UNESCO World Heritage sites in Norway
A country filled with culture and natural beauty
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Norway, a beautiful country filled with natural beauty, is perhaps best known for its fjords and mountains. But Norway is much more with its treasure chest of history and culture.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has eight sites in Norway on its World Heritage list, all interesting places to visit and explore.
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of 10 selection criteria.
There are six criteria for cultural sites:
- Represents a masterpiece of human creative genius
- Exhibits an important interchange of human values
- Bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition of a civilization
- Is an outstanding example of an architectural or technological ensemble throughout history
- Is an outstanding example of traditional human settlement or interaction with the environment
- Is tangibly associated with traditions, ideas, beliefs, and works of universal significance
There are four criteria for natural sites:
- Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty
- Has outstanding examples that represent the major stages of earth’s history
- Is an outstanding example of significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of land and sea communities of plants and animals
- Contains the most important natural habitats for conservation of biological diversity
The eight sites in Norway on the UNESCO World Heritage list are:
- Bryggen (1979)
- Urnes Stave Church (1980)
- Røros Mining Town (1980)
- Rock Art of Alta (1985)
- Vegaøyan – The Vega Archipelago (2004)
- Struve Geodetic Arc (2005)
- Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site (2015)
- West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord (2005)
This is the old wharf of Bergen, a former Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century. The colorful wooden houses of Bryggen have become a landmark of Bergen.
Røros Mining Town
Copper and sulfur pyrite were extracted for 333 years in Røros, between 1644 and 1977. The town was completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1679. The city now has some 80 wooden houses.
Rock Art of Alta
This group of petroglyphs in the Alta Fjord, near the Arctic Circle, bears traces of a settlement dating from circa 4200 to 500 B.C. There are thousands of paintings and engravings that allow us to understand the environment and human activities on the fringes of the Far North in prehistoric times.
These slands south of the Arctic Circle form a cultural landscape. Fishing villages, warehouses for eider down feathers, lighthouses, and beacons are some sites that can be seen.
Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site
Rjukan and Notodden in Telemar are industrial towns, great examples of industrial development and social transformation that took place at the beginning of the 20th century. Explore Rjukan, ride the Gaustabanen and Krossobanen, visit the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum, and walk the Saboteur’s trail.
West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord
Part of the west Norwegian fjord landscape, Geirangerfjord and Næroyfjord are among the world’s longest and deepest fjords and are considered scenically outstanding.
Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations, from Hammerfest in Norway stretching through 10 countries all the way to the Black Sea. These helped with establishing the size and shape of the planet.
Norway also has additional sites for possible nomination on the tentative list of UNESCO:
- The Laponian Area – Tysfjord, the fjord of Hellemobotn and Rago National Park
- The Lofoten Islands
- Svalbard Archipelago
- Islands of Jan Mayen and Bouvet as parts of a serial transnational nomination of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge system
- Viking monuments and sites: Vestfold Ship Burials and Hyllestad Quernstone Quarries
The content for this article was provided by Discover Scandinavia Tours (www.discoverscandinaviatours.com).
This article originally appeared in the January 10, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.