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Home* Pho­tos, Pan­ora­mas, Vide­os and Web­camsSpits­ber­gen Pan­ora­mas → Snat­cher­pyn­ten: Giæ­ver­vil­la

Giævervilla at Snatcherpynten

An early 20th century luxury resort in the Arctic

Giæ­ver­vil­la is an old buil­ding at Snat­cher­pyn­ten in Recher­chefjord. The histo­ry behind it is, howe­ver, a bit spe­cial. The­re are, by the way, dif­fe­rent spel­lings and ver­si­ons of the name, inclu­ding Gjæ­ver­vil­la (with “j”) and Giæ­ver­hu­set (also this one with “i” and “j”, respec­tively), or Vil­la Giæ­ver (dito). The ori­gin of the name, if you go all the way back, is said to be deri­ved from the town of Jever in north Ger­ma­ny. Che­ers! 🙂

Snatcherpynten: Giævervilla. Karte

Giæ­ver­vil­la is loca­ted at Snat­cher­pyn­ten in Recher­chefjord, Bell­sund.

Giæ­ver­vil­la is among­st Spitsbergen’s oldest hou­ses that still are stan­ding. It was built in 1904 on behalf of coun­sel Johan­nes Giæ­ver in Trom­sø. Giæver’s name is men­tio­ned in con­text with a lar­ge num­ber of arc­tic Spits­ber­gen. It seems like he hel­ped many of them in one or ano­ther way.

We don’t real­ly know what kind of plans he real­ly had for the house that now bears his name. But it is pro­ba­b­ly a safe guess that he wan­ted more than “only” a nice place for hims­elf to enjoy. It seems likely that he had plans to get some finan­cial return his invest­ment.

Back then, ear­ly Spits­ber­gen tou­rism in shape of luxu­ry crui­ses and tro­phy hun­ting was quite well estab­lished. For wealt­hy tou­rists, it was a com­mon thing to sail up with a ship for exam­p­le run by the Ves­ter­aa­len Damb­skip­sels­kab (an ear­ly ver­si­on of Hur­tig­ru­ten) and spend some days the­re in a luxu­rious resort. For this pur­po­se, the Ves­ter­aa­len Damb­skip­sels­kab had estab­lished a hotel in 1896 at a place that is now refer­red to at Hotell­ne­set, clo­se to the air­port near Lon­gye­ar­by­en (for the nit­pi­ckers: the real Hotell­ne­set is actual­ly a rather incon­spi­cuous bul­ge of the coast­li­ne clo­se to the camp­si­te, while the more pro­mi­nent head­land which most will refer to as Hotell­ne­set is actual­ly cal­led Advent­pyn­ten. But any­way …). This hotel in Advent­fjord was, howe­ver, alre­a­dy clo­sed again in 1898.

Giæ­ver was, of cour­se, awa­re of this, and he may well have had a simi­lar idea for his resort in Recher­chefjord, which is a very scenic place. The sur­roun­dings of Snat­cher­pyn­ten offer ple­nty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for hiking and hun­ting. And bey­ond this, Recher­chefjord had been a well-known natu­ral har­bour sin­ce the days of the ear­ly wha­lers in the 17th cen­tu­ry. It was one of a very few bays only whe­re lar­ger crui­se ships would drop anchor. Giæ­ver­vil­la was a poten­ti­al tou­rist attrac­tion and ser­ved as “post office Bell­sund” until 1907 (in 1908, the post office was moved to the wha­ling sta­ti­on at Fin­nes­et in Grønfjord).

Giæ­ver­vil­la is one of very few two flo­or buil­dings of tho­se times. After 1907, it star­ted to fall apart and by now it is in a pret­ty deso­la­te con­di­ti­on. Some time befo­re 2014 it was at least sta­bi­li­sed with woo­den beams to keep it more or less upright. Nevert­hel­ess, it is quite skew-whif­fed, which made it an inte­res­t­ing expe­ri­ence to shoot the pho­tos for the­se pan­ora­mas insi­de. I almost beca­me sea­sick – it felt like a lis­ting sai­ling ship, which is ok on a ship, but very stran­ge in a buil­ding on land.

Tal­king of sai­ling ships: big thanks to cap­tain Joa­chim of the sai­ling ship Anti­gua, who made it pos­si­ble for me to spend some time to pho­to­graph Giæ­ver­vil­la in a late evening while the ship was ancho­red in Recher­chefjord. Tho­se were the days 🙂

Giæ­ver­vil­la and Snat­cher­pyn­ten – pho­to gal­lery

And final­ly some impres­si­ons of Giæ­ver­vil­la and sur­roun­dings. The old mine wagons near the shore were brought the­re in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry by the Bri­tish Nor­t­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny – for wha­te­ver pur­po­se, the­re are no mine­rals worth mining at Snat­cher­pyn­ten and sur­roun­dings. A bit to the south of the wagons, you can see that the­re was a buil­ding the­re a long time ago, most likely a hut and/or blub­ber oven rela­ted to 17th cen­tu­ry wha­ling. But the­se remains are actual­ly a bit hard to see.

The­re is a gra­ve or a litt­le gra­ve field clo­se to the house. The woo­den cross fell over some time after 2016.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

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last modification: 2022-12-17 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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