Kvinnherad has approximately 13.500 inhabitants and covers a area of 1.127,9 km2. Kvinnherad muncipality is situated in Sunhordaland where the Hardangerfjord meets the sea. The muncipality borders to Hardanger and is divided by the fjord with Ølve and Hatlestrand in the northwest and the Folgefonna in the northeast. With it´s approximately 2.500 inhabitants Husnes is the largest community as well as the trade and the educational centre, where as Rosendal with it´s approximately 1.000 inhabitants is the civic centre. Soutwards in the municipality you will find the landscape typical for Sunnhordaland, with exuberant pineclad islands, small islets and idyllic sounds. Further inland the nature changes, and you will find U-valleys formed by the glacier ice, narrow fjords, waterfalls and steep glacier-covered mountains.
The limestone in Varaldsøy, Ølve and Hatlestrand forms the basis for an exceptional floral abundancy. Gjuvslandslia at Varalsøy is extremely rich in species, thus forming an outstanding botanical nature reserve. The biggest yew in Northern Europe is also to be found on this island. At Kvinnherad you will find many deciduous forest reserves and bird reservations. The municipality has a rich fauna with one of the largest deer population in Norway.
Today, Kvinnherad´s shipbuilding traditions, developed throughout the centuries, form the basis of an important industry, in addition to farming and aluminium industry. Kvinnherad has long traditions in ship building, and many famous ships have been built in Rosendal.
Surrounded by impressive mountains and beautiful scenery, Rosendal is the administration centre of Kvinnherad as well as a busy industry and shopping centre, including art galleries. The polar vessel GJØA, belonging to the explorer Roald Amundsen, was built here. Boatbuilding is still an important industry.
The Barony Rosendal is the most well-known attraction in the area. The barony is often referred to as “The smallest castle in Scandinavia”. The history of the Barony dates back to the 1650s, when the nobleman Ludwig Rosenkrantz came to Bergen as comissioner of war for the Danish king. At a ball at the fortress of Bergenhus he met Karen Mowatt, sole heiress to the biggest fortune of the country at the time. Her father was a great landowner, and had more than 550 farms all over the western part of Norway. They married in 1658, and were given the Hatteberg farm in Rosendal as a wedding present.
In 1661 Ludwig Rosenkrantz started building his own castle in Rosendal. He completed this in 1665, and the castle was in private ownership until 1927, when the last owner donated it to the University of Oslo, the castle is now a museum. A guided tour of the castle takes you through the different periods of time from 1665 up to 1930. The oldest restored rooms are still like they were decorated in the early 1800s.
In 1678 the castle was elevated to the status of barony – the only one of its kind in Norway. Round 1850 a beatiful renaissance garden was laid out around the castle. The garden is often referred to as the most magnificent “Victorian garden” in Norway. Among other things aroud 2000 roses in blossom can be experienced here (June – November).
The families in the Barony Rosendal were important people of cultural Norway. Authors Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, Alexander Kielland and painters Hans Gude and Anders Askvoll visited the castle often. Musicians like Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull were guests here. Often there were concerts in the Barony Rosendal – a tradition which is still kept alive.
One of the biggest stone churches from the Middle Ages in Western Norway. The church was completed round 1250 a.d. in a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. For centuries the church was subject to the Barony Rosendal. The baron was among other things entitled to appointing vicars and chaplains.the first families at the Barony Rosendal lie embalmed in a separate sepulchre connected to the church. Kvinnherad church was delivered back to the congregation in 1910.
THE SKAALUREN COLLECTION
We have long traditions in shipbuilding in Kvinnherad. Round the year 1900 there were no less than 325 places registered in our municipality where boats were built. Among the many boats that are built here, we find the GJØA. This vessel was built in Rosendal in connection with Roald Amundsen´s plans to sail through the “North-Western Passage” (1903 – 06).
Skaaluren Skipsbyggeri in Rosendal is the yard in Norway that has the longest tradition within shipbuilding. The yard started its history in 1855. It kept and maintained tools and models used during the boat-building. These are now displayed at the Skaaluren collection, which is to be found on the quay in Rosendal.
