Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tjøtta, Alstahaug - medieval church and scenic mountains by the Artic Circle in Norway.

Alstahaug is a municipality in Nordland county, Norway, rich in nature wonders and historical sites.

The coast at Altahaug: a multitude of small islands facing the 'Seven Sisters' mountain range.

The most interesting village is Tjøtta, on a small island at the tip of a narrow peninsula by the norwegian coast, and few kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. So, as you may already know, this is a quite possible area for the ancient Greek sailor Pytheas to have landed and later named "Ultima Thule".

The nearest main towns are Mo i Rana (see here) and Mosjøen.


Coordinates: 65 ° 50' N, 12 ° 25' E
Population:  ~ 250

The old trading center by the quay.

Two historic sites here atract visitors: the old Farm and the stone church.

The main house of Tjøtta Farm is now a guesthouse. Between 1767 and 1929, the farm was family ownership, but after 1930 it became State property.

Tjøtta Låna

A "lån" is a long and narrow dwelling house. Låna is a two-storied building, erected from cogging jointed timber and clad with vertical red painted panelling. It is believed that the house was built around 1800 or maybe earlier.

Tjøtta church

The church was built on the outskirts of Tjøtta farm. The original church was probably built around 1000, when the reigning Viking chieftain Hårek Tjøtta were baptized at the farm in the year 999. The present day church was erected in 1851 in natural stone, designed as a long church with seating for 310.

Neo-gothic elements like the high windows decorate the walls.

Alstahaug, Alsten Island
(see map below)

Alstahaug village is famous for the Petter Dass Museum, installed on the previous vicariate house, and the onion dome church.

Alstahaug yard includes the museum and the church

Coordinates: 65° 57′ N 12° 34′E
         (just 60 km below the Arctic Circle)
Population (municipality) :   ~ 7300

The old parsonage

The Parsonage at Alstahaug dates back to the first half of the 18th century, and has well-preserved interiors from the 18th and 19th centuries. Petter Dass was a parish priest from 1689 and until his death.

The rooms are unchanged from what they were centuries ago.

Alstahaug medieval church

As part of the Petter Dass Museum, the precious Russian-inspired church sits in Alstahaug yard, on the southern tip of the island Alsten.

One of few surviving medieval churches in northern Norway, the stone church was built in the 1100 -1200s, in local quarried soapstone. It is Romanesque with a rectangular nave and narrow square choir.

This region was dominated by Viking chieftains opposed to the christianization of Norway lead by king Olav II; so this is probably one of the first churches ever built in Alstahaug.

The onion dome and the roof.

The church is built in Romanesque style with typical round arches and thick walls. The south portal, which is situated on the choir left side, is considered to be one of the loveliest from the Romanesque period in Norwegian architecture. It has a base with an Attican profile, which rests on an embedded column with spherical-shaped capitals. The arch's abutment stones and the actual arch are decorated with carved “sunken stars” and the columns have the Attic base profile. These stars are not known used after 1200, making dating of the church easier. 

The side porch is tooped with an arch with star decoration, which is typical of 1200 romanesque.

It is uncertain what the weekend church has been devoted to, but there is reason to believe it has been devoted to St. Olav.

The beautiful choir and organ.

When passing through Alstahaug waters, the Hurtigruten coastal express must sail under the elegant bridge over the Leirfjorden, at 66º 02' N.

The 1065 metre long Helgeland Bridge connects Alstahaug to the mainland.

Alsten Island and The Seven Sisters (De syv søstre)

The majestic 'Seven Sisters' in Alsten are a mountain range to take anyone's breath away. The seven peaks are a rock formation on the southeast of the island.

Thrusting their heads above the shoreline, they form a dramatic backdrop to the myriad of islands and the lush landscape.

Skjæringen, at 1,037 metres, is the highest peak. The escalation is even rather easy, access has been improved.

Their beauty may be admired from the cycling path or from the deck of the Hurtigruten express ship.

Hurtigruten offers a memorable experience. The ships arrive at Alstahaug every day, and they go slowly and close enough for the joy of its passengers.