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Exploring the history of the Norwegian Fjords.

Updated on July 2, 2013

The Norwegian Fjords are one of Northern Europe's most scenic natural features and are a vital source of Norway's tourist industry. The Fjord's were formed during the Ice Age when the Ice retreated Northwards, the glacial erosion caused many fractures along the Norwegian coastline which was filled with the water from the newly formed North Sea. The Fjords are geographical features that are also found in Iceland and Greenland, these steep inlets carved through the rock have inspired poets, artists and storytellers for thousands of years.

The Fjords are formed in much the same way that Valley's are created deep inland and both features are panoramic images that people flock to admire. The Fjords are very popular with tourists who like to cruise down the crystal clear Northern waterways and explore the beauty of these often secluded locations.

A Norwegian Fjord
A Norwegian Fjord | Source

The water's of the Fjords attract a wide variety of marine life and encourage associated animals such as Seabirds to flourish along it's steep banks. Because of the frequent occurrence of steep rocky outcrops much of the land is not over developed and nature has been allowed to exist in much the same way it has always done. The Geographical features have also put a halt to heavy industry spoiling the picturesque scenery and more importantly it has stopped the level of pollution that other European nations see in their waterways.

Definition of a Fjord

" A long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley."

Viking Era to Present day

The use of the Fjord's by Scandinavian sailors and adventurers is thought to have given rise to the term " Viking". It is commonly believed they received their name due to their use of the Fjord's shallow bay's which in the Old Norse language were called " Vik's ". The Fjords served as arteries for the major settlements of Norway and travel on the water has been a fixture of Norwegian life for thousands of years.

To travel down the relatively unspoilt waterways you can close your eyes and can almost imagine the Viking shipbuilders fashioning their long ships on the low lying land of the Fjords. Working the natural resources of the land and using craftsmanship handing down from father to son, generation after generation makes you wonder if those times were superior to the present day.

After the end of the Viking period of Norway's history, the people of the Fjord area continued to live off the rich national resources of the area. They continued to hunt the wild game, fish the clear waters and made use of the raw materials to make dwellings and essential items such as furniture and tools.

The German Battleship Bismark in 1939.
The German Battleship Bismark in 1939. | Source

Sink the Bismark

During the Second World War, Norway was occupied and utilized by the Nazi regime of Germany. The German Navy used the Fjord's as a safe harbour away from the Allies Spy plane's, Bomber's and Naval task forces. The many inlets around the Norwegian coast allowed the German Navy to hide their flagship and other German Battleships from detection. From their secure Norwegian hiding places, the likes of the Bismark were designed and expected to disrupt the Allied merchant shipping in the North Sea.

The Bismark was sunk after it's location was spotted by the Norwegian resistance, they informed the Allied Command in Great Britain which started one of the most anxious and eventful games of aquatic cat and mouse in the history of naval warfare. It was not just the Bismark that hid from the Allied forces in the Fjords, much of the German Navy's fleet based in the North Sea spent time in the Norwegian Fjords trying to escape the aerial surveillance of the Allied spy planes.

Bridge near Skeen over the Fjord.
Bridge near Skeen over the Fjord. | Source

River Cruises

The Fjords represent one of Norway's key tourist attractions and over 100,000 people a year are thought to visit the Fjords on holiday. The appeal of floating in luxury along the picturesque landscape is easy to see, and the holiday is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people. The price of the higher end cruises are more expensive than a standard package holiday but are comparable with a cruise of the Caribbean.

The ships that cruise down the Fjords are varied and many were not designed purely for the tourist industry. There are of course the large floating hotels that can be seen around many tourist destinations across the globe, but there are also barges, modern yacht's and vintage sailing vessels. Many of the Ships that carry the holiday makers to the Fjords are historic vessels from Europe's past that have been reconditioned for use in the leisure and tourism industry.

Have you ever visited the Fjord's?

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The Fjord's represent a great untouched expanse of Europe which shows the beauty of the natural world. The scenery has changed little over the passage of time and a visit to the numerous waterways is guaranteed to take you away from the stress and trauma of the modern world many of us exist within.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 4 years ago from England

      Glad it brought back some good memories for you Ericdierker, thanks for stopping by.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What wonderful memories of cruising up that wonderful coast on the way to and back from the land of the midnight sun. Awesome.