THE FOLGEFONN TUNNEL
You no longer have to wait in a ferry queue to get to Kvinnherad, with among other attractions the Barony Rosendal! Go directly through the Folgefonn Tunnel. The shortest distance between Bergen and the Oslo/Grenland area is now via the Folgefonn Tunnel. Road tolls.
HATLESTRAND and ØLVE
Hatlestrand and Ølve are beautifully located on the west side of the Hardanger fjord with a wonderful view towards Folgefonna Glacier and the Kvinnherad mountain range. Sheltered bays with islets and rocks, and idyllic forest lakes offer fine conditions for bathing and fishing. The district enjoys rich animal and bird life and herds of deer are often to be seen. Rock carvings, steatite mines and grave mounds bear witness to several thousand year old settlements. Griddles from the steatite mines at Ølve were exported on a large scale during the Middle Ages. From 1600 AD mining for copper pyrite and gold commenced. The district has rich traditions within farming, forestry, shipbuilding and fishing. Today less than 1000 persons find their livelihood at Hatlestrand and Ølve. The company Umoe Schat Harding – the world´s leading manufacturer of lifeboats and safety equipment for ships and offshore installations – is today the largest employer.
Attractions in Hatlestrand
Kirkhustunet District Museum consists of 7 different buildings from the period 1700-1800 AD. Kirkhustunet is beautifully set at Hatlestrand. The place has a beautiful view of the Hardanger Fjord, the Folgefonna glacier and the mountains round Rosendal. Bårdastova is the oldest building in the museum. It dates back to the 17th century. The Kirkhusstova consists of two living-rooms: a drawing-room and a sitting-room. The latter has now been furnished as a catering room. During the opening hours coffe, ice-cream, soda and pancakes are served. Kirkhustunet also receives groups for banquets. This can be ordered in advance.
Attractions in Ølve
The rock carvings at Hamarhaug are probably 3000 years old. The field is one of the largest in Northern Europe. Ølve Church
With Altar piece from 1644 AD, a replica of Rubens’ Altar piece at the Dome Church of Antwerp.
The name Varaldsøy is believed to originate from the ancient German male name Waraldr. Waraldr was probably a chief who migrated with his band of warriors and settled on the island about the year 600 AD. A fine summer day on the island when flowers and plants are in full bloom, Varaldsøy is a real spectacle. The island is “new” as a tourist destination, but many visitors will here find the quietness they long for. Within the limited area of Varaldsøy, the geologic variations are unusually great. The rock is rich in limestone, which accounts for the abundance of flowers, plants and trees of many kinds, many of which are but seldom seen so far north. The largest yew of Northern Europe is to be found on the island. Farming and fishfarming are the largest industries of Varaldsøy.
Attractions in Varaldsøy
Yew the largest yew of Northern Europe
Varaldsøy Church was built in 1855, the largest Church of the community of Kvinnherad. The Cairn According to the author Hans E. Kinck, the cairn, located at the very highest point of the island, provides the finest view of the Hardanger fjord and Folgefonna Glacier. Visit the Mines and experience a feeling of bygone times.
Mauranger and Ænes form the northemost district of Kvinnherad. Population is approximately 350 and the distance from Ænes to the farms of Gjetingsdalen is 30 km. Mauranger was connected to the municipal road net in 1970 as a consequence of a hydro electric power plant construction. The beautiful district – between “Fjord and Folgefonna” – is made up of steep mountain sides and green, fertile valleys and is the natural gateway to exquisite outdoors adventures on Folgefonna Glacier, in the mighty mountain range and in the valleys.
The Ænes and Bondhus river are among the best salmon and trout rivers in Kvinnherad. Mauranger has long traditions as a tourist destination. In Mauranger, Lerøy Fjord Trout spend their first year in fresh, icy water from the 10 000 year old Folgefonna glacier. The German Emporer Wilhelm considered Mauranger his “secret treasure” and the popular hiking trail to the cabins Breidablikk and Fonnabu on the Glacier is named after him.
