Looking for historical landmarks? Try Norway!

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Photo: Per Eide/Visitnorway.com

In Norway, you can visit eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in-between natural landscapes of deep valleys and soaring mountains. Check out the list here!

Norwegian Fjord Landscape
The Geiranger fjord and the Nærøy fjord in western Norway are the two only sites listed on the UNESCO list solely because of the landscape. The two fjords are listed as classic examples of the western fjord landscape in Norway. In addition to the spectacular nature, where glaciers and waterfalls meet majestic mountains and soaring waterfalls, the old cultural landscape consisting of small farms and houses give the area an extra dimension.

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Bryggen in Bergen
In the beautiful city of Bergen, you will find the next world heritage site on the list. In the middle of the historical centre of the city, you can find the old wooden wharf established by the Hanseatic League in the 1300s. From the mid-1300s until the mid-1700s, Bryggen was the headquarter for the Hanseatic trade union between Germany and Norway, where trade products such as dried fish, salt, beer, jewelry and grain were exchanged. This historical trade post has burned down several times, but rebuilt every time. Much of the current buildings date back to the 1700s, and stands as a reminder of what wooden urban structures in Northern Europe looked like during the time of the Hanseatic League, several hundred years ago.

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Urnes Stave Church

Some of the oldest wooden structures in the world are the Norwegian stave churches. In the Middle Ages, between 1000 and 2000 stave churches were located in Norway, but today only 28 remain, with Urnes stave church being regarded as the oldest. Beautifully decorated in wooden carvings and inscriptions, it is a must-see for all history and architecture aficionados. Urnes stave church is located in the region of Sogn og Fjordane, and is open to the public every day of the week.

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Røros Mining Town
In 1980, the mining town of Røros was listed on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. 333 years of mining and urban agriculture had created a very distinctive city on the mountain plateau of central Norway. The mining town has preserved much of its original traits with street patterns built in the 17th century and tree houses from the 1700s and 1800s. The scenery in the area is beautiful and majestic, with possibilities for paddling through the woods through old lakes as well as hiking across the plateau.

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Alta Rock Art
Next on the list is the Alta rock carvings and paintings. By far the oldest, this world heritage site on the list is located near the city of Alta in northern Norway. The exact age of the rock paintings is not known, but they are estimated to be around 4000-6000 years old, making them the most important historical evidence of the hunter-gatherer society in the Arctic. The over 6000 rock carvings and 50 rock paintings are depicting a wide variety of motives, from humans and animals, religious pictures and geometrical figures. The Alta rock paintings were added to the UNESCO world list in 1985.

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Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site
Added in 2015, the two industry towns of Rjukan and Notodden are the most recent Norwegian addition to the world heritage list. These two towns located in southeastern Norway were regarded as pioneer towns in the early 1900s, in the period, which is described as the second industrial revolution in northern Europe. Dams, railways, ferries and power stations are evidence of the booming epoch of the area. At one point in time, the world’s largest power station was located in Rjukan. Rjukan was also the location for the famous Operation Gunnerside during the second world war when Norwegian saboteurs destroyed the heavy water factory, believed to be important for the German attempts of creating an atomic bomb.

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The Vega Archipelago
With over 6000 islands and islets, the Vega islands on the coast of northern Norway is a remarkable sight. The foundations for the modern Norwegian state was laid here when the first settlements were made over 10,000 years ago, with the creative use of the resources in the area. The many islands in the Vega archipelago made the UNESCO world heritage site list because it “reflects the way generations of fishermen-farmers have, over the past 1500 years, maintained a sustainable living in an inhospitable seascape near the Arctic Circle, based on the now unique practice of eider down harvesting, and it also celebrates women’s contribution to the eider down process.” The Vega Archipelago was added to the world heritage list in 2004.

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The Struve Geodetic Arch
In 1855, the German astronomer Friedrich Georg Willhelm von Struve finished a project to map the exact size and form of the earth. By setting up a chain of survey triangulations all the way from the Black Sea to the city of Hammerfest in Norway, this could finally be measured. In Norway, we can find four points of measurement created by Struve: The meridian statues in Hammerfest, Alta and two in Kautokeino. The establishment of the Struve Geodetic Arch took over 40 years, and it was the first international project the state of Norway took part of.

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Photo one: Øyvind Heen - Visitnorway.com
Photo two: joaquinaristii/Foap/Visitnorway.com
Photo three: Espen Mills/Matlangsnasjonaleturistveger.no/Visitnorway.com
Photo four: Thomas Rasmus Skaug - visitnorway.com
Photo five: CH - Visitnorway.com
Photo six: Ian Brodie/visitrjukan.com
Photo seven: Anton Ligaarden/Visitnorway.com
Photo eight: Christian Roth Christensen/Visitnorway.com