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“An architectural and historical gem”
Review of Urnes Stave Church

Urnes Stave Church
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Urnes Stave Church is the only stave church on the UNESCO World Heritage List (since 1979), and is an outstanding example of traditional North-Western European wooden architecture. It brings together traces of Celtic art, Viking traditions and Romanesque spatial structures. The wooden church was built in the 12th Century and is surrounded by a medieval cemetary and situated on the Ornes promontory in the dramatic, steep fjord landscape of Western Norway. The stave churches constitute one of the most elaborate and technically advanced types of wooden construction that formerly existed in North-Western Europe. Today they are only found in Norway where 28 of them are preserved. Of these Urnes stave church is the most outstanding and oldest example. The church is unique both as a representative of the highest technical standard in wood construction during the middle ages and as an artistic object. The church expresses in wood the language and spatial structures of Romanesque stone architecture. Some reused outside panels from an earlier 11th Century church have sculpted decor of exquisite quality in the Celitic/Viking tradition known as the Urnes style. The carvings are of an unparalleled quality and depicts different biblical and mythical creatures. The carvings are important both as outstanding artistic artifacts, and as a link between the pre-Christian Nordic culture and the Christianity of the medieval ages. The carvings are also a sign of the cultural and religious connection between Norway and the Celtic people on the British isles.
San Antonio, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“An architectural and historical gem”
Reviewed August 27, 2012

There's something about visiting an 850-year-old wooden church that's different than touring one made of stone--perhaps because it's such a miracle that it survived. According to our guide, it's the oldest stavkirke in Norway, and escaped destructive wood rot because it was built on a stone base. There are panels from an even earlier church that have been built into the external side of the building with incredible carvings of snakes, dragons, and other stylized creatures--looked like the designs might have been influenced by celtic artistry. It does take a bit of doing to actually GET to this World Heritage site; we had to take a ferry from across the fjord. However, its isolation actually seemed to enhance the overall experience. The Urnes stavkirke really is uniquely beautiful and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Visited August 2012
2 Thank Mary1744360
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New York City, New York
Level 6 Contributor
201 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“Really 4 1/2 stars”
Reviewed July 1, 2012 via mobile

Great looking stave church. Well constructed and the best interior of the 3 I saw. No pictures inside was a bummer. The reason given was really lame. She told me that people who take pics take pics and really don't know anything about what they just too a pic of. I told her I had just listened to her for 30 minutes explain everything about the church. I now knew what it was I was going to photograph. She told me she didn't want pics to appear on the Internet. What was really ludicrous was the fact that there was a professional photographer there right before I got there. I am sure nothing will go on the Internet now.

1 Thank Semelg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
elizabeth city
Level 5 Contributor
71 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Well worth the time to get there”
Reviewed October 31, 2011

I have to say I was really looking forward to visiting the Urnes and it didn't disappoint. The weather varied from light rain to pouring during our trip but I didn't let it get to me. Public transportation is very limited in this part of Norway so plan well! No photos inside but the tour guide did give an excellent presentation. If you are coming from Solvorn it is a steep 20 minute walk uphill. There are some nice views--especially on the way down. The photos don't do it justice. I'll never forget the smell of the old wood and tar. On our Scandinavia trip Western Norway and Aero Island in Denmark were the highlights.

Visited June 2011
1 Thank beaufordtjustice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gothenburg, Sweden
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Urnes stavkirkje - the queen of all stav churches”
Reviewed August 28, 2011

Instead of taking quite a steep walk from the ferry, I brought my car! It was worth while!

I have visited most stav churches in Norway the past years. I must say this church provides the very best of guides. Very well educated and they certainly know a lot about that particular church as well as religion, etc.

It is a beautiful church - very close to it's original state. I took a couple of hours at Urnes; listening to the guides within the church, as well as taking photographs and having a cup of coffee at the nearby café.

If you are interested in stav churches this is a must see!

From the church I drove along the fjord, instead of taking the ferry back. Lovely view from the road, but it narrows down in parts and it takes a good driver to drive there. Also a couple of tunnels without any lights.

Visited August 2011
2 Thank KerstinS5041
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Remote, impressive location with a magnificent atmosphere”
Reviewed August 21, 2010

Visiting Urnes (Ornes) just weeks ago we found the site really great.
You reach Urnes either by ferry or via a 20 km long road rather narrow in places. We used the ferry and parkes right beside the landing, taking a 2 km walk (metallized road through orchards with apples and raspberries) to this, the oldest stavkirkje in Norway.
The inside can only be visited with a tour guide after buying a ticket. Strongly advisable, when the tour guide is good (ours was) the whole dark ages and the beginnings of Christianity kind of revive.

3 Thank henk_berens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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