Sundal is the largest village in the Mauranger district. The village is located on the southern shore of the Maurangsfjorden, south of Nordrepollen and Gjetingsdalen. The village of Austrepollen lies to the east of Sundal. It sits in a deep valley, with steep mountains surrounding it on three sides. The Bondhusbreen glacier is located at the southern end of the valley. The village has been a centre of tourism for over 150 years. There are about 80 inhabitants in the village, which has a camping ground, a shop. At the end of the 19th century, German and English tourists travelled to Sundal to experience the great nature including the nearby Folgefonna glacier, and the small Bondhusbreen arm which reaches into the valley towards Sundal. Today, the nearby Folgefonna National Park is a major draw to the area which is popular among outdoor enthusiasts.
Attractions in Mauranger and Ænes
Bondhusbreen is a branch of the Folgefonna Glacier. From Sundal you may drive 1 km up the Bondhus valley. From the parking lot a fine forest road leads up to the Bondhus lake (189 metres). The road is well adapted for use of prams/ wheel chairs. From the lakeside there is a good view of the glacier. A path around the lake leads to the glacier. Remember to respect the powers of nature – never approach the lower part of the glacier! Consult the local people for advice. Ænes Salmon Park A family park where you are almost guaranteed to catch a salmon. Fishing tackle available. Here you may watch goats, boar, birds and other animals. Ænes Church. A medieval stone church, probably built around 1190 AD is beautifully situated, surrounded by splendid nature. Furubergsfossen, the biggest and most beautiful waterfall in the area, with water from the glacier Folgefonna. On the cliff Geithidlaren, 250 metres from the farm Årsand, you may see cliff paintings which are rarely found in the Nordic countries. The colours have been preserved to this day. Gjerdetunet farm museum, in Austrepollen consists a house containing a stove with no chimney, a “loft” and store hourse. Several generations of well known bear hunters used to live on this farm around 1770 AD.
The Furebergfossen waterfall is located on the Maurangerefjord road enroute Rosendal, and this waterfall, which is an obligatory stop for tourists, is much easier to reach nowadays by the new road from Jondal.
Omvikdalen is the largest rural district of Kvinnherad. In fact, it is the second largest farming district in the entire Hordaland, next to Bergen only. The main office of Umoe Schat Harding – the World´s leading manufacturer of free-fall life boats and safety equipment for vessels and offshore installations – is located at Seimsfoss.
The Tvedt cottage, located at Dimmelsvik is the home of the author Jens Tvedt. Bakkastova, the cottage, which has a stove with no chimney, belonged to the family Skilbeck. Nistovetunet, museum farm in Dimmelsvik a typical Sunnhordland farm buildings; dwelling with no chimney adjoining room with glass panes. Store house, and brewing house.
MATRE, BAUGSTRANDA, ÅKRA
The geography of Kvinnherad is highly varied. Idyllic archipelago in the south and deep fjords and majestic mountains with eternal ice and snow in the north. In the south-eastern part of the municipality, we find the rural districts of Matre, Baugstranda and Åkra where about 500 people find their livelihood. The Åkrafjord is a very special and fascinating fjord with depths of 700 metres. The fishing of salmon, sea trout and cod is good. Cabins for rent are available.
Uskedalen village is located in the middle of Kvinnherad, 8 miles from Rosendal. The mountain Ulvanosa (1247 metres) and the green valley frame in this district beautifully with 20 different climbing routes, offers a challenge to many mountaineers. Seaside, a fine marina offers most of the facilities required by boat tourists, including a popular restaurant. The camping site is idyllically located next to the outlet of Uskedalelva, a fine sea trout river. Uskedal is a good starting point for mountain hiking.
Bygdetunet Rød consists of dwelling, store house, stable, smithy and mill house, dating back to 1700 AD. Together with Dønshaugsamlinga this Farm Museum contains more than 450 items. Daily guided tours during summer season, otherwise by advance booking. Revolving cannon from the second World War is on display at the marina. The Farm Museum also has a cooper’s workshop at the fjord.
Herøysundet is a district with a Mail Service history dating back to 1700 AD. In our time, a site for canning factory, which is now closed down. Formerly a junction for fjord steamer traffic, today having sched-uled calls of speedy Catamarans to and from Os near Bergen. Fine harbour and bathing beach.
