Haugesund is a city in the region West Norway of Norway and the Viking capital of the World. Haugesund is Norway's leading commercial centre, situated on the North Sea coast. Commerce, oil, gas and maritime operations, training and conferencing are important to the town's business and industry. The town offers a much wider range of goods and services than might be expected from a town of its size. With its provincial charm, and an enticing range of town-centre shops, along with modern shopping centres on the outskirts of town, visitors have every opportunity for making a great "haul" in Haugesund.
Rent a car on the airport, or travel by bus or taxi. Travel by air with http://www.coastair.no.
For thousands of years there have been human activities on Haugalandet, and the region is covered in traces of these people. Visit one of the many exciting, historic destinations!
King Håkon Håkonsson erected the St. Olav’s Church around 1250 AD as part of the royal farm on Avaldsnes. Next to the church stands one of Norway’s tallest pillars, “Jomfru Marias synål” (Virgin Mary’s Sewing Needle). According to the legend when the pillar touches the church wall it means the end of the world. That is why the priests through the years have chipped off parts of the top. St. Olav’s Church is situated on Avaldsnes, approximately 10 minutes by car south of Haugesund.
Nordvegen History Centre
At Nordvegen History Centre king Harald Fairhair invites us in to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. He is our guide through a 3500 year long history about Avaldsnes as a meeting spot between Norway and Europe, and as a national and, at times, international centre of power. The Viking king presents some of the kings who have controlled the Norwegian coast from Avaldsnes. Some of these kings are known through archaeological findings, and some through tales. The history centre is situated adjacent to St. Olav’s Church.
The Viking farm at Avaldsnes
The Viking farm at Bukkøy is a reconstructed farm at Avaldsnes. The museum provides knowledge about the lives of our ancestors. In the museum courtyard you will find a traditional longhouse as well as smaller dwellings, a Viking boat and plants and animals. During the summer people are dressed in Viking clothes as they display the Vikings’ way of life. You get here by walking from St. Olav’s Church, through the open beautiful landscape before getting to the tree-covered island.
Just north of downtown Haugesund you will find Haraldshaugen, a testimony to the fact that although the city is young, the area has been known and used for thousands of years. Haraldshaugen consists of four important monuments in Norwegian history; the burial mound, the stone cross, the church site, and the National Monument (Haraldsstøtta). The latter was unveiled in 1872 in commemoration of Harald Fairhair’s gathering of Norway into one kingdom. The legend goes that he was buried here.
The ground and sound at the old royal farm at Avaldsnes still hold secrets that can give us new knowledge about Norwegian and international history. Excavations have led to the discovery of traces of old buildings close to St. Olav’s Church. These findings might even prove to be remains of Harald Fairhair’s court, which he set up here following the battle of Hafrsfjord. Projects are in place to excavate more of the area in order to find out more about these important and exciting findings.
Stødle, in the municipality of Etne, is another important historical area in Haugalandet. During parts of the Middle Ages, Stødle was the main seat of power in Norway. From here king Magnus Erlingsson ruled Norway at the end of the 12th century. His father, earl Erling Skakke, built a chapel at the royal farm. The chapel dates back to 1160 and today it is part of the current Stødle church. At Stødle you will also find remnants of the Bronze Ages. Stødle is situated about one hour by car east of Haugesund.
At the top of Karmøy, six imposing earthen burial mounds, which dominate the landscape, were built during the Bronze Age (1800 – 500 BC). There used to be many more burial mounds here, however, only six remain, and they are called the pyramids of the north. They were built as the final resting place for the powerful chiefs that lived at Avaldsnes. These burial mounds show that 3000 years ago Norway traded with communities as far away as Russia, Ireland and the Mediterranean.
Flagghaugen is a burial mound dating back to the third century AD. It is situated just north of St. Olavs Church. Originally it was 43 meters in diameter and 5 meters high. The remaining parts can be seen just outside of the stone fence surrounding the church. A prince was buried here, and in the grave the richest gold finds from any grave in Scandinavia from the Later Roman Iron Age was found. Among the findings was a massive necklace made of 590 grams of pure gold. The prince is presented at the Nordvegen History Centre close by.
The Icelandic Book of Settlement, Landnáma, says that Flòke Vilgjerdson build a beacon at Ryvarden in 868 before he sailed to Iceland. He was the first man to sail to Iceland with the purpose of settling there, and he is also the one who gave Iceland its name. The story goes that he used three ravens to show him the way, hence the name he is now known by; Ravnafloke (Raven-Floke). The first Viking raid is also said to have originated from Ryvarden. There is a small museum at Ryvarden telling the story of Ravnafloke.
The Viking Centre
The Viking Settlement at Avaldsnes is copy of a Viking settlement, complete with a longhouse and all the requisites, has been reconstructed, just below the Church of Olav in Avaldsnes.
In August Haugesund host the Norway Film Festival and The SildaJazz Festival. Check out http://www.freedomnorway.com for information on things to do in Haugesund.
Haugalandet is one of the best commercial regions in Norway and is well equipped with nice down town areas, charming markets and large shopping centres. In other words: you will find everything you need and more!
There are numerous restaurants on the harbor and we recommend Lothes Mat og Vinhus for the best eating in Haugesund.
Restaurant Naustet specialises in maritime fare served in intimate and cosy surroundings that reflect part of Haugesund's history.