AURLAND MUNICIPALITY

AURLAND MUNICIPALITY

Aurland municipality has many different means of livelihood like farming, tourism, transportation, trade, Hydro Electric Power station, building and construction and industry. Aurland has very good communications. The Flåm Railway goes to Myrdal with correspondence to the Bergen Railway. The only ferry free highway between Oslo - Bergen goes through Aurland. Boat to other parts of the Sognefjord and to Bergen. Mountain road to Lærdal, closed ultimo October - medio May. Local authority: Aurland Inhabitants: 1900 (Aurland, Flåm, Gudvangen and Undredal)

Geology

The oldest bedrock in Aurland is the pre Cambrian rock which thrusts through younger layers in the north-easterly part of the district. Above the bedrock we find, in varying thickness, a layer of phylite.

The third foundation is a massif of outthrust rocks, called the Jotundekket. The rocks in this covering are magmatic, formed a little below the earth's crust. Part of the scenery took its shape 9000 years ago, at the end of the ice age. The ice's advance was either halted, or continued, according to the climatic conditions and moraine ridges and gravel terraces were deposited along the glacier front. They are still visible today (south from Flåm church), as several transverse deltas in the valley.


Phylite rocks

 

Vegetation

The Aurland valley and the mountains surrounding area have for a long time been known as botanical rich, some thing to do with the bedrock containing calcium rich phylite. In addition the summer temperature is high in the valley. There is also very little rain and a low temperature during winter. This is the reason why there are so few of the typical coast plants, but several plants from the east is well presented.


ATTRACTIONS IN AURLAND

Vangen church (1202), was built by an ancient family who lived in Aurland in the Viking age and middle age. The church is built in the early Gothic style influenced by English architecture. A document written in 1714 tells us that the English merchants used to stay in Aurland during long periods to buy different articles and they are supposed to have taken part in the building of the church. Most likely they were have been the master builders. In 1725 came the Danish-Norwegian government in financial problems and the King sold the church. The church remained as private property until late 1800. Then the municipality bought Vangen church back for NOK 500,-. At the last restoration in 1926, the original colors and designs were uncovered. Then the ceiling was taken away and the baldachin over the pulpit was brought back again. A new altarpiece was made. The Norwegian artist Emanuel Vigerland has made the stained-glass windows (two of the windows in the chancel illustrate the story of the Prodigal Son, and the one in the middle, the Saviour). Vangen church is open June, July and August.

Otternes Bygdetun

Otternes is an ancient farm, which was probably cleared for cultivation before the Black Death. Around 1800 there were four farmers at work here. In addition Otternes has provided for up to four cotters. The farm buildings at Otternes are preserved as they were in the nineteenth century, each with a function of its own. Many elements of the old way of farm life are intact, such as kitchen gardens, wells, steps and other stone structures. From Otternes you will have a wonderful view of Flåm and the Aurlansdfjord. Guided tour every day in the summer. Off season: contact the office of culture.

Local History Center


The Gallery Vinjum displays the large collection inherited from the Aurland painter, Johannes Vinjum (1930-91). Sivle collection shows the belongings of the poet Per Sivle who was born in Flåm in 1857. Video room where one can see the film of the sheriff's house at Onstad. At the Local History Center there is also an office with information about emigration. Exhibitions with local thermes from culture and history.

Aurland Knitwear Design is also located in the center where Kjellaug Siegrist produces and sell her products. Open every day in the summer. Off season: contact the office of culture.

The Aurland shoe


The Aurland shoe is well known and has been a kind of trade mark of the district, and was an important item of commerce in the first half of this century. Though the shoe has taken other forms in the past, most people will think of the Aurland shoe as a moccasin-type. During the 1930's, 70-80 people were employed in different manufactures. Today the Aurland shoe factory employ 5 people. Open all year.

Vangen Hydro Electric Power station


The Hydro Electric Power station is not operating in the summer because the water is released out in the Aurland river to secure the fish stock. In this period the Power station is open for the public and one can experience how a Power station works. Oslo Energi (Electric Company) has been responsible for the development of power resources from Aurland watercourse. In 1945 they bought the waterfall rights and started to build the first Power station in 1962. The reservoirs are sited in the mountains north-east and south-west of the valley. Between here and the fjord, power is produced in four stages. Most of the total production of 2,6 thousand million kilowatts goes to supply Oslo with electricity. Guided tour: ultimo June - medio August.

