Overlooking the Lustrafjord, Urnes stave church in Luster is among the oldest stave church in Norway. It has previously been dated to 1130. More resent dating from 2017 claims that the oldest timber is from 1070. Parts of the decor in the church is actually as old as approx. 1050, but they are assumed to come from another, older building in the area.
Unique and UNESCO listed
The church is unique both for its architectonic and cultural historic aspects. The wood carvings and decor is unlike anything else, and resembles the older viking style. Hence the church was listed on the UNESCO World heritage list in 1979.
If you get a chance for a guided tour, you should take it. This will give you some more insight in the history and what makes this church so unique.
Getting to Urnes
Getting to the church is part of this experience, and it’s a small excursion in itself. If you come from the south or west, drive to Solvorn and take the cute little ferry across the Luster fjord. You can bring your car, or park it and take the trip without it. It’s only 1 km from the ferry to the church — but it’s uphill…:-)
Pro-tip: If you come by car, make sure to leave the church 5 minutes before everyone. Then you are first in line waiting for the ferry back to Solvorn. The ferry takes 11 cars, so it can be a long wait if you are last…
If you come from the north on road 55, or by motorcycle, it can be an alternative to drive along the fjord on the east side. Norwegian Scenic Route Sognefjellet runs on the other side of the fjord. But the most scenic part of that route is over the mountain. So if you drive on this or the that side of Lyster fjord, doesn’t really matter.
For updated ferry schedule, check out Lustrabaatane.no