The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


22 Apr 2011
  Happy Easter

I wish everyone a happy, blessed Easter with many tasty, or readable, eggs. *grin*

Since I don't have any new spring photos yet, though spring is really here, birch pollen and all, let's go for one of those gorgeous sunsets in the Arctic Sea.

Sunset near the North Cape

The Norwegian landscape knows how to look dramatic, that's for sure.
 


17 Apr 2011
  The Farthest North

Here's the second posts about the Hurtigruten, with pictures from north of the Arctic Circle. It was really still winter there, but since it's past the equinox, the days are already long and there's an extended period of twilight, the blue hour. But due to the west coast weather, there often was a lot of fog and haze.

Snow covered mountains near Tromsø

There was a neverending array of those in all shapes and sizes. Long stretches of the route go between islands and the mainland, and that way you often get mountains on both sides. It made the Hurtigruten possible in the first place, since the Arctic Sea can be very rough and dangerous in winter, albeit the navigation in the sometimes small passages is tricky as well (at least it was in times before GPS).

Gisund Bridge

Gisund Bridge is a 1147 metres long cantilever bridge that crosses the Sound of Gisund and connects the island of Senja with the mainland. There are several bridges, both cantilever and suspension, that are part of the road system these days, but the Gisund bridge is one of the largest. Its main span is 143 metres at a height of 41 metres above sea level.

Ishavskatedralen in Tromsø

The Arctic Cathedral is one of the landmarks of Tromsø, the largest town north of the Arctic Circle. It was built in 1965 by Jan Inge Hovig. The eleven aluminium-coated concrete panels resemble the shape of ice shoals, and the large windows at the east and west sides allow for lots of light to come in during summer time (though the east window had to be replaced by a coloured mosaic because there was just too much light).

'Blue hour' on a surprisingly calm Barent Sea

I had expected the Barent Sea to be stormy and was a bit surprised I caught it at a very calm time, but thus it gave me that beautiful blue twilight instead of storm grey. At that point of the journey we were further east than Istanbul - it doesn't look like it on most maps, but a globe may show you how much that upper hook of Norway tilts eastward. Norway keeps one time, though the time zone of that area is technically Moscow time which made for the odd experience of daylight at 2.30 am in April.

Dog sleighing near Kirkenes

This was a really fun excursion. I had booked it in advance which was a good thing because there are limited slots. You got to sit in a sled that was guided by a musher and drawn by eight tail-wiggling Huskies with goofy grins who just wanted to run and didn't like to stop, which we had to do several times because our team was faster than the one ahead of us. I can't blame the dogs; I liked it fast, too.

Ice sculptures in the snow hotel near Kirkenes

There are several snow hotels in northern Scandinavia, the most famours is the one of Kiruna in Sweden, but the Kirkenes hotel is very pretty, too. It has 20 rooms that are all decorated differently, and an ice bar. The beds are shaped of snow and ice, but the coverings looked comfortable enough. Though you proabably have to stick your nose under the pillow if you don't want to look like Rudolph the Reindeer.

Vardøhus fortress

Vardøhus is the world's northernmost fortress. The first fortification can be traced back to the early 14th century and was built by Håkon V Magnusson during the conflict with Novgorod. The present buildings meanwhile date to 1738 - 1825. The fortress is still used by the army, though there has never been any fight during its long history. It's actually a quite charming place due to the style of the houses with their rustic grass roofs.

Impressions from a bus tour through the Vesterålen

A bus tour through Hinnøya, the largest island of the Vesterålen archipelago, provided a good chance to get a different perspective of a little bit of the country. The bus did stop a few times, but I managed to get a few decent photos out of the running vehicle (I'm getting better at that, it seems) like the above.
 


