Sortland is the capital of the district of Vesteralen, Northern Norway. It is located in the Vesteralen district just outside Lofoten. It is referred to as the Blue City of the North. The inspiration for The Blue City came from Bjorn Elvenes. Elvenes, a local artist, had chosen blue as a symbol of Sortland's maritime and fishing heritage. His idea was to paint all 17 blocks of the inner city in various shades of blue, with judicious use of contrasting colors to create a distinct identity and three-dimensional presence for each building within an overall design motif. The first buildings-mainly storehouses along the waterfront-were painted in summer of 1999. The remaining structures were scheduled for painting a three-year period. Sortland is also a handy spot for cod fishermen, who can cast their lines from Norway's 13th-longest bridge. Hikers are invited to walk up the nearby Steiroheia mountain for views of the coastal scenery and the Northern Lights, and budget travelers can catch buses to towns throughout the region.