This rare photo can only be taken twice a year. One Norwegian Parliament member snapped it by coincidence.
Norwegian member of Parliament Margunn Ebbesen was visiting her home town of Brønnøysund in Nordland when she decided to go for a mountain hike last weekend. As the sun was coming down, she happened to glance over at Torghatten mountain.
There, she found that the sun had filled the characteristic hole that runs right through the rock. The rare picture this resulted in is like watching a huge dark troll's eye with a glowing pupil right in the centre, a mute observer overlooking the ocean.
"Suddenly, I found myself in the right place at the right time," she tells Norwegian newspaper VG.
As it turns out, the sun only reaches this position twice in a year, and the exact timing is never certain (the next time is sometime late in the summer).
According to Norwegian broadcaster NRK, the granite mountain of Torghatten came into being 600 million years ago as the continents of North America and Europe clashed together. Notably, according to legend the mountain is actually the hat of the troll king Skarsfjellgubben.
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He threw his hat in order to stop an arrow from the troll Hestmannen, the rebellious son of Vågakallen, resulting in the characteristic hole that has turned this into one of Norway's most iconic mountains.
In reality, the hole was formed during the ice age, as ice and water tore through the looser rocks, while the hardened rocks further up managed to resist the long, slow assault.
Even though the mountain and the sun only align twice a year, Torghatten is a popular and easily accessible destination throughout the year. The mountain is part of the Norwegian coastal route known as Kystriksveien (you can download an updated travel guide here), named by National Geographic as one of their "101 World’s most Scenic Routes".
From Brønnøysund, reaching Torghatten is easy by car or bicycle. On arrival, ascending the mountain and reaching the hole only takes about 20 minutes. For those who wish to spend some quality time at Torghatten (summer is an excellent time for those wanting to see the midnight sun), there is a restaurant as well as cabins and camping spots available for rent at the foot of the mountain.
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Ebbesen tells VG she hopes her photo will encourage more people to visit the mountain that she herself is so fond of.
"Torghatten is a landmark. When you're arriving by car from the south, leaving E6 and continuing out towards the sea, you can see Torghatten way out there in the distance. Every time I see that mountain, I feel like I've come home."
Kystriksveien is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Along the road you can climb the mountains Torghatten and De syv søstre, visit the Vega Islands and Svartisen, or get fascinated by Saltstraumen.