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Tromso, Norway

The most northern of Norway's rugged islands, Tromso delights the senses with the true wonders of the polar environment -- glistening glacial ridges, the icy clear waters of Lake Prestvatn, even windswept valleys where reindeer roam free. Amidst the beauty, there is fascinating history to be found as well -- from ancient northern settlements to signs of sacrificial sites and cults that pre-date Christianity.

Referred to as the "Gateway to the Arctic," many research and hunting expeditions were launched from here. The Polar Museum has exciting presentations on expeditions that started out from Tromso. It also houses exhibits that provide a rare insight into the lives of hunters, trappers and explorers in the region, from whaling in the 1600's to present-day hunting.

Located well inside the Arctic Circle, the clear skies here experiences the wondrous phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Visit the Northern Lights Planetarium to learn more about this natural wonder. This exciting attraction includes a film depicting the changing seasons -- two months with continuous daylight and two without the sun at all -- on a 360-degree screen.

The Tromsdalen Church is much better known as the Arctic Cathedral. This dramatic church is a masterpiece of concrete and glass resembling a mountain crest, designed to reflect the beauty of the surrounding Arctic region. The cathedral has 11 spires designed to mirror glacial features and auroral features of the north.

The University of Tromso, founded in 1972, holds the distinction of being the world's northernmost university. Connected with the university is the Tromso Museum, Norway's largest museum, which houses many interesting zoological, geological, and ethnological exhibits.

The town's newest attraction, the Polaria Arctic Center immediately tempts visitors with its bold architecture, a design resembling huge blocks of ice thrown together. Inside, discover the unique qualities of the polar environment, from the frozen Barents region to the spectacular wildlife indigenous to the icy islands of Svalbard and Spitsbergen. A fascinating and very life-like demonstration full of real snow and howling winds will transport you into arctic conditions like you never imagined.
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