NORWAY & SCANDINAVIA
Scandinavia is a region in northern Europe that is commonly associated with Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It is accustomed to think of the region Scandinavian as one country.
In June 1397 the three Kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark formed the “Kalmar Union”. The Union lasted until Sweden rebelled and became independent in 1523, under King Gustav I Vasa. At the same time, Norway sank to the status of a Danish province (1536).
In 1814 Norway was ceded from Denmark to Sweden, and Norway declared its independence and got their own constitution. Though Norway was in union with Sweden until 1905. Prince of Denmark – Haakon 7, became the King of Norway.
In countries are undoubtedly a great destination for every kind of traveler. They offer beautiful wilderness with glaciers in the north, forests and lakes in the south, and interesting, clean and attractive cities across the region.
Scandinavia is known for its amazing natural phenomena. In this part of the world, travelers can experience three natural phenomena:
• The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
• The Midnight Sun
• The Polar Nights
For those who enjoy urban lifestyles, Scandinavia’s capitals offer history, metropolitan atmosphere, combined with tradition and a warm welcome to all visitors. Scandinavians love to celebrate outdoors, especially in the warm summer months, with a memorable event in every weekend.
Scandinavia has something for every taste – whether you are interested in museums, castles, shopping, amusement parks, or nightlife – and it is cheaper than most people think. Furthermore, almost everyone speaks English.
It is easy to think of Scandinavia as one country. In June 1397 the three Kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark formed the “Kalmar Union”. The Union lasted until Sweden rebelled and became independent in 1523, under King Gustav I Vasa. At the same time, Norway sank to the status of a Danish province (1536).
Brief History about Norway…
Norwegians, like the Danes and Swedes, are of Teutonic origin. The Norsemen, also known as the Vikings, ravaged the coast of northwest Europe from the 8th to the 11th century, and were ruled by local chieftains. Olav Haraldsson became the first King of all Nor in 1016, and began converting the Norwegians to Christianity. Norway expanded its control overseas to parts of Britain, Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland. Norwegian power peaked in 1265, but competition from the Hanseatic League and the spread of the Black Death weakened the country. After 1442, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark – ruled by a Danish King until 1814, when it was united with Sweden.
Sweden went to war with Norway, but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish King. In 1905 the Norwegian parliament arranged a peaceful separation and invited a Danish Prince to the Norwegian throne – King Haakon 7. Norway remained neutral in World War 1. Despite its declaration of neutrality in World War 2, Norway was occupied for 5 years by forces of Nazi Germany. In 1949 it abandoned neutrality, becoming a founding member of NATO.
Discovery of oil in adjacent waters in the late 1960's boosted Norway’s economic fortunes. The country maintains a welfare model with universal health care, subsedised higher education and a comprehensive social security system. Key domestic issues include maintaining the country´s extensive social safety net with an aging population and preserving economic competitiveness. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.
King Harald 5. is Norway’s head of state and Erna Solberg became Prime Minister on 16 October 2013, replacing Jens Stoltenberg, and the government made a shift from being a labor to a conservative government. It has administrative subdivisions on two levels, known as counties (fylke) and municipalities (kommuner). The Sámi people have a certain amount of self-determination and influence over traditional territories through the Sámi Parliament and the Finnmark Act.
Norway maintains close ties with the European Union and its member countries (despite rejecting full EU membership in two referenda, as well as with the United States. Norway participates with United Nations forces in international missions, notably in Afganistan, Kosovo, Sudan, and Libya. Norway is a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe, and the Nordic Council – a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO and the OECD; and is also a part of the Schengen Area.
OSLO - The Capital of Norway
Oslo is the capital of Norway with approx. 650,000 inhabitants. It has a pleasure temperature during summer, and in September, when the leaves are changing colors to yellow, red and brown, the sun is shining from a clear, blue sky.
Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Holmenkollen National Ski Arena is the most visited tourist attraction in Norway. The first ski jump on this site was built in 1892. It includes the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Jump Tower, shops, a cafe and a ski simulator. Holmenkollen hosts World Cup Nordic skiing events every winter, and in 2011 the new state-of-the-art ski jump and arena hosted the FIS Nordic World Championships. Inside the ski jump is the world’s oldest ski museum, opened in 1923, with 4,000 years of skiing history on display. The viewing deck on top has panoramic views of Oslo.
Vigelandsparken, also known as Frognerparken, is one of the most popular places to meet for people living in Oslo. In summertime you will find hundreds of Norwegians having a picnic or barbecue, or playing among the famous sculptures. The park is also a popular place for a stroll in the winter.
One of the most famous sculptures is the Monolith. The column is over 42 feet tall and carved in one single stone. It consists of 121 human figures. There have been many interpretations of the Monolith: Man’s resurrection, the struggle for existence, Man’s yearning for spiritual spheres, the transcendence of everyday life and cyclic repetition.
Gustav Vigeland modeled all his sculptures in full size without any assistance of pupils or other artists. The carving in stone and the casting in bronze were left to a number of talented craftsmen.
Vigeland also designed the architectural setting and the layout of the grounds with their far stretching lawns and long straight avenues bordered with maple trees. The construction of the park lasted for a number of years.
Norsk Folkemuseum (Museum of Cultural History)
The exhibits are located in the Open-Air Museum and in the exhibit halls. They feature daily life and living condition in Norway from the 16th century to present time. Nearly 160 authentic historical buildings can be seen in a parklike setting divided into countryside and old town. Some of the buildings in the museum date back to the 1200's, such as our famous Stave Church.