 

The Aurlandsdalen valley


The Aurland valley is a well known hiking trail in Norway with its fabulous nature and contrasting countryside. The valley is rich in history and packed with cultural moments. One can take the hike in several stages: From Geiteryggen where the path starts it is a four hours hike to Steinbergdalen. View to mountain peaks, snow glaciers and lakes. In Steinbergdalen you will find Steinbergdalen mountain lodge, opened in the year 1895.

The next stage goes to Østerbø (4 hours). On this trip you can enjoy a marvelous view over the mountain plateau. Everyone who come to Østerbø should visit the graveyard. That the people in the mountain had to have their own graveyard tells us how difficult life was in the mountains with a long way home to the village and the church. You will find two mountain lodges at Østerbø.


The tird and final stage goes from Østerbø to Vassbygdi. The hike takes approx. 6 hours trough dramatic scenery. You should stop at the ancient farm Sinjarheim. Sinjarheim has been a traditional high-level farm, with a working pattern based on the exploitation of many different kinds of resources.

Farming and settlement in Aurlandsdalen valley


In the middle of the 1830's there were seven working farms in Aurlandsdalen valley. 100 years later, all had been abandoned, and today there are merely a few houses left as a memorial to an earlier period of the valley's history. Farming was probably going on in the valley even before the Black Death, and it is possible that this brought it to a dramatic stop. Several hundreds of years were to pass before it recommenced. Life in these mountain farms was hard, with only a brief growing season, constant danger of landslides, and total isolation for a great part of the winter.

 

FLÅM

The Flåm Railway


The Flåm Railway is a masterpiece in engineering which stords out as one of the 10 most exciting railway journeys in the world. This journey from Flåm to Myrdal is twelve mils long, a descend of 2 838 feet, 20 tunnels with a total length of almost four mils and a gradient of one in 18. To cope with the enormous change in hight over such short stretch, the track runs partly through tunnels which spiral in and out of the mountainside. The gradient is quite exceptional for a normal railway and the carriages are fitted with no less then five different braking circuits, any one of which is sufficient to stop the train.

The Flåm Railway was constructed during the years of 1923 to 1943, as a branch line to the Oslo - Bergen Line. The tunneling was the most difficult and time-consuming part of the construction of the Flåm Railway. All the tunnels were excavated by hand, except the tunnels Nåli and Vatnahalsen, where a machine was used. In autumn of 1936, work had progressed to the point where track-laying could begin. Two steam locomotives were used for this work. By 1938 the tracks had reached Blomheller Tunnel, and in 1939 Furuberget Tunnel, about four kilometers from Flåm.

The outbreak of war in 1940 caused a late start and tracks reached Flåm Station ready for the opening for steam operation on the 1st of August 1940. The Flåm Railway's workhorses and symbol were the class of E1 9 locomotives, which should have been delivered in 1942, but wartime shortages and hostilities meant that they did not start running until 1947. They did duty all the way to 1984, and one of them stands as an exhibit on the quay in Flåm.

Traffic estimates made in 1908 suggested 22 000 passengers per year, but the line quickly did much better than this. In 1994 the line was headed for a new passenger record - 379 625 passengers. Towards the end of the Fifties the Norwegian State Railways' travel agency at Voss started to market what they called "Norway in a Nutshell" as a day-trip for the tourists at Voss. In time the concept grew into an international "attraction".

Technical information:


Length: 20,20 km
Height difference: 863,5 m.
Upper station: 865,5 m.a.s.l.
Lower station: 2,0 m.a.s.l.
Max. gradient: 55 %0 - 1:18
Length > 28 %0: 16 km-17,3%
Min. curve radius: 130 m.
Gauge: 1435 mm
Voltage: 15.000 V -
Frequense: 16 2/3 Hz
Max. speed: 40 km/h
Time: 53 min.
Brake systems: 5
Tunnels: 20
Bridges: 1
Water tunnels: 4
Halts: 8



Flåm church

The present church in Flåm was built in 1667, but the site is known to have been a church site since the middle age. Flåm church is mentioned in written sources going back to 1320. Near the church, on the western side of the river, there was an ancient place of heathen worship, so the site has long traditions as a center of religious life for the village people. The church has been restored several times, and received its present appearance in 1926, when it was painted reddish-brown outside. Internally, the church was restored in 1967. The old decorations, which had been painted over for more than a century, was recovered. During the restoration in 1967 they found an old alter blanket, dating back to the 1300's. You can see this blanket in the old timber house beside the church.

