Source: Norwegian Public Roads
National Tourist Routes as an attraction is a development project carried out by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration commissioned by the Storting and the Government. It includes 18 selected routes from Varanger in the north to Jæren in the south. The uniqueness of these attractions lies in the spectacular architecture found at viewpoints, places of interest and visitors’ centres located amid magnificent scenery.
The aim of the National Tourist Routes is to strengthen Norway’s position in the marketing of international tourism and to help promote local business activities as well as nurturing the vitality of rural districts.
Developer: Norwegian Public Roads
Administration, National Tourist Routes
Architect: Reiulf Ramstad Architects AS
Contractor: Christie & Opsahl AS
Trollstigen is legendary and attracts a large number of visitors during the few hectic months of summer. To build an attraction that is inspiring and that will endure over time, it is vital to retain the special atmosphere of this unique natural landscape and to make allowances for the rugged climate. Concrete and steel are the basic materials in the installation. The concrete emerges as a living and beautiful material through the use of different kinds of finishes: from the roughness of lava to satin-smooth surfaces.
The main building consists of two building shells that enfold each other. The building houses both a café and an information centre, but at the same time it is also provides spectacular views of the landscape and the flowing water. The different directions of the landscape and the mountain tops in the near vicinity have all contributed to the complex geometry of the building.The other building is formed like a rampart and acts as a flood barrier for the River Istra when it reaches its highest level. The building houses the service facilities, a kiosk and a souvenir shop.
The walkways and steps out to the outlook points have an even, flowing rhythm and invite the traveller to stroll around and experience the mighty landscape. The largest viewing platform is dramatically located, jutting out over a ridge with a perpendicular drop of approximately 200 metres. This has different outlook points for those who dare not go out to the furthest point, while those who are bolder can go all the way to the tip of the platform where the railings end in a glass panel.
Water has been the key element in the architectural design. A series of stepped pools with angular thresholds that widen the water’s surface help regulate the flow of the stream. Much of the uniqueness of Nordic culture, and Norwegian culture in particular, is based on our relationship to water. At Trollstigen, water can be experienced as snow on the mountains, as a glistening mirror, as a swirling but controlled cascade or as a dramatic waterfall.
IN 1905 a licence was granted for the building of a horse trail over Stigfjellet, the so-called Kløvstien track. But even then there were already thoughts of building a road between Valldal and Rauma. Although many people believed it was utter madness to build a road over Stigfjellet, in 1916 the Norwegian Parliament – the Storting – gave the go-ahead andt he construction of the road commenced a couple of yearslater.
The building of the mountain pass began in 1928 and was a huge challenge. The area was steep and prone to landslides, and often there was flooding and bad weather. Because of the long winter, the road construction period only lasted from the middle of May to September/October every year. The work went smoothly with few accidents, and the navvies showed their artistic skills as stonemasons in their work on the road and bridges. The new road, which was given the name Trollstigen, was opened on 31 July 1936 by King Haakon.
At the end of the 19th century tourism in the area began to increase. As a deliberate marketing initiative, the mountains around Trollstigen were given new names such as Kongen (the King), Dronningen (the Queen), Bispen (the Bishop) and Trollveggen (the Troll Wall). The Knivsflåfossen waterfall in Geiranger was renamed De syv søstre (the Seven Sisters), and the road over Stigfjellet became Trollstigen (the Troll’s Ladder).
In 1936, the same year as Trollstigen opened, Trollstigheimen was completed at Alnesreset, the highest point at 852 metres above sea-level. The restaurant could cater for 180 visitors. However, in 1963 the building was damaged in an avalanche and was not rebuilt. In 1979 a new restaurant was established at Stigrøra. In order to maintain the importance of the site as one of the prime tourist attractions in Norway, all the old buildings have been demolished, and the entire area has now emerged with a new and modern appearance.