The most densely populated area of Kvinnherad, situated at the entrance of the Hardanger fjord. Husnes is the shopping and service centre of the municipality. This local society was founded on the industrial establishment of Sør Norge Aluminium in 1960. A special, manifold culture has developed in this industrial area and but few districts has nurtured so many rock an roll bands and artists. The great Norwegian author Jonas Lie lived here during his early years and, as the story, goes he successfully proposed to his Tomasine on Rundholm in the Opsanger lake. Husnes has an active sports milieu, having two athletic fields, one athletic hall, swimming hall and a rowing course on the Opsanger lake. Kvinnherad Upper Secondary School, with nearly 500 students attending various branches of secondary education, is located in the direct vicinity of these sports venues. A 10-15 minutes walk from Husnes centre leads to Søral Park with Marina and soccer, tennis and beach volley-ball courts.
Jonas Lie, memorial nearby the House of Culture Onarheim farm Military Commander’s residence from 1790 AD. “Practical housewife training school” – 1800 AD. The childhood home of the author Jonas Lie.
Sunde formerly a trading centre and the site of a Canning Factory. There is an old maritime environment with a boat-building industry that is still alive here. The many boathouses and warehouses attest to solid fishing and maritime traditions. The fine harbour is a natural calling point for boat tourists. Regular car ferry service to Halsnøy and Stord and speedy Catamaran service to Bergen, Haugesund and Stavanger.
Valen is beautifully situated by Høylandssundet. Valen hospital is among the largest psychiatric hospitals in Western Norway and is in possession of one of the oldest hydroelectric power plants in Norway. Valen is a fine starting point for mountain hiking. Sunnhordaland Ritell offers riding horses for rent and the opportunity to get acquainted with other animals, such as boar, chicken, donkeys and rabbits. Handelandsdalen is situated between Valen and Sandvoll. It is a beautiful valley that is much used for family outdoor activities. Idyllic forest road next to an easy running river, well adapted for pram and wheelchair.
HALSNØY and FJELBERG
These islands are located right in the middle of this illustrious fjord landscape. Locally, Halsnøy is called “The Pearl” of Sunnhordland. Altogether 2.500 people live on the islands, which have many traces of human activities 5-6000 years ago. Best known is the Halsnøy Monastery. The many grave mounds and findings tell a silent story of the people that inhabited these beautiful islands in ancient times. Sæbøvik was at one time a political and religious power centre. Here the vikings dragged their vessels the shortest route over land called “Drageid”, today the shopping centre for the island people, but remains from bygone times are still to be seen at the grave field at Larsstø. The islands are fertile and forest clad. Holly and ivy grow wild. You will find cosy inlets with fine rock-faced or sandy bathing beaches.
The fjords are rich in many kinds of fish, a real eldorado for sports fishermen. There are also some special areas well adapted for sports divers. Idyllic Løkjelsøy and Kolsøy are very popular with boat tourists. Here they may find a peaceful and sheltered inlet all to themselves. Fjelberg and Borgundøy are located in the southern part of this island districts. The idyllic atmosphere to be found here is exceptional. From the mountain Borgundnuten (462 metres) there is a panorama view all over Sunnhordland. Ferry connections to Sunde, Stord and Utbjoa.
Halsnøy monastery is on the island Halsnøy in the southern part of Kvinnherad. The monastery was finished in 1164 – built by the viking chief Erling Skakke (Erling the Wry). His son, Magnus Erlingson, was the king of Norway at the time. In the late middle ages this monastery was regarded as one of the mightiest monasteries in this part of the country. Gjest Baardsen was held prisoner here in 1814. Guided tours daily except. Fjelberg is one of the most distinctive rectories in the country, consisting of 10 buildings, the oldest one probably from the year 1650 AD. Today a refuge for novelists and artists seeking inspiration. The place is also open for guidings. More than 5000 persons visit The Magnaren Garden, this very special garden in 1997. The garden features art items, stones, plants and an imaginative person. Aquarium and quay. Klokkesteinen is located at Landamarka. Big stone. Knock on it and listen to the fine sound! One of the largest tea importers of Western Norway is located at Høylandsbygd. Enjoy the scent and the exciting atmosphere among several hundred different brands of tea. Enameled signs, sweets and piece of ornament also on sale. Grave mounds and stone monuments from the Viking Age located at Larsstø. At Tofte you may see the new phenomenon within Norwegian agriculture, ostriches 2 meters tall! Riding horses for hire.
