Travellers inevitably discover many treasures of nature and culture in Fjord Norway. UNESCO has included three of these on its World Heritage List – considering them to be so important that they belong to all humanity, and stating that they must be preserved for future generations.
You will not find fjords more beautiful anywhere else in the world, nor more of them. From the north to the south, Fjord Norway presents an amazing array of fjords surrounded by varied terrain. In summer 2005, the Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord were nominated to UNESCO’s celebrated World Heritage List – but they have drawn tourists here since the early 19th century, including the thousands who come by cruise ship every year.
The Nærøyfjord is the most spectacular arm of the Sognefjord and the narrowest fjord in the world, at one point only 250 metres wide, with mountains towering more than a thousand metres above its tranquil waters. The Geirangerfjord, further north, is known for its pristine beauty and magnificent waterfalls. Peering down onto the fjords from fertile mountain ledges there are farms, some of them still in use. Fittingly, UNESCO finds not just these two famous fjords, but also the large, virtually unspoiled areas that surround them, worthy of preservation.
For 850 years, Urnes stave church has kept watch over the beautiful Lusterfjord, a testimony to the master craftsmen who built it, many of their woodworking techniques inherited from the Vikings. Intertwined animal figures are carved deep into the west and north portal to the best preserved of Norway’s 28 remaining stave churches. You may be astonished to know that an estimated 2000 stave churches were built between 1150 and 1350!
Our third World Heritage attraction is Bryggen in Bergen. Whether glowing in the evening sun or glittering after a rain shower, the distinctive row of gable-end buildings that face the harbour enchants you. Between its long buildings there are narrow wooden-paved passages – inviting you to step deep into Bryggen’s past.
The oldest buildings date from 1702, rebuilt after one of many fires – but the building tradition probably stretches 900 years back in time, much further than the Hanseatic League, which used Bryggen as the headquarters of its dried cod exports to Europe.
You can explore the many layers of history at the Hanseatic Museum and Bryggen Museum, both close by.