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Norway on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

11/04/2012 | By | 24 Replies More

Norway on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Between 1979 and 1981 four Norwegian cultural sites were included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In 2004 a cultural landscape was added to the list; the Vega Islands in Northern Norway, and in 2005 two of Norway’s western fjords were the first natural sites to be included; the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord. Also added to the list in 2005, was the Struve Geodetic Arc.

Norway is characterised by wilderness and beauty and can offer many exciting experiences. Norway is like nowhere else and there are so many places to see. And it is closer than you think. Everything is different in the far north. In the summer, the nights shine just as brightly as the days. And in the winter, the shimmering northern lights can be seen in the sky.

UNESCO’s World Heritage List in Norway


The Urnes stave church in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway – Photo: Petr Šmerkl

Urnes Stave Church (Added to the Cultural list 1979)
The stave churches are some of the most important Norwegian contributions to the world of architecture and design. They are the oldest wooden constructions remaining in the country. Urnes Stave Church dates back to the second half of the 12th century and is one of the few wooden churches on the heritage list.

The church is built with a rectangular nave and a narrower choir. The nave and choir both have raised central spaces. The choir was extended to the east in the 17th century, but this addition was later removed. The drawing by Johan Christian Dahl depicts this, as well as the deteriorated state of the church at that time. During the 20th century the church underwent a restoration, and the richly decorated wall planks were covered to stop further deterioration.

A large number of medieval constructive elements remain in situ: ground beams (grunnstokker), sills (sviller), corner posts (hjørnestolper), wall planks (veggtiler) and aisle wall plates (stavlægjer). The construction of the raised central area with staves, strings and cross braces, and the roof itself, also date from medieval times.


From “Bryggen”, the wharf in Bergen, Norway – Photo: Erik K Veland

“Bryggen”, the wharf in Bergen (Added to the Cultural list 1979)
In the city centre of Bergen, along the wharf, these beautiful buildings are facing the ocean. The buildings are standing very close together and are decorated with intricate wooden ornaments giving witness to an architectural style that goes back to the time of the Hanseatic League, almost 900 years ago.



From the mining town of Røros, Norway – Photo: Jiri Havran

The mining town of Røros (Added to the Cultural list 1980)
The town of Røros is unique in the sense that it is constructed totally in wood. The houses of the miners and farmers date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and have been well preserved and have kept their old charm. For over 250 years Røros was the most important mining town in Norway.

Røros Mining Town and the Circumference is linked to the copper mines, established in the 17th century and exploited for 333 years until 1977. The site comprises the Town and its industrial-rural cultural landscapes; Femundshytta, a smelter with its associated area; and the Winter Transport Route. Completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1679, Røros contains about 2000 wooden one- and two-storey houses and a smelting house. Many of these buildings have preserved their blackened wooden façades, giving the town a medieval appearance. Surrounded by a buffer zone, coincident with the area of privileges (the Circumference) granted to the mining enterprise by the Danish-Norwegian Crown (1646), the property illustrates the establishment and flourishing of a lasting culture based on copper mining in a remote region with a harsh climate.


From Stone carvings in Alta, Norway, showing a man using some sort of tool on a moose – Photo: Ferkelparade

Stone carvings in Alta (Added to the Cultural list 1985)
This is the largest collection of stone carvings in northern Europe, dating back to the Stone Age and made by hunters and fishermen. There are more than 3,000 carvings spread over four open air sites, depicting people and animals in very artistic ways, and uniquely preserved.

The first carvings were discovered in autumn 1972 in the area of Jiepmaluokta (a Northern Sami name meaning “bay of seals”), about 4 kilometers from the town center of Alta. During the 1970s, many more carvings were discovered all around Alta, with a noticeably higher density around Jiepmaluokta (of around 5000 known carvings in the area, more than 3000 are located there). A system of wooden gangways totaling about 3 kilometers was constructed in the Jiepmaluokta area during the second half of the 1980s, and Alta’s museum was moved from its previous location in the town center to the site of the rock carvings in 1991. Although several other sites around Alta are known and new carvings are constantly discovered, only the Hjemmeluft locality is part of the official tour of the museum.

Most rocks around Alta are overgrown with a thick growth of moss and lichen; once carvings have been discovered, these plants are carefully removed and the rock is cleaned to expose the full extent of the carvings. The carvings are then documented using different techniques, most often the combination of quartz powder painted into the carvings which are then photographed and digitally treated.


The Vega Islands, Norway – Photo: Ann Elin Bratseth

The islands of Vega (Added to the Cultural list 2004)
Along the coast of Helgeland, the archipelago of Vega consists of unique islands, islets and reefs that form a cultural landscape of 103,710 ha, of which 6,930 ha is land. Vega bear witness to the will-power of generations of fishermen and farmers that have lived on the islands for more than 1,500 years, carefully protecting their culture and traditions. Vega is an ornithologist’s dream. Chief among the bird population are eider ducks, raised for their feathers – the houses built for them to nest in can still be seen, alongside lighthouses, fishing villages and dramatic landscapes .


From Struve Geodetic Arc, Norway – Photo: Vujicic-Lugassy

Struve Geodetic Arc (Added to the Cultural list 2005)
The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820 km. The site includes original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.

These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped to establish the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.


Part of Geirangerfjord and the Seven Sisters waterfall (“de Sju Søstre) – Photo: Lars Løfaldli

Geiranger- and Nærøyfjord (Added to the Natural list 2005)
The fjords of Norway are the main attraction for visitors. These two fjords are the first natural sites in Norway included on the heritage list. The fjords were formed during several ice ages, and the largest glacier on mainland Europe, the Jostedalsbreen, is situated between these two fjords.

The Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord areas are considered to be among the most scenically outstanding fjord areas on the planet. Their outstanding natural beauty is derived from their narrow and steep-sided crystalline rock walls that rise up to 1400 m direct from the Norwegian Sea and extend 500 m below sea level. Along the sheer walls of the fjords are numerous waterfalls while free-flowing rivers rise up through deciduous and coniferous forest to glacial lakes, glaciers and rugged mountains. There is a great range of supporting natural phenomena, both terrestrial and marine such as submarine moraines and marine mammals. Remnants of old and now mostly abandoned transhumant farms add a cultural aspect to the dramatic natural landscape that complements and adds human interest to the area.

Please join this video below and take a view of the outstanding natural beauty in Geiranger- and Nærøyfjord. In this film we show you a 12-day active outdoortrip hold in 2011. This trip takes you on a boattrip along the West coast of Norway, hiking a seacliff with oceanview, walk to the glacier, paddle the Geiranger Fjord and stay at a mountainfarm, 5-day hike in Jotunheimen, boattrip at the Nærøyfjord and visit Bergen.



For further information, please visit the Official website of the Norwegian Tourist Board ( )


Category: Norway

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