From the tourist office of Aridsjaur, it is a walk of around 10 minutes northwest along the main street, Storgatan, and then right into Lappstadsgatan, to reach the fascinating Lappstaden, a tightly grouped cluster of square wooden huts, which make up the Sámi church town. The site is all the more remarkable since a couple of blocks of modern flats have been plonked unceremoniously next to the old buildings, making an awkward juxtaposition.
Built in the 18th century as accommodation for people who couldn’t make the journey to church and back in one day, 80 or so have survived today, thanks to the dogged preservation work of local schoolteacher, Karin Stenberg.
Lappstaden is composed of 52 storage huts, raised off the ground on poles for added protection from the elements, and 29 kåtor, living-huts, about 4m² and with pyramid-shaped roofs. These dwellings are set on low wooden walls and built in traditional Forest Sámi style. They have a sloping trap door to allow the smoke from the fire to escape. Inside there was traditionally an earthen floor covered with birch twigs although now a concrete floor is more common. Today, the huts are still used during the Storstämningshelgen Festival, which takes place during the last weekend of August and is a great time to be in Arvidsjaur for the accompanying events such as reindeer lassoing competitions, musical concerts and all-round merriment.