Photo: Mads Bang / Qaasuitsup Kommunia
Ilulissat is approximately 350 km north of the Polar Circle, and the city is with 4.500 inhabitants the third-largest city in Greenland. The city is home to almost as many slegde-dogs.
The city neighbours the Ilulissat Icefjord, where enormous icebergs from the most productive glacier in the northen hemisphere.
The meaning of "Ilulissat" is "The Icebergs" and these white giants are a source of astonishment for both residents and visitors, when the gaze drifts to the wide Disco Bay og when you walk close to the fjord.
Ilulissat was founded by Jakob Severin in 1741 but local history dates back much further. The settlement Sermermiut (which m the glacier people's settlement) is situated a few kilometers southwest of the town beside the mouth of Ilulissat Ice fiord and was inhabited as early as 2000 years B.C.
The place where Ilulissat lies today was then used by the Sermimiut people as a summer settlement. In 1734 Jakob Severin obtained a commercial monopoly in Greenland and on January 30, 1741 he wrote to King Christian VI asking for permission to found two colonies, one in Disco Bay and another between Nuuk and Kap Farvel (the present Paamiut).
The reason for Jakob Severin to found the colony in Ilulissat was the great number of people who lived around Ilulissat. At that time the area was one of the most densely populated areas in Greenland. Ort April 1, 1741 King Christian VI granted him permission to build a "lodging" 6 7 Danish miles north of Christianshåb. At that time the summer mission's lodging had no name. On January 12, 1742 the king gave his final acceptance that the "lodging" be called Jakobshavn.
The "lodging" was upgraded to Jakobshavn "colony" at the beginning of 1782. Ilulissat (the colony Jakobshavn) remained a rather small place of much less importance than other settlements in the area for several decades. Not until the 1800's did the importance of Ilulissat increase when it became a centre for cultural and educational activities in Disko Bay, at the opening of the Teacher's Training College for Northern Greenland in 1848. The college educated catechists to work in churches and schools and also supervised educational and church matters in the northern part of West Greenland.