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Ice Hotel - Jukkasjarvi, Kiruna, Sweden

Ice Hotel at Jukkasjarvi, Kiruna, Sweden Fictional literature

Mikael Blomkvist, one of Stieg Larsson's main characters in the "Millenium Trilogy," was a rifleman in Kiruna during his time of national service.  Situated in Lapland, Kiruna is Sweden's northernmost city.

The town is just a few kilometers from one of the country's "seven wonders" - an ice hotel which is formed annually with ice harvested from the Torne River.  Everything is fashioned from ice, including bedrooms

When it is fully operational, ICEHOTEL (its official name) accommdates about 100 people.

Open from December to April, the hotel is built anew every year after it melts in the summer's midnight sun.

How much ice and snow do the Ice Hotel builders need to construct this new-every-year place?

  • Builders harvest about 10,000 tons of crystal-clear ice from the Torne River - known as an “ice-manufacturing plant.”
  • They also need about 30,000 tons of pure snow which Mother Nature freely delivers every year to the area.

When it’s finished, how large is the Ice Hotel? With its more than 30,000 square feet, the Ice Hotel includes:

  • The hotel itself;
  • An Ice Chapel;
  • A movie-theatre; and
  • The Absolut Ice Bar.

How did the idea for an ICEHOTEL begin?  How is it constructed?  Who is involved? 

Wikipedia provides some background history:

In 1989, Japanese ice artists visited the area and created an exhibition of ice art. In Spring 1990, French artist Jannot Derid held an exhibition in a cylinder-shaped igloo in the area. One night there were no rooms available in the town, so some of the visitors asked for permission to spend the night in the exhibition hall. They slept in sleeping bags on top of reindeer skin - the first guests of the "hotel."

The entire hotel is made out of snow and ice blocks taken from the Torne River - even the glasses in the bar are made of ice. Each spring, around March, Icehotel harvests tons of ice from the frozen Torne River and stores it in a nearby production hall with room for over 10,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow.

The ice is used for creating Icebar designs and ice glasses, for ice sculpting classes, events and product launches all over the world while the snow is used for building a strong structure for the building. About 1,000 tons of what is left is used in the construction of the next Icehotel.

When the temperature drops, and the snow guns start humming on the Torne River shore - usually in mid-November - the building process begins. The snow is sprayed on huge inverted catenary shaped steel forms and allowed to freeze. After a couple of days, the forms are removed, leaving a maze of free-standing corridors of snow.

In the corridors, dividing walls are built in order to create rooms and suites. Ice blocks are now being transported into the hotel where selected artists start creating the art and design of the perishable material.

Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi opens in phases.  The first phase opens in the beginning of December and, for each week, another part of the hotel opens for visitors and guests.  By the beginning of January, the entire construction is completed.

When completed, the hotel features a church, main hall, reception area, bar and rooms and suites for over 100 guests to sit and sleep on blocks of sculpted ice in the form of chairs and beds. There is also warm accommodation available next to the hotel.

The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi is known to be the biggest hotel of ice and snow in the world, spanning over 6,000 square meters. Each suite is unique and the architecture of the hotel is changed each year, as it is rebuilt from scratch.

Each year artists submit their ideas for suites and a jury selects about 50 artists to create the church, Absolut Icebar, reception, main hall and suites. When spring comes, everything melts away and returns to the Torne River. The Icehotel only exists between December and April, and has been listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Sweden.

Click on the image for a better view.

 


Media Credits

Photo of the 2005/06 ICEHOTEL - near the village of Jukkasjärvi, Kiruna, Sweden - taken by Stephan Herz on December 29, 2005.

LICENSE:  This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: You are free to share and make derivative works of it under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one.

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