Monday, November 06, 2006

The UNESCO World Heritage sites in Norway

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established world heritage sites over the whole globe. These sites may be of architecural, historic or sites of exceptional natural beauty. These sites have been through a long nomination process before being granted this particular status. In Norway there are 7 world heritage sites. Four of them are historic sites of exeptional value.

Stonecarvings in Alta (4200/500 BC)

The oldest of the stone carvings at Alta, in Finnmark county, are over 6000 years old, and the youngest are from the first millenium BC. Over this vast timespan the inhabitants at Alta has carved animals, geometric figures and depictions of themselves. These carvings are one of the few sites going back to the first flocks of hunters and gatherers that settled these areas. All in all man has left more than 5000 figurs in the 5500 years people have used this area. These carvings have certainly played a very important religious and ideological role in theses peoples lives, under the harsh arctic skies.

You can visit Alta, by taking the flight services operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle or Scandinavia Airlines from Oslo.

Urnes Stavkirke (1130)

Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of Norways 28 stavechurches. It is dated by dendrochronology to the year 1132. This makes the building one of the oldest wooden structures still standing in Europe. It is not the first church on the site. There used to be at least one structure that predates the current building. Alterations have been made in the 17th century, but in spite of this the church with its impressive norse woodcarvings is remarkably well preserved.
Urnes is situated by the Sognefjord on the West Coast of Norway and is not situated as close to points of public transportation as the other site.

Bryggen (Bergen)(1360/1702)

Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and its history goes back more than 900 years. It used to be the Norwegian capital in the Middle Ages. The city has many important old historic sites. Among them is "Bryggen" the old hanseatic quarter, that used to be the headquarters of the Hansiatic league from 1360. Even though it has burnt down several times since the middle ages, the old houses on the site today, built after a fire in 1702 follows the plan of the medieval buildings that once used to stand here. When you walk along the narrow passages between these extraordinary buildings you feel you are back to the 18th century and beyond.

Bergen is the busy commercial and cultural centre of the Norwegian west coast and is certainly worth a visit. You may take a plane to Bergens Flesland Airport or travel by train over the impressive Hardanger Mountain Plateau. There are also cruiseliners that visit the city during the summer months, so there are many ways to visit Bryggen.

Røros (1644/1679)

The old mining town Røros was founded in 1644 after a farmer discovered huge amounts of copper close by. From the mid 1600's the city grew into the most prosperous cities in the country. The center of the city can be dated back to 1679, when the Swedish army burnt the city down. Today you find a large number of listed wooden buildings in the city, official as well as dwellings. Particularly impressive is the church built in 1784 that can house up to 1600 church goers. The wooden buildings are built from the 17th up to the present. Still the character of the city itself as a 17th century mining-centre has been well preserved. The city is especially beautiful during the cold winter months.

The best way to get to Røros is by train from Oslo or Trondheim, operated by the Norwegian State Railways (NSB)

No comments: