The third stop on our Norwegian cruise was Olden a small Norwegian village with a population of under 1000. It is about 95km inland, at the inner end of the Nordfjord. The Nordfjord ends in three branches, and Olden is situated on the most southerly, at the mouth of the Oldeelva river.
A short walk from the ship took us into the village of Olden, and an 18th century church – Olden Gamle Kyrkje. There has been a church on this site for over 700 years, and it is mentioned in documents dated 1308. The original stave church (of a post and lintel construction) was built in about 1300. Excavations in 1970 revealed stone foundations over 1.2 metres thick, and old carved timbers, some with paintings dating from 1600 and earlier. In 1746 the stave church was demolished, and replaced by a timber church, which was destroyed by a gale eleven years later. The present church was built in 1759, in the shape of a Greek cross (of five squares), making it more resistant to strong winds! The aisles form a Roman cross, and each of the wooden box pews has a door, some bearing a farm or family mark. As the church had no heating or electric lighting, in 1934 it was decided to erect a new building, and the old church is now used only for special services, and more recently for summer concerts. As you can see from the picture, the outside is painted white, but inside it is quite dark, but very quaint, with a quiet reverence about it, as suits an ancient place of worship. Men and women sat on different sides of the church – notice the hat stands on the men’s side!
After lunch we went on a coach tour, passing first through the Olden Valley, or Oldedalen, which stretches for approximately 20km, between steep, snow-capped mountains. Nearby, about 25km south of Olden in the Briksdalen (the Briks valley) and the Briksdal glacier, or Briksdalsbreen, which I visited on my last Norway trip (see May 2012 posts). Briksdalsbreen is in the Jostedal Glacier National Park, and is a glacial arm leading off the northern edge of the Jostedalsbreen. The Jostedal glacier itself is over 95km long and is the largest on mainland Europe. The Briksdalsbreen falls from a height of 1200 metres, down into the narrow Briksdalen valley. The coach took us on through the Stryn Valley (Strynedalen), and Stryn itself, and then round tight hairpin bends high up into the mountains, where there were some glorious views. We then went back down to the Jostalsbreen National Park Centre, where we saw a video about the glacier, and visited a small museum.