Nordvegen History Centre

The first King seat in Norway


Kong Augvalds veg 103, 4262 Avaldsnes


59.3547744, 5.2924094


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Do you know the origin of the name of our country? Do you know why its called NORWAY? No? Neither did I, but according to this Viking saga, it comes from Avaldsnes near Haugesund on the west coast.

Most people know Avaldsnes as the royal residence of Harald Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre), the king who unified Norway into one kingdom, but Avaldsnes was the seat of kings long before Harald Fairhair decided to settle down here in year 870. In fact, it is the first Royal seat in Norway!

The North Way

For 3,000 years, Avaldsnes was home to chieftains and sea kings who ruled the narrow strait of Karmsundet. If you ruled Karmsundet, you ruled the shipping traffic and trade to the rest of Norway. They called the route Nordvegen (The North Way). Norðvegr, Norway, Norge, Norwegen… you pick the language, but they all point back to this shipping route; Nordvegen. (How cool is that!!)

The History Center’s Hidden Gem

Most of the Nordvegen History Center at Avaldsnes lies underground, preserving the integrity of the medieval church and historical landscape. But from Karmsundet Strait, you can admire the majestic building’s glass and concrete front. From the top of the plateau, by the church, you can see the round entrance symbolizing Mime’s Well, the well of wisdom in Norse mythology.

Unveiling Stories

Through films, sound clips, lights, figures, and objects, the Nordvegen History Centre tell tales of old. You might meet Harald Fairhair, and other rulers known from sagas, heroic tales, and archaeological discoveries. The Norse God Odin himself visited Avaldsnes in 998 AD, sharing stories with present King Olav Tryggvason. In the 17th century, Tormod Torfæus wrote the first Norwegian history in Latin while visiting here.

Follow the Vikings

Avaldsnes is part of the European Viking Cultural Route called FOLLOW THE VIKINGS. The Viking Age (750–1100) saw Norway, Sweden, and Denmark rise as political forces across Europe. Vikings were not only pirates and warriors but also sailors, merchants, craftsmen, and nation-builders. The exhibition is telling the story of Avaldsnes as a meeting place between coastal Norway and Europe – from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. The main focus is on the period 200 – 1400 B.C.

If you’re in the Viking spirit, why not also visit Haraldshaugen, which is said to Harald Hairfair’s burial place – just north of Haugesund.

YouTube video by Life in Norway

Other locations in this part of Norway:

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