Fjellhaugen Skiing Centre is a popular destination for many skiers during the winter and spring months. Skilifts, prepared tracks and heated public lounge. The Centre is located 600 metres above sea level. Good parking facilities. In this scenic mountain area there are many marked paths that can offer hikers great outdoors adventures. Matre has car ferry connections with Utåker and Skånevik.
If you are in Kvinnherad, Folgefonna – the third biggest glacier in the country – must be included in your programme. The best view of the Folgefonna is from Sundal. Here we would recommend travellers to walk up the idyllic valley Bondhusdalen. There is a particularly nice and easy path leading up the valley to the Bondhus lake (189 m above sea level). Those who wish to go a bit further, can the walk around the lake into the morain below the Bondhus glacier, – the world’s steepest tongue of a glacier!
It is not advisable for tourists to climb in the Bondhus glacier without the company of someone with knowledge of local conditions. Although the Folgefonna is considered to be the safest glacier in the country, it takes good knowledge about glaciers to indulge in this kind of activity.
If you wish to enter the glacier, we will recommend you to climb the Emperor’s Trail. This was built towards the end of the 1800’s with support from the “Deutshe Nordlandsverein”, among others At the edge of the glacier you can find the tourist cabins “Breidablikk” and “Fonnabu”. Overnight accomodation is possible here. If you want to be accompanied by a guide, the tourist information can help you get in contact with a glacier guide.
Sheep, goats and cows pasturing in the wild are things that belong to Norwegian culture, and contribute to the experience of holidaymaking in Norway. Kvinnherad has many farms, and therefore also animals pasturing in the summer season. The animals are attracted to roads and people., which makes it easy to get in contact with the animals. Unfortunately it also means that you may hurt the animals without meaning to. So we must beg those who wander here – have some consideration for the animals! Norwegian animals are among the healthiest in the world. We want this to continue. Therefore it is important that their menu contains nothing but natural food which they find in nature. Remains of food may contain germs and other contaminants that are harmless to us, but may prove disastrous for the animals. Remember to close the gates when you are out in open air!
The scenery of Kvinnherad is rich when it comes to alternative routes for mountain hiking! In the mountains as well as in the areas around the Folgefonna glacier there are routes of varying difficulty. Everything from easy walks of a few hours to hikes that will last for several days. At the tourist information you can get maps as well as information about the alternatives.
Kvinnherad has the biggest deer population of all Norwegian Municipalities. some 7 – 8000 deer are reckoned to be in the area. The latest years it has become possible for “outsiders” to take part in the hunt for these animals. Many places it is possible to buy a licence for hunting. In order to be allowed to hunt, you must pass a hunting test to make sure you shoot well enough to avoid just injuring the animals, – and you must have paid hunting tax.
If you want to try your luck with the fishing-rod, Kvinnherad is a good place to stay. Here is ample opportunity for angling in lakes, rivers, the fjord and the ocean. Ænes Salmon Park, Ænes offers fishing in big ponds. Here we can almost guarantee you that you will catch salmon. Fjord fishing in Kvinnherad is good – at any time of the year. In order to fish in the fjord the only fee you have to pay is the state fish tax. this can be done at the nearest post office. If you want to try your luck in rivers and lakes, you must be prepared to pay an extra fishing licence for the respective area.
Several places in Kvinnherad offer boats for hire. Most accomodations have boats that the guests may use (some places this is included in the rent – in other places there is an extra fee to be paid for this).
Kvinnherad Golfclub is a golf course with 9 holes and a variation of difficulties. The course lies close to the mouth of the Hardanger fjord, the second longest fjord of Norway (179 km – 112 miles). The Hardanger fjord is often called the “Queen of the Norwegian fjords” and in walkingdistance from Husnes center. The distance from Bergen to Kvinnherad is 88 km (55 miles).