For commuters across the Faroe Islands, car trips are getting shorter and more beautiful. An incredible glowing “jellyfish” acts as a roundabout in the new Eysturoy tunnel that opened on December 19, 2020. The structure connects the capital of the islands, Tórshavn, to the smaller areas of Strendur and Saltnes. The original length of a trip was approximately 34 miles, but now commuters travel only 10 and a half miles—meaning that an hour-long commute would take just over 15 minutes.
The aesthetics of the road certainly feel appropriate for a piece of infrastructure under the sea. The jellyfish is not an oddly shaped structural member, but the natural stone that remained when the rest of the volume was carved out. Tróndur Patursson, the Faroese artist selected for the Esturoy tunnel, used paint and accompanying sculpture to transform the peculiar forms into a magical underwater scene. Patursson’s art is partially inspired by local ideas and partially by his experiences at sea when he recreated Saint Brendan’s voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
The 260-foot sculpture depicts people joining together for a “ring dance.” The Faroese chain dance is the “national circle dance of the Faroe Islands” that has been around since medieval times. It has few rules besides joining together in a circle or in a long chain to allow more people to join. Patursson explains, “The figures are walking from darkness into the light and they symbolize the very Faroese idea that by joining hands and working together we achieve great things.”
The Esturoy tunnel brings together the 52,000 people who live on the Faroe Islands, though some say the 75 kroner fee—or $12—is too steep and serves too small a group of people. Still, work is continuing to improve the islands' infrastructure. Sandoy tunnel will soon connect Streymoy and Sandoy and is planned for 2023.
The tunnels are the largest investment of infrastructure ever to benefit the Faroe Islands. Guðrið Højgaard, the director of Visit Faroe Islands, is optimistic that this move will help locals in more ways than just shortening their commute. “We hope this new infrastructure will help spread some of the tourism benefits more widely around the north-east of the Faroe Islands, and perhaps encourage Faroese businesses to cater for visitors more.”