  A Voyage into Winter - The Hurtigruten Cruise

I wanted to do the Hurtigruten tour for years, and in the winter season it's half the price for a voyage that leads along the Norwegian coast from Bergen all the way up to Kirkenes at the Russian border, crossing the Arctic Circle and circling the North Cape, and back again. The Hurtigruten started out as post service with some bunks for passengers in 1893, and has over time morphed into a mix of cruise, ferry service and freight transport. It's still an unusual cruise with no captain's dinner and entertainment on board (the landscape is entertainment enough), and with a lot more stops that a normal cruise. There's time to visit some of the towns along the way, and guided tours to fun places like a reindeer farm.

Copenhagen

My journey took me first to Copenhagen and Roskilde, then by ferry to Oslo, and next by train to Bergen where the Hurtigruten starts. I left a day early at Trondheim on the way back to get more time for that town; and took the train to Oslo.

Roskilde Cathedral

The cathedral of Roskilde in Denmark dates to the 12th and 13th centuries and is the first Gothic church to have been built of brick. It served as model for the brick churches of Lübeck, Stralsund, Wismar and other towns. The cathedral is also the burial place of the Danish kings. The westwork shown in the photo is an impressive structure.

Hamlet's Elsinore, Kronborg Fortress near Helsingör

Kronborg castle was developed as Renaissance palace in 1585, with additional fortifications dating to the late 17th century. Because of its location in the town of Helsingör, the Elsinore of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the fortress is connected with this semi-historical character, and the play. It is also said to be the place where the legendary hero Holger the Dane (Ogier li Danois in the French chansons de geste) sleeps until great need arises and he will awaken again.

Winter in the Oslofjord

The overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo was a voyage into winter indeed. There were even some ice shoals in the fjord. I love traveling by ferry and train, it gives you a better feel for the distance than flying, and entering the Oslofjord by ship after the sun has risen is a beautiful way to arrive in Norway.

Winter evening in the mountains near Geilo

The railway connecting Oslo and Bergen, the Bergenbanan, competes with the West Highland Line for the most scenic route in Europe, and I'm not going to decide on a winner here. I brought my portable CD player and listened to some of my favourite music while watching the landscape pass by and taking some photos (the above is one that worked out fine); it was a wonderful experience.

Hansa Quarter (the Bryggen) in Bergen

The quarter - kontor - of the members of the German Hanse in Bergen was established in 1360 and still in use until the early 18th century, but the Hanseatic League had long since lost its economical and political importance. After a fire in 1955 the quarter seemed to be lost, but in the end it was decided to rebuild it. The photo shows the waterfront of a veritable labyrinth of buildings, walkways and stairs.

Håkon's Hall, Bergen

Håkon's Hall was built as royal banqueting and representation hall by king Håkon Håkonarson between 1247 and 1261. It is part of Bergenhus fortress and a fine example of a Gothic hall, likely influenced by Anglonorman architecture. Håkon was very interested in the Anglonorman culture and had fe. several French epics translated into Old Norse.

The Richard With, my home for eleven days

The Richard With is named after the founder of the Hurtigruten Line. It was built in 1993, is 121 metres long and 19 wide, and has a maximum speed of 18 knots. It's one of the medium sized ships of the fleet with 466 beds. I caught her docking in Sortland after I returned from an excursion.

Light in a land of water and mountains

This one was taken near Alesund - it is only one of many photos of the various changes of light and atmosphere during the voyage. The gulf stream keeps the waters from freezing, but there's still snow on the mountains at this time of the year, and the climate is typical for a westcoast.

Rainbow

This could be right from the cover of a travel magazine. The Norwegian flag in the stern of the Richard With, framed by one of those beautiful rainbows I saw during my voyage.

It was really still winter north of the Arctic Circle, but since it's past the equinox, the days are already long and there's an extended period of twilight, the blue hour. But due to the west coast weather, there often was a lot of fog and haze.

Snow covered mountains near Tromsø

There was a neverending array of mountains in all shapes and sizes. Long stretches of the route go between islands and the mainland, and that way you often get mountains on both sides. It made the Hurtigruten possible in the first place, since the Arctic Sea can be very rough and dangerous in winter, albeit the navigation in the sometimes small passages is tricky as well (at least it was in times before GPS).