The Rallarvegen


The construction route known as the "Rallervegen" is a one hundred year old man-built transport road designed for the conveyance of man and materials during the building phase of the most mountainous sector of the Bergen Railway. The Navvies' Road as we call it, is 80 kilometers long, extending from Haugast›l through Finse and on to Hallingskeid, and via Vatnahalsen downstream to Flåm. An additional length of 43 kilometers runs from the western end of Myrdal to Upsete, Gravhals tunnel and descends to Raundal valley and on to Voss. The recommended optimum cycling time is three or four days. You can spend the night at tourist cabins and hotels. We recommend that you use a bicycle equipped with stout tires and reliable breaks. Gears are not necessary if you are traveling westwards. Season: approx. 15/7 - 30/9.


UNDERDAL

Stigen farm


Stigen is set 300 meters above sea level, on the western side of the Aurlandsfjord, just south of the borderline between the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. The terrain around Stigen is steep and rugged, and bears little resemblance to one's usual notion of farming country.

There is two farms at Stigen, Øvste Stigen and Nedre Stigen. In 1865 lived seven people on the two farms, they had one horse, 10 cows, 24 goats and a pig. They grew potatoes and rye. The outlying areas have been especially important for hunting. There was continuous settlement in Stigen until 1949. The only access was by a very arduous path from the fjord. Today there are organic farming and organized hiking tours at Stigen.

Undredal


Undredal is a small village surrounded by untouched and powerful nature along the Aurlandsfjord. At the top of the valley you meet a living mountain farm where the trade mark goat cheese is produced. The traditionally rich mountain pastures have always been the basis for varied summer farming. The small cleared fields could produce grain, potatoes and vegetables. Fruit production is also very important as the mountain walls, warmed by the summer sun, kept temperatures moderate. In the 1930's tobacco growing was a source of income. During the 1960's and 70's Undredal's future was insecure since many young people decided that the little village was just too isolated. The population continue to diminish until the new road was completed and now the younger generation have moved back to Undredal. The production of goat cheese has always been a significant factor in Undredal's agricultural history and no less important today. There are two mountain farms still in use. Melhus and Langhuso. At the local shop you can taste and buy goat cheese.

Styvi


Styvi is located on the east side of the well known Nærøyfjord. People have lived here at least since the Viking age, living primarily of domestic animals. Styvi has traditionally been an important link to both the local mail and shipping routes. The 6 kilometer long "King's post road", running along the fjord between Bleiklindi and Styvi, is a part of the old mail link between Oslo and Bergen. The foot path was built around 1660 and was used until the advent of the steamboat in 1860. The path was traditionally used when there was unsafe ice on the fjord. Styvi farm is today a farm museum were you can see a large collection of agricultural artifacts. One can also visit the old farmhouse and other existing farm buildings. Styvi is situated in the Styvi/Holmo landscape conservancy. It is primarily the rugged, untouched wilderness that has led to official protection. Styvi is accessible only by boat or ferry, but there are many connections to and from Lærdal, Kaupanger, Gudvangen, Flåm and Aurland. Contact the tourist information for timetables.


NÆRØYFJORD AND GUDVANGEN

 


The village Bakka and Bakka church
Nærøy community in the parish of Aurland consists of the small villages: Dyrdal, Styvi, Tufte, Bakka and the inhabitants in the Nærøydalen valley up to the regional border towards Voss. The church of this community is situated at Bakka. In the beginning Nærøy belong to Undredal community, and it was the tiny church in Undredal which served the whole area. In those days the transport was by rowing boats or sailboats and it was not easy to get to the church in Undredal in stormy winter weather. So in the 1830's the local people had a strong desire to have their own church. The church was officially inaugurate on 11th of May 1859. The date can be read on one of the chancel panels. The names of those who helped finance the building of the church can also be read there. The church has been drawn by the architect Grosch. Bakka church seats approx. 200 people. The altarpiece dates back from 1907 and was painted by Nils Bergslien. The theme is Jesus in Getsemane. The frame and woodwork was made by the craftsman Magnus Dagestad. The Norwegian Church is Lutheran evangelist. A minister living in the main community of Vangen serves all four churches in Aurland parish. There are about 10 church services per year in Bakka church.

 

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