Epic Places In Norway That Represent Norwegian Pride
Cruising the Nærøyfjord | Courtesy of Visit Sognefjord
Norwegians take great pride in all things Norway. This is made particularly obvious on May 17, when everyone dons their traditional bunads, although it is apparent in their everyday lives as well. There are certain places that hold a special significance to them, as they represent a part of Norwegian history, heritage, or just the magnificence of Norwegian nature. We’ve gathered some of these places below for you to hop on the Norway appreciation wagon.
Founded in the 17th century, this mining town in central Norway is one of the oldest ones with wooden buildings in Europe. Røros is a sustainable destination (a.k.a. a place “that works actively to reduce the environmental impact of tourism”) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the locals, it’s also the real-life place that inspired Disney’s Frozen.
Norway’s best-preserved sailing ship town, located at the southernmost tip of Karmøy island. Skudeneshavn flourished during the 16th-19th century – and has been practically unchanged since then. The coastal town comprises 130 original timber homes, businesses and seafront wharves that are being maintained by the locals. The presence of the Empire European architecture style (which was popular back in the day) has given the city its nickname, The White Lady of the Empire. If you’re there in the summer, don’t miss Skudefestivalen; the largest boat gathering in Western Norway.
Standing proudly by Oslo’s waterside, Akershus Fortress is the oldest building in the Norwegian capital. Its construction started in 1290 and has since withstood the passage of time – as well as sieges and the 1624 fire, which destroyed the whole city. The fortress is free to enter and within its wall you’ll find several museums and monuments (many of them World War II related). Since 2014, Oslo’s Medieval Festival has also been hosted here.
Hadeland Glassverk | Courtesy of Gjøvikregion Hadeland Ringerike Reiseliv
This small town, located next to Norway’s largest lake, has many reasons to be proud. For one, it is home to Hadeland glassworks, the country’s oldest handicraft business. The city actually grew because of the success of the glass factory in the mid-1800s. It’s also home to Scandinavia’s only intact pulp mill (which you can visit at Kistefos museum) as well as the world’s oldest preserved paddle steamer still in service, Skibladner. And that’s not all – thanks to its proximity with Lillehammer, the city that hosted the Winter Olympics of 1994, at Gjovik you’ll find the world’s largest spectators hall inside a mountain. It’s called Fjellhallen and it was built to to accommodate the ice hockey matches of the Olympics – and it’s still in use today.
To clarify: Norwegians are proud of every single one of their 1,000 fjords. But Nærøyfjord, Sognefjord’s second arm in Western Norway, is especially beautiful. Very long, very narrow and surrounded by majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls, this fjord has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – for good reason.
The Norwegian town of Visnes has its own Statue of Liberty | Courtesy of Opplev Karmoy
Once again, Karmøy island is proving to be a source of Norwegian pride. The village of Visnes, although small today, was once Norway’s largest workplace thanks to its booming copper industry back in the mid-1800s. In fact, Visnes Copper Mine was considered to be the largest and most modern in Northern Europe at the time. So much so that it provided the copper for Statue of Liberty – yes, the one that graces New York. To honor this, a miniature version of Lady Liberty can be found in the village.
The Slottsfjell Tower | Courtesy of Visit Tønsberg
Founded during the Viking Period, Tønsberg is Norway’s oldest city – so it’s not hard to imagine there are a lot of historical gems awaiting you here. For one, there’s Mount Slottsfjell. The “castle hill” is actually Scandinavia’s largest ruin site, comprising what remains of Castrum Tunsbergis. Tønsberg is also home to the Oseberg ship, the famous Viking ship that can be admired at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo. You can find a full-scale replica at the city’s harbour.
This iconic monument in Hafrsfjord, outside Stavanger, is definitely a source of Norwegian pride. Although it was only unveiled as recently as 1983, the three gigantic swords are symbols of a historical event of great significance that took place here in medieval times. Because here, in 872 CE, Harald Fairhair gathered all Norwegians under one kingdom – and the three swords represent peace, unity and freedom.
Norway’s stave churches, once very popular throughout northwestern Europe but now unique in the country, are truly unmissable. In their elaborate wooden carvings, you can see a mix between Christian and Viking traditions – and Urnes Stave Church is the oldest and most impressive of them. Located on one of the arms of Sognefjord, the church that was built around 1130 CE is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.