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Sunnhordland Geopark holds UNESCO Global Geopark status due to its rich geology and archaeology, providing a fascinating insight into our prehistory, encompassing both nature and culture.

Where is UNESCO Geopark Sunnhordland?

Sunnhordland Geopark spans the eight municipalities along the outer part of the beautiful Hardangerfjord. From bare cliffs by the sea, it's a short distance to the majestic mountains and glaciers that send long waterfalls into blue fjords. Here, stories unfold about the continent's magnificent rise and fall, while fjords and mountains bear impressive traces of the colossal glaciers' icy journey to the sea.

For over 11,000 years, people have found livelihoods in this region's rich variety of nature, landscapes, flora, and fauna. Both E39 and E134 pass through Sunnhordland.

What is a UNESCO Geopark?

A UNESCO Geopark is not a fenced park but a defined geographical area with an outstanding geological heritage of global value. Through a combination of conservation, sustainable development, and community involvement, geoparks have become increasingly popular. There are 195 UNESCO Geoparks worldwide, with four in Norway.

What is UNESCO Geopark Sunnhordland?

The geopark covers the entire 4700 km2 area of Sunnhordland, divided by the majestic Hardangerfjord, inviting a journey through Earth's history. North of the fjord, a treasure trove of young volcanic rocks is scattered in an archipelago, while south of the fjord is a much older alpine landscape shaped by 30-40 ice ages.

Sunnhordland Geopark tells fascinating stories of continent and community formation, characterized by impressive mountains and fjords, glaciers, monumental waterfalls, and diverse biodiversity. A journey through Geopark Sunnhordland is an adventurous expedition through nature, culture, and geology.

The First People on the West Coast

12,000 years ago, the west coast was freed from the enormous glacier that had hidden the landscape for thousands of years. Soon after, the first people paddled here in their skin boats from lands farther south, perhaps following the goose flocks pointing north in the spring sky. The southwest coast of Norway offered rich resources of fish, birds, and seals but lacked the flint rock nomads were accustomed to making their weapons and tools from where they came from.

Local alternatives had to be found to survive here, and in what we now call Sunnhordland, nomads found a good alternative to flint on the island of Hespriholmen right out to sea. For six millennia thereafter, people on the southwest coast fetched their axe materials from a greenstone quarry on Hespriholmen, and today, this small island right at the water's edge is a unique, intact cultural monument and one of the world's oldest mines.

The Treasures in UNESCO Geopark Sunnhordland

In the visitor centers Moster Amfi, Folgefonnsenteret, and Sunnhordland Museum, the geology, nature, and history are conveyed through exhibitions and knowledgeable hosts. The GeoTour map guides you to selected geological and cultural key sites, and on our website, you'll find selected partners for accommodation, food, and experiences. You can find GeoTour maps at the visitor centers and partners.

Feel free to contact the geopark directly for advice, guided tours, and geological information.

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