URNES STAVE CHURCH AT ORNES IN LUSTER – UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE

Built right after the Viking age – in the Middle Age there were probably more than 1000 stave churches in Norway. Today, there are only 28 left, nine of them are located in Western Norway. The oldest one is Urnes Stave Church by the Lustrafjord.

Urnes Stave Church at Ornes is the oldest of the remaining stave churches, and is one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Western Norway. The village is called Ornes, but was called Urnes earlier (probably due to Danish influence).

Visit Sognefjord

Visit Sognefjord is the official destination company for the Lustrafjord and Sognefjord area.

Stave Churches in the Fjords

FJORDS NORWAY - Wood carvings on Urnes Stave Church.
Wood carvings on Urnes Stave Church.

A stave church is a wooden church from the Middle Age. Most of the Norwegian stave churches were built right after the Viking Age around year 1100-1200 AD.

The name “stave church” comes from the construction of the buildings; large ground beams of wood are placed on a foundation of stone, then internal wooden pillars (staves) are interconnected and also connected to the outer walls.

Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of the remaining stave churches. The newest one is Kvernes Stave Church, one of our biggest stave churches. Kvernes Stave Church is beautifully located with great view to the Kvernesfjord and Freifjord on the Atlantic Coast in Møre og Romsdal.

It was until recently believed that Kvernes Stave Church was built around year 1300 AD. But after dating new samples of the timber, the church is now dated to year 1633 AD. This is quite a big sensation, it was not believed that the “stave constuction” was used this late.

Undredal Stave Church by the Aurlandsfjord is the smallest church in Norway.

FJORDS NORWAY - Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord. The idyllic Fjord Village Solvorn on the other side of the fjord.
The UNESCO-Protected Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord. The idyllic Fjord Village Solvorn on the other side of the fjord.

Urnes Stave Church by the Lustrafjord

FJORDS NORWAY - The exterior wood carvings make Urnes Stavkirke special and unique.
The exterior wood carvings make Urnes Stave Church special and unique.

Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of the remaining stave churches in Norway, and is one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Western Norway. The church was built around year 1130 AD, and is situated at the fjord village of Ornes by the Lustrafjord. It was probably built and used as a private farm church, while later in the Middle Ages it was used as a parish church.

The latest datings shows that the oldest timber used in the church was cut in the year 1070 AD, while timber from younger parts was cut in the years between 1129–1130 AD. The exterior wood carvings make Urnes Stave Church special and unique. Parts of the woodcarving work are also reflected in the Municipal Coats of Arms in Luster Municipality.

It has also been claimed that there must have been two earlier churches at Ornes before Urnes Stave Church was built. It is believed that some of the wooden material has been reused in Urnes Stave Church.

Ornes and Urnes Stave Church – Season, Guiding and Café

Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.
Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.

A nice way to explore Urnes Stave Church and the beautiful surroundings is to drive to Solvorn and cross the Lustrafjord by ferry to Ornes. From the ferry quay at Urnes, there is only a short walk uphill to Urnes Stave Church.

There is also a road along the east side of the Lustrafjord from Skjolden to Ornes. The road is 30 kilometers long.

The road is narrow and winding and is prone to landslides and avalanches, especially in rainy and snowy weather. There might also be a chance that the road is closed in short periods, especially during winter, due to weather and danger of rock- and snow avalanches and other dangerous conditions.

FJORDS NORWAY - Urnes Stave Church at Urnes by the Lustrafjord.
Urnes Stave Church at Ornes by the Lustrafjord.

During summer you can join a guided “tour” both outside and inside the church. At Urnes Gard near by, there is also a small café where you can buy short travelled and local made refreshments. They produces fruit and berries, as well as juice and jam. There is also the option of overnight accommodation at Urnes Gard.

Urnes Stave Church – Season: Summer. See the official website of Urnes Stave Church for more information about season, opening hours, guiding and about Urnes Stave Church.

Solvorn, Ornes and Feigefossen Waterfall

FJORDS NORWAY - The road between Skjolden and Ornes by the Lustrafjord.
The road between Skjolden and Ornes by the Lustrafjord is narrow and winding.

Solvorn is a beautiful village down by the Lustrafjord. There you have the oldest historical hotel in Norway, the beautiful Walaker Hotel. Eplet Hostel og Jusfabrikk and Villa Solvorn are also located in Solvorn.

From Solvorn you can take the small ferry across the Lustrafjord to Ornes and visit Ornes and Urnes Stave Church. Urnes and the area along the fjord are great starting points for experiences and adventures.

It is about 13 kilometers from Ornes to Feigum. A nice hike is the hike from Feigum to the viewpoint where you can see the Feigefossen Waterfall from up close.

Especially early summer, this is a great sight, when the snowmelt is at its maximum and the water flow in the waterfall is at its most powerful. The hike to the viewpoint is nice and takes around an hour each way, the trail is marked. There is about a 150 meter climb from the start at Feigum to the viewpoint. The trail is rocky in the end and it can be slippery due to water splash from the waterfall. Feigefossen Waterfall has a vertical drop of 229 meters. Season: Summer.

