The new Kiruna town centre just before inauguration in September 2022, Source: Kiruna Municipality

This Swedish town is literally busy moving its location

This Swedish town is literally busy moving its location

Kiruna is going to be re-founded further to the east, one building at a time

Kiruna is a small Swedish town located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic circle, which recently entered the news as hosting the inaugural event of the Swedish 2023 EU Council Presidency. The quaint settlement, however, is quite remarkable for something else entirely – it is currently in the process of physically changing its location, a process that even includes the dismantling of some buildings and reassembling them again at the new place.

The unusual project has been deemed necessary due to the presence of an expanding nearby mine, which has been threatening the ground stability of the foundations. In essence, the city is sinking.

A town on the move

Kiruna Mine is the world’s largest underground ore mine and also a source of rare earth materials. It was developed at the end of the 19th century and its existence necessitated the creation of a new town to house the miners. It was officially founded in 1900, and now some 120-odd years later it is packing up and changing its address.

The transition has in fact already started in 2013 and is an ongoing process expected to be completed by 2035, when Kiruna will be located a few kilometres to the east.

Its new town centre was inaugurated in September 2022 featuring a brand new city hall. There are already residential neighbourhoods being set up, so at the moment, the town of Kiruna can be said to exist in two distinct locations simultaneously.

Some of the buildings will be demolished, however, there is a list of historically significant or important buildings, which are slated for preservation. These will be dismantled and then reassembled at the new spot.

A notable example among the latter is the Kurina Church, built in 1912, which has been considered among the most beautiful buildings in all of Sweden thanks to its modernist design.

Kiruna has around 23,000 inhabitants that populate a territory the size of Slovenia.

It is located in a protected landscape that attracts many tourists as it includes birch forests, alpine tundra, seven rivers and 6,000 lakes.

But the expansion of the mine also worries the indigenous people of Lapland, known as the Sámi, who mostly live off reindeer herding in the region.



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