Oslo Opera has become a new landmark for the city and proved an instant success with both locals and tourist. It was officially opened in April 2008, and the number of visitors has passed 10 million. The Oslo Opera House was designed by the acclaimed Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta. The opera, which took five years to complete, sits on the bank of the Bjørvika district, near the stock exchange and the central station. It is the largest cultural building to be built in Norway since the construction of the Nidaros Catherdral in Trondheim at the start of the 14th century.
From the outside, the most striking feature is the white sloping marble roof which rises directly up from the Oslo fjord, allowing visitors to enjoy a stroll and take in views of the city. If you see the building from the fjord you will notice Norway´s biggest area of solar panels, supplying the building with some of the energy its needs. The opera has also won an array of awards, both at home and abroad, including the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Prize (2009) and the International Architecture Award 2010. It was also named World Cultural Building of the Year in 2008.
Up until 1982 Aker Brygge consisted of a shipyard and mechanical industry, but from 1985 one of Oslo’s largest property projects became a tourist magnet with car free areas, shops, cultural offers and restaurants, bars and cafés.
Aker Brygge’s restaurants have a seating capacity of 5000, 2500 of which are outdoors. This area has something for every taste and wallet, but the selection is probably best for persons with well-lined wallets. The waterfront along the fjord is teeming with activity 24 hours a day, particularly in summer, and it doesn’t cost anything to wander along the quay and enjoy life.
The City of BERGEN
The city of Bergen was founded in 1070 AD by Olav Kyrre, king of Norway. It is surrounded by seven mountains, and has a population of 272,800 per 2014.
Bergen is an international city full of history and tradition, a city with small-town charm and atmosphere. Bergen offers you the ideal combination of nature, culture and exhilarating city life.
The picturesque and lively Fish Market in Bergen is one of Norway’s most visited outdoors markets and has a charming location in the heart of the city. The Fish Market also sells fruit, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts and souvenirs. It is known since 1278.
Work on Fløibanen started in the autumn of 1914. It was originally estimated to take 12–18 months to complete, but the First World War and subsequent shortage of materials meant it took much longer. Fløibanen opened on 15 January 1918 and has been in continuous operation ever since. Fløibanen is Bergen’s biggest tourist attraction and one of the most popular in Norway. It is Norway’s only cable railway for passenger transport, with around 1.3 million journeys made every year.
Bryggen – the Hanseatic Wharf
Bergen’s first buildings were erected along the old, Hanseatic wharf, “Bryggen”, which has been a lively and important part of the city through the centuries. This site, which features on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, comprises the remains of the old harbour buildings and is one of the best known medieval city settlements in Norway.
The Hanseatic merchants dominated Bryggen for 400 years. The area has been ravaged by fire repeatedly. Walking through the narrow alleyways and dark external galleries is like travelling back in time. At Bryggen the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene, the Hanseatic assembly rooms, give an intimate picture of the life of a Hanseatic merchant.
The “Hanseatic Museum” is situated in one of the old trade houses at Bryggen. The museum has old interiors from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Hanseatic League had one of their foreign Offices at Bryggen in Bergen from approx. 1360 until 1754. The Hanseatic merchants traded mainly with stock-fish from Northern Norway and grain from the Baltic countries. Only German merchants were allowed to live at Bryggen during the period of the Hanseatic Office.
The Hanseatics were unmarried and had to live in celibacy as long as they lived in the area. The tenements in the Bryggen area each consists of several smaller trade houses, each run by a merchant with a journeyman and apprentices. All of them lived in the house. The Hanseatic Museum shows us what one of these trade houses would be like in the last years of the German Office at Bryggen.
Neither light nor heating was allowed in the tenements at Bryggen because of the danger for fire. The building which houses the Hanseatic Museum was built after a large fire in 1702 which destroyed almost the entire town. The building is the only one in the area in which the old interiors have been preserved.
Troldhaugen – Home of the composer Edvard Grieg
The Villa was built in 1885, and was the home of Edvard Grieg and his wife, Nina for 22 years – in the summers. Troldhaugen became a museum already in 1928 and includes Grieg’s Villa, the composer’s hut and the Grieg couple’s grave site as well as a modern museum building and the concert hall Troldsalen, a chamber music hall seating 200 people. Troldsalen is the center of the museum’s extensive concert activities and has excellent acoustics.
THE MOUNTAINS & FJORDS
Aurlandsfjellet National Tourist Route is a 29-mile-long stretch of road between Aurlandsvangen by the Aurlandsfjord and Lærdal by the Sognefjord in the county of Sogn og Fjordane in Fjord Norway.
The road between Aurland and Lærdal has its highest point at 4,284 feet above sea level. There is snow along the road most of the summer.
There are three panoramic view- and rest areas along the Aurlandsfjellet National Tourist Route:
The new installation at Stegastein expresses the architects’ desire to lift the visitors out into open space, and thereby enhance the experience of the panoramic view over the Aurlandsfjord. Viewing platform, parking lot and services. Stegastein is made of laminated timber and steel, this platform sticking 98 feet out into the air, 2,132 feet above the fjord.
Flotane has for many years been a popular spot to make a stop, and has now been upgraded with service facilities, picnic tables and a spacious parking area. This is also a starting point for hikes along the old construction road leading into the mountains.
At Vedahaugane, travelers can enjoy the view of the nearby mountains and valley as well as the peaks of the Jotunheimen Mountains.
Experience the fjord and waterfalls such as Brudesløret (the Bridal Veil) and De syv søstrene (the Seven Sisters) from one of the many available sightseeing trips.
The deep blue Geirangerfjord is protected by UNESCO, and surrounded by majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks, wild waterfalls and lush, green vegetation.