While the first “official” tourist to visit North Cape was a Franciscan friar, Francesco Negri, who arrived in 1664, the point was named by the English explorer Richard Chancellor in 1553, as he drifted along the Norwegian coast in an attempt to find the Northeast Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Chancellor failed, but managed to reach the White Sea, from where he and his crew travelled overland to Moscow, thereby opening a new, northern trade route to Russia. Chancellor’s account, published in the geographer Richard Hakluyt’s Navigations, brought his exploits to the attention of seamen across Europe, but it was to be another three hundred years before the Northeast Passage was finally negotiated by the Swede, Nils Nordenskjøld, in 1879. In the meantime, just a trickle of visitors ventured to the Nordkapp. Among them, in 1795, was the exiled Louis Philippe of Orleans (subsequently king of France), and King Chulalongkorn of Thailand, who had his name carved into a nearby rock. But it was the visit of the Norwegian king Oscar II in 1873 that opened the tourist floodgates. Two years later, Thomas Cook sent a tour group of 24 to visit. There were no island roads to the plateau, so the tourists had to be ferried by rowing boat from Gjesvær to Hornvika, at the base of the cliffs, before being instructed to climb the steep crags up to the top. The globe monument that now stands in for the actual cape – famous in postcards all over the country – was erected in 1978.

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