In the US, the place most associated with witches is Salem, Massachusetts. It was one of several towns where people were convicted and executed for the crime of witchcraft, but now Salem is a gathering place for both tourists and Wiccans, and plays the angle to the hilt. In Norway, the town of Vardø holds the distinction of “the witchcraft capitol,” but it’s not such a tourist draw. The town is at the rim of the Arctic Circle, and travel to Vardø is not simple. Why would someone make a pilgrimage to Vardø?
For me, that reason was the Steilneset Memorial, a monument to witches that makes Salem look like a Disney ride. Today’s Vardø may be trying to reinvent itself as a tourist attraction (bird-watching is its other big draw), but three centuries ago, it was the beating, psychotic heart of a major witch panic. Co-designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, the Steilneset Memorial honors the 91 people who died, most burned at the stake, in the witch persecution that started in 1600 and ended in 1692.
Vardø itself is dark and cold. You can avoid that by taking a virtual tour of Norway’s witch capitol, and learn a bit of its history, at The Outline. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Stylegar)