Feigesagi Café is an idyllic café down by the fjord at Feigum, it is open from time to time.

NOTE! This road from Ornes to Feigum and further to Skjolden is narrow and winding, and it can be tight in some sections. Be aware that cars, cyclists and people walking can come towards you and from behind, you must take precautions for this.

Fjord Cycling – Bike tours and mountain hikes by the Sognefjord

On a bike ride by the Lustrafjord. Photo: Veri Media and Fjord Cycling.
On a bike ride by the Lustrafjord. Photo: Veri Media and Fjord Cycling.

Small, idyllic villages. Thundering Waterfalls. Experience Norwegian nature and culture by bike and hike and join self-guided ready made roundtrips from Bergen, to and through the fjord landscape surrounding the Sognefjord.

More than 250 kilometer of idyllic roads with little or no traffic where you will see and experience the hidden gems.

Fjord Cycling has picked from the best of accommodation and sights and made tailored tours for you. You can combine cycling with great hikes, you will experience some of the most beautiful mountain-hikes that the Sognefjord has to offer.

Stay in unique hotels, enjoy fantastic short-travelled food and discover the hidden gems by the Sognefjord, the King of the Fjords. Video by Fjord Cycling.

Lustrafjord – What to See and Do

Lustrafjord.
Lustrafjord.

The Lustrafjord and Luster area is deemed to be one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It is where the fjords meet the top of Norway and the mountains and glaciers never ends. There are many wonderful and exciting things to see and do there.

Solvorn is an idyllic village located down by the Lustrafjord. The oldest historical hotel and one of the finest, the Walaker Hotel, is located in the village. Time has in a way stood still in Solvorn. Many of the original buildings have been preserved and refined.

From Solvorn, you can take the small ferry across the Lustrafjord to Ornes and visit Urnes Stave Church and see the mighty Feigefossen waterfall which reveals itself in the spring. Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of our remaining stave churches in Norway, and is one of four world heritage sites in Western Norway.

The hike to Mt Molden gives you a fantastic view both in and out of the Lustrafjord. The locals claim this is the best view in Luster, and in Luster there are many great viewpoints.

Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedal and Austerdalsbreen glacier at Veitastrond are two of the most beautiful and most easily accessible glaciers in Norway. Mørkridsdalen and Fortunsdalen are two classic areas for mountain hikes near Skjolden, which is located at the innermost part of the Lustrafjord. Stay at Skjolden Hotel in Skjolden, a great hotel with short-travelled food and drinks from the top shelf.

High in the Jotunheimen mountains, the Sognefjellet Mountain Road runs between the Lustrafjord and the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. The Sognefjellet National Tourist Route is the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe with its 1434 meters above sea level at the highest point. Along the road is Turtagrø Hotel, Sognefjellshytta and Krossbu where you can stay and get information and guide to Hurrungane and the mountains and glaciers around Sognefjellet, which is one of Norway’s wildest mountain areas.

The Lustrafjord is approximately 40 kilometers long and is the innermost branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord which is located in the middle of Western Norway.

References

Information from guiding at Urnes Stave Church
Stave Churches in Norway
Wikipedia
Luster Municipality

The Lustrafjord – Hotels and Accommodation

Jostedal – Jostedal Hotell
Jostedal – Jostedal Camping
Fortun/Hurrungane – Turtagrø Hotel
Skjolden – Skjolden Hotel
Skjolden – Skjolden Resort
Lustrafjord – Sørheim Fjordpanorama
Luster – Dalsøren Camping
Luster – Luster Fjordhytter
Luster – Nes Gard
Marifjøra – Marifjøra Sjøbuer
Mollandsmarki – Heil pao kanten
Norway’s oldest hotelWalaker Hotell in Solvorn
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn – Eplet Hostel & Juicefabrikk
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn – Villa Solvorn
Guesthouse in Solvorn – Solvorn Gjestehus
Exclusivity and well-being at HafsloBesteBakken
Hotel in Hafslo – Eikum Hotel
Tungestølen at Veitastrond – Tungestølen Turisthytte

The Lustrafjord – Useful Links

Skjolden – Where fjord meets the mountains: Skjolden.com
Activities in Luster: Visit Skjolden
Solvorn – The idyllic village by the Lustrafjord
The UNESCO Protected Urnes Stave Church
Ferry across the Lustrafjord: Lustrabaatane
Glacier Guiding on Nigardsbreen Glacier: Jostedalen Breførarlag
Breheimsenteret Glacier Center in Jostedal: Breheimsenteret
Mountain Hotel in the Hurrungane Mountains: Turtagrø Hotel
Sognefjellet National Tourist Route: Norwegian Scenic Routes
Guided Kayak Trip on the Lustrafjord: Fjordseal at Marifjøra
Guided Motor Boat Tours at Lake Styggevatnet: Ice Troll

 

HOTELS - ACCOMMODATION - LINKS

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords.

Urnes Stave Church – Map Overview