Gisund Bridge

Gisund Bridge is a 1147 metres long cantilever bridge that crosses the Sound of Gisund and connects the island of Senja with the mainland. There are several bridges, both cantilever and suspension, that are part of the road system these days, but the Gisund bridge is one of the largest. Its main span is 143 metres at a height of 41 metres above sea level.

Ishavskatedralen in Tromsø

The Arctic Cathedral is one of the landmarks of Tromsø, the largest town north of the Arctic Circle. It was built in 1965 by Jan Inge Hovig. The eleven aluminium-coated concrete panels resemble the shape of ice shoals, and the large windows at the east and west sides allow for lots of light to come in during summer time (though the east window had to be replaced by a coloured mosaic because there was just too much light).

'Blue hour' on a surprisingly calm Barent Sea

I had expected the Barent Sea to be stormy and was a bit surprised I caught it at a very calm time, but thus it gave me that beautiful blue twilight instead of storm grey. At that point of the journey we were further east than Istanbul - it doesn't look like it on most maps, but a globe may show you how much that upper hook of Norway tilts eastward. Norway keeps one time, though the time zone of that area is technically Moscow time which made for the odd experience of daylight at 2.30 am in April.

Dog sleighing near Kirkenes

This was a really fun excursion. I had booked it in advance which was a good thing because there are limited slots. You got to sit in a sled that was guided by a musher and drawn by eight tail-wiggling Huskies with goofy grins who just wanted to run and didn't like to stop, which we had to do several times because our team was faster than the one ahead of us. I can't blame the dogs; I liked it fast, too.

Ice sculptures in the snow hotel near Kirkenes

There are several snow hotels in northern Scandinavia, the most famours is the one of Kiruna in Sweden, but the Kirkenes hotel is very pretty, too. It has 20 rooms that are all decorated differently, and an ice bar. The beds are shaped of snow and ice, but the coverings looked comfortable enough. Though you proabably have to stick your nose under the pillow if you don't want to look like Rudolph the Reindeer.

Vardøhus fortress

Vardøhus is the world's northernmost fortress. The first fortification can be traced back to the early 14th century and was built by Håkon V Magnusson during the conflict with Novgorod. The present buildings meanwhile date to 1738 - 1825. The fortress is still used by the army, though there has never been any fight during its long history. It's actually a quite charming place due to the style of the houses with their rustic grass roofs.

Impressions from a bus tour through the Vesterålen

A bus tour through Hinnøya, the largest island of the Vesterålen archipelago, provided a good chance to get a different perspective of a little bit of the country. The bus did stop a few times, but I managed to get a few decent photos out of the running vehicle (I'm getting better at that, it seems) like the above. The bus did stop so we could visit this charming little church.

Stone church in Trondenes (Vesterålen)

This is the oldest stone church north of the Arctic Circle. There's a bit of a discussion about the exact date the church was built, either about 1250 or 1440. It definitely replaced an older timber church from the 11th century. There are also remains of fortifications from that date that once protected the timber church from attacks from the sea side.

Entrance to the mist-veiled Trollfjord (Lofoten archipelago)

In summer the ship enters the Trollfjord, one of the most narrow passages on the way, but the amount of snow on the mountains makes for a significant danger of avalanches this time of the year, and since the ship has to get close to those steep slopes, that's not unproblematic. But I could get a glimpse because I went on a sea eagle safari in a smaller boat. Yes, I did see eagles but the skuas were more willing to fly model in front of my camera.

Sunset in the Brønnøysund

With this one were's south of the Arctic Circle and here spring slowly makes it way north. There was less snow and even a few specks of genuine green among all the brown and yellow, but it took until I arrived back in Germany to fully meet spring. It really had worked hard on that green thing during the time I was away.

The Richard With

I left the Richard With in Trondheim where I stayed another two days, and then continued to Oslo by train.

Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim

The cathedral of Nidaros, as Trondheim was called in the Middle Ages, took a long time in building, from 1070 to 1327. Thus it's a mix of Romanesque and - preeminently - Gothic elements. The cathedral suffered severe damage by fire several times, so the building had to be restored in part; a task that was finished in 2001. The most striking feature is the westwork with its rich decoration of large stone sculptures.

