The UNESCO World Heritage List contains areas or objects that constitute an irreplaceable component of the world's cultural or natural heritage. The World Heritage Convention was drawn up in 1972 to provide special protection to sites whose universal value qualifies them for preservation as part of the world heritage for future generations. Norway ratified the convention in 1977, and there are seven Norwegian sites on the list.
Bryggen in Bergen
During the later Middle Ages, Bryggen (the wharf) in Bergen was a centre of lively international commercial activity. The characteristic rows of parallel, gabled houses facing the sea display a style of architecture that has been maintained for a period of close to 900 years. The properties on Bryggen were composed of one or two long rows of houses with a common passageway. They were combined dwelling and storage houses. Each property had a dock area of its own with a storehouse and a luffing-jib crane. Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the traditional use of the Bryggen area come to an end. With the advent of changes in commercial relations and new means of communication, a way of life lasting 700-800 years ceased to exist.
Mining Town of Røros
The structure and the built-up area of the town reflect the basis for the community's existence, which was agriculture and mining. Mining in Røros started in 1644, and the mines were in continuous operation until 1977. The settlement grew up around the Hitterelva River, which provided power for the copper works. Most of the town burned down in 1678 and again in 1679. City planners kept the square-grid renaissance pattern of the town streets when the town was rebuilt. The built-up area of Røros has evolved slowly and without further drama, and the town’s buildings illustrate developments from the 1700s to today.
Rock Carvings of Alta
The sites at Alta contain a significant collection of carvings, offering visitors insight into the lives of people and their conception of the world over 6000 years ago. The first rock carvings in this area were discovered by accident in 1973. Since then, some 3 000 rock carvings have been found at five different sites. These depictions were created over a long period of time. The oldest drawings were carved in the rock over 6 200 years ago, while the youngest date back 2 500 years old.
Urnes Stave Church
Urnes Stave Church occupies a unique place among the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway in terms of its architecture as well as its style history. The church was built during the second half of the 1100s as a private church for a powerful family in Urnes, and is one of Norway’s oldest and best-preserved stave churches. Its fine wooden carvings testify to the skill of the craftsmen who built it, and its interior is unusually richly decorated. The builders were clearly aware of current international trends in architecture, cleverly transferring these from stone to wood.
The Vega Archipelago on the Helgeland coast comprises 1037 square kilometres of open cultural landscape made up of a myriad of islands, islets and skerries, where fishing and trapping activities have been carried out for ten thousand years. As the islands gradually became inhabited, a distinctive landscape emerged in the interface between the lives of fisher-farmers and the inhospitable but hauntingly beautiful natural environment.
West Norwegian Fjords
The World Heritage Site on the west coast of Norway is comprised of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord. These two fjords represent unique examples of a classic fjord landscape, and each is characterised by spectacular natural beauty. The impact of human activity on these areas is negligible, and there have been no significant technical facilities erected outside of settlement areas. The areas constitute the largest untouched fjord landscapes in Norway, and are considered to be among the most scenic in the world.
Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Geodetic Arc was the first scientific survey on a large scale in Europe. It was carried out under the leadership of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve in the years 1816 to 1852. The Struve Geodetic Arc is unique in its extent and quality, and represents an important achievement in the history of geodetic science.
The World Heritage Site is comprised of 34 points of measurement placed in the 10 countries through which the arc passes: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.