The first association you get when Norway is mentioned is wilderness that is still not tamed, dark and cold winter which only true Vikings can stand. But underneath all that cover of snow and ice, small gems are hidden. Breathtaking beauty, warmth of people, preserved traditions – everything that once you see it, you feel you want to experience it again.
Norway is also a country with many traditional trades still being presented to younger generations. This creates proud ness and the strong bonds of being part of a community.
Hardanger Maritime Museum is one of this traditional gems hidden in Norheimsund, a small beautiful village situated about 80 kilometres from Bergen on the northern part of the Hardangerfjord.
For all those who want fjord and beautiful nature experiences in addition to visiting workshops with old handcrafts, Norheimsund is the perfect place.
Hardanger Maritime Museum was established in 1984 through funding from the municipalities that surround the Hardangerfjord and also from the sale of shares to private individuals. Their original goal was to give work to “troubled youth” in combination with boat restoration. Today it is one of the institutions of Hardanger and Voss Museum. Recognized as one of the largest boat restoration centers in Nordic countries, they restore listed vessels according to guidelines from the Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Being a museum they have their own restored boats which are kept for tourists’ entertainment.
STORY OF „MATHILDE“
„Mathilde“ is a Hardangerjakt, a large vessel with deck, a gaff rigged sail in combination with square sail, large cargo hold midship and a characteristics stern. She was a part of the boat fleet that traveled up to the northern coast of Norway to purchase cod. After being sold from the district it returned to Hardanger as a 100-year old ship. It needed 5 years to fully restore it.
Even today it has been maintained each year with the financial help of the municipality. „Mathilde“ is proclaimed as being one of the best vessel restorations today and she offers cruises to tourists and lovers of sailing. Spring and autumn is reserved for school children. Kids sail on the boat for a week around the fjords – sleeping, eating and participating in all the activities on the boat. Through practice they learn the secrets and crafts of sailing as well as working like a team. For them it is a unique experience they will remember for a lifetime. It is also possible to just rent a small boat for a small fjord cruise.
Luckily for all the visitors it is not the only craft the museum has in their complex of workshop. For all the helms and rig fittings for boats and vessels they have blacksmith workshop – trying to preserve techniques that has almost disappeared in Norway.
Another workshop is a rope making shop where you can see how the ropes were made before the Industrial Revolution. All the ropes are handmade from natural fibers: hemp, manila hemp, coconut linden fibres. The rope maker who has been working in the centre since 1995 has recently trained the first certified rope makers in Norway in 40 years.
The whole impression you get when visiting Hardanger Maritime Museum is going back in time. Seeing the old handcrafts, just walking around the complex is a unique experience especially for those who enjoy old crafts and want to try them out. Definitely worth seeing if you have spare time!
WHERE TO STAY?
If you are looking for a place to stay, we recommend Bergen HI Hostel Montana which is located on the hillside underneath Mount Ulriken in Bergen. The hostel is ideally situated for day trips to places like Norheimsund.
Article written by Gordana Bulic
Cover photo by Sjaak Kempe