Historical farmhouses, Trondelag Folkemuseum

The Trondelag Open Air Museum is situated around the ruins of the oldest stone castle in Norway, Sverre's castle near Trondheim. It houses a collection of different buildings that were - and in some cases still are - typical for the area. The age of the buildings varies from an old church of 1170 to 19th century town houses. Most of the buildings are farm houses, stables and sheds though, and they make for a lovely scenery among the trees and rocks.

Spring is coming to Norway

I took this photo from out of the train window on the way from Trondheim to Oslo. The ice on the rivers and lakes in the inland is the last trace of winter to give way, but the snow had been melting those last days even in a skiing district like Lillehammer. The Norwegians need to travel further north for their customary Easter fun.

Gokstad ship, Viking Ship Museum Oslo

I've visited two Viking ship museums during this tour, the ones in Roskilde and in Oslo. The museum in Oslo houses the ships found in Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, and additional grave finds from Borre. All three ships had been buried in mounds, together with other beautifully crafted items; most remarkable among them are the cart and the sleighs from the Oseberg find. The museum's eldest part was opened as early as 1926 while the museum in its present 4-winged layout dates to 1957.

The opera house in Oslo

The opera house in Oslo opened in 2008. It won several architecture awards for its unusual ice shoal design, and you can walk onto the roof. Most of the material used is white Italian marble, while the stage tower is clad in white aluminium in a pattern that resembles old weavings. The large windows allow for a lot of light to stream in. In contrast to the white and glass of the exterior, the interior surfaces are covered in oak. I managed to get a ticket for 'Rigoletto'; a fitting celebration of my last night in Norway.

More photos can be found here and here.
 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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All texts and photos (if no other copyright is noted) are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Goettingen, Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

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The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

Along the Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg


Gallia Belgica

The Batavians

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction


Britannia

Roman Frontiers in Britain

The Hadrian's Wall
Introduction
The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend


Mediaeval History

General Essays

Mediaeval Art and Craft

Mediaeval Art
Carved Monsters
The Choir Screen in the Cathedral of Mainz
The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
Mediaeval Monster Carvings
The Viking Treasure of Hiddensee

Medieaval Craftmanship
Goldsmithery
Medical Instruments

Mediaeval Warfare

Mediaeval Weapons
Swords
Trebuchets

Castles and Fortifications
Dungeons and Oubliettes

Essays about Specific Topics

Feudalism

The History of Feudalism
The Beginnings
Feudalism in the 10th Century

Privileges and Special Relationships
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League

The History of the Hanseatic League
Introduction and Beginnings

Hanesatic Architecture
Examples of Brick Architecture

Goods and Trade
Stockfish Trade

The Order of the Teutonic Knights

Wars and Battles
The Conquest of Danzig
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

The Vikings

Viking Ships
The Nydam Ship


Germany

Geneaology

List of Mediaeval German Emperors

Geneaologies
Anglo-German Marriage Connections
Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

Kings and Emperors

The Salian Dynasty
King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

Princes and Lords

Princes
Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

Counts and Local Lords
The Marshals of Ebersburg
The Counts of Everstein
The Counts of Hohnstein
The Lords of Plesse
The Counts of Reichenbach
The Counts of Winzenburg

Famous Feuds

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

Local Feuds
The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars


England

Kings of England

King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

Great Fiefs - The Honour of Richmond
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany

Contested Borders

Northumbria
King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Rebels

A History of Rebellion
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

Foreign Relations
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

A Time of Feuds

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Towns of the Hanseatic League

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


Poland

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


Bohemia
(Including Silesia and Moravia)

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
(to come)


Other Times

Prehistoric Times

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Orkney

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Scandinavia

Gotland
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Biographies

European Nobility
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History in Literature

Biographies of German Poets and Writers
Theodor Fontane

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
(Translated by me)
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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