (or Northern Sami: Bearalvági gielda) is a municipality in in Finnmark county, Norway. There are two settlements in the minicipality of Berlevåg: the village of Berlevåg (with approx. 950 inhabitants) and the village of Kongshavn (with approx. 45 inhabintants).

Berlevåg is a lively fishing community in the northwestern part of the Varanger Peninsula, facing the open Barents Sea to the north and the Tanafjorden to the west. Situated at 70°N Berlevåg’s 1.122 km2 is mainly made up of untouched nature of an arctic character.

The most important sources of income are fishery, fish processing, trade, as well as public and private service.

Berlevåg, along with the rest of Finnmark, was occupied during World War II. Berlevåg Airport was originally put into use at this time, when German occupying forces constructed it with the help of hundreds of Russian prisoners of war. From 1943-1944, there were nearly daily bombing raids from Russia on Berlevåg and the German airfield.

In November 1944, the village was completely burned down and the inhabitants evacuated by force as part of the scorched earth strategy of the Germans. In the aftermath, the Norwegian government wanted to relocate the inhabitants to nearby Kongsfjord because of a better harbour, but they refused, and the village was rebuilt. As there are absolutely no trees in Berlevåg, many of the houses in Berlevåg were built by the help of the wooden planks in the “tarmac” of the previous German airfield.

In 1882 large parts of the fishing fleet were detroyed during a storm, and after this the first breakwater was built. Two times, in 1932 and 1959, the breakwater was destroyed by the water. After this a new breakwater technique using concrete tetrapods were used for two new breakwaters and these constructions still stand today despite waves up to 9.8 meter high.

SoundDestination: Berlevåg was created during a 1 month residency at Berlevågatelieene – Kvitbrakka and presented at Sommer i Berlevåg Festival 2017 in Galleri Villa Borealis. Thanks to Emma Gunnarson, Kristian Møller, Gunnvald Hansen, Bjornar Johansen and Bjørunn Jensen for showing and telling me about the places and for sharing their stories with me.

Destinations in Berlevåg: