Skibotn (Sami: Ivgobahta, Kven: Markkina or Yykeänperä) is a
Norwegian town with 524 inhabitants (2017) in Storfjord
municipality, on the Lyngenfjord in Troms county in Northern Norway.
Skibotn is located on the European roads E6 and E8. The latter road
takes off in Skibotn and leads into Finland.
During the final stages of World War II, Skibotn was the northernmost place that escaped being burned by the Germans during their retreat from Finnmark. Skibotn is also known for its dry and relatively warm climate, which made the area favorable for astronomical observations. In Skibotndalen there is also an astronomical observatory, which was previously used by the University of Tromsø.
The market place in Skibotn
The market in Skibotn was the largest in Nord-Troms for several hundred years, and the marketplace had a series of large and small market stalls, where trade was conducted once a year. The market place today consists of both original and reconstructed sheds and is cared for by the Nord-Troms Museum. The oldest buildings on this site date from the 1880s, and the large Rasch farm next door dates from around 1840.
It is not known when markets in Skibotn began, but there are some sources that indicate that trade has occurred since 1608. In the 18th century there were two markets a year, both in winter. Later the number increased to three. The market was an important meeting place, where traders, small farmers, fishermen, women and Sami met. The market was a meeting between three ethnic groups with three different languages and cultures. Goods that were traded included grouse, reindeer meat, coffee, sugar, flour, fish and woolen goods. Regular market trading ceased in the mid-1930s.
The prayer house in Skibotn
The Laestadian revival movement gained an early foothold in Skibotn. The first two Læstadian preachers were sent to the market in Skibotn by Lars Levi Læstadius in the fall of 1848. The revival took root in the area during the 1850s. A collection to build a house of prayer started in 1890 and a house of prayer could in a first stage be put into use during the first part of the 1890s. It has since been expanded in many rounds. In 1931 it became a cross church.
The altarpiece is painted by Eero Nelimarkka.
In Skibotndalen, at an altitude of 200 meters above sea level, there is an astronomical observatory (69°20′54″N 20°21′54″E), which was used by the Northern Lights Observatory and the University of Tromsø from the 1960s until 2004. It is now managed by Tromsø Astronomy Association. The observatory has a telescope with a 50 centimeter reflector.
The Tromsø Geophysical Observatory has a 32 MHz riometer nearby.
Skibotn field station
Since the early 1980s, the University of Tromsø has had a field station in Skibotndalen, about six kilometers from Skibotn. It is mainly used by the departments of biology, geology, botany, physics and astrophysics.
Ground station for high altitude radar
In September 2017, construction of a ground station for a new high-altitude radar began in Skibotndalen (69°20′42″N 20°19′17″E) for the Eiscat project "Eiscat 3D". Within this research project, radar signals are to be sent from a radar facility with 10,000 antennas in Skibotn and received in Skibotn as well as in Kaisaniemi in Kiruna municipality and in Karesuvanto in Finland.