Sognefjord, Norway 2018
On June 24th, 2018 I entered the Sognefjord. Rising almost vertically from the water’s edge, the mountains that line Sognefjord dwarf any large ship entering this spectacular arm of the sea. It is truly awesome. Great walls of granite, probably 2,000 million years old, rise up to 900 meters above the inlet. Waterfall, like thin ribbons, cascade over the dark rocks.
Pictured below is a nice view of the Sognefjord at a viewing platform called the Stegastein.
The Sognefjord is the longest in Norway, extending inland for 184 km. at its widest point it is 5 km and its waters are a staggering 1,200 m deep. The fjord was formed when glaciers carved into the underlying rock bed during the ice age, creating the sheer granite walls on view today. As this ice slowly melted, the sea rose, and the valley was drowned.
The next day on June 25th, I crossed the Sognefjord to visit the Urnes Stave Church. The Urnes Stave Church, (pictured below) is the oldest of Norway’s stave churches, and is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
It was built around 1130 AD, but the distinctive and extraordinary carvings on the north portal are from an even older church. Dating from the late eleventh century, they took the form of a beguiling mix of interlaced ribbon-snakes and dragons.
This type of architecture takes the name from the staves (upright posts) that formed the framework of the building. The area around the center of the nave is often raised so that the multiple roofs are slightly reminiscent of a pagoda. They may also feature finials shingle-cladding and external galleries.
Pictured above, is a view from the Central Nave, looking toward the Chancel Extension (built around 1600). On the left is the Krokastolen, an enclosed pew from 1662, (It was also called the “Munthe Family Pew”). In the lower right, you can see a Medieval bishops chair. Straight ahead is the Alter-piece from the 1690s. A medieval candelabra in the shape of a ship stands on the altar. Hidden behind the Chancel screen, on the left, is the Baptismal bowl mounted on one of the staves. The Pulpit from the 1690s is barely seen on the extreme right, above the pews.