The World Heritage Rock Art Centre, Alta Museum, is situated in the municipality of Alta in Finnmark. The place is called ‘Hjemmeluft’, and is approximately 5 km west of downtown Alta. In the surroundings of the museum, you will find one of the five areas of rock art. The museum was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The museum is open all year round.
The rock art trips
But even if the museum is open all year, you should come during summer. That’s when the outdoor rock art areas are open and available for the audience. You can walk two different routes; a shorter trip of 1.2 km or the full trip of 3 km. The shorter trail of 1.2 km will take you to carvings that have been painted in red. This makes them easier to see in different weather conditions. On the eastern side are the unpainted rock carvings. Some of these can be difficult to spot in cloudy conditions.
You can experience the rock carvings through a guided tour or on your own. If you go alone, use the leaflet and/or the audio guide. Inside the museum there are various exhibitions, a museum shop, and a café with a view of the Alta fjord.
7000 years old
The rock art in Alta is one of the eight Norwegian entries on the UNESCO World Heritage List (+ 3 Geo-parks). The world heritage in Alta consists of five areas of both rock carvings and rock paintings, the oldest of which are more than 7000 years old. The rock art came to be over a period of five thousand years. In this time Alta was an important meeting point for people from both coastal and inland areas.
6000 documented carvings
The rock art was made by hunter and gatherers, and in the Alta region more than 6000 carvings have been documented. More than 3000 of these can be found in ‘Hjemmeluft’, by the museum. This is the only area that has been made accessible to the public. In the snow-free period of the year a set of trails will lead you through the world heritage area outdoors, and you can choose between various options to learn about the world heritage of Alta; a guide leaflet, an audio guide, or a personal guide.
The rock art in Alta were included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The reasoning for this entry was the following:
The rock art in Alta, comprising thousands of paintings and carvings, is an outstanding testimony of aspects of the life, the natural surroundings and the activities of the hunter-gatherers in the arctic area in prehistoric times.
The great variation in motifs and scenes has a high artistic quality, and reflect a long tradition of interaction between hunter-gatherers and the nature, as well as the development of symbols and rituals from around 5000 BC to year 0.
How to get there?
If you have found your way to Alta and northern Norway from the south, you should consider Kystriksvegen, the Scenic Route Lofoten, the Scenic Route Andøya, and the Scenic Route Havøysund. If you’re on an adventure bike, why not also consider Trans Euro Trail (TET) section 3.