Source of inspiration for great artists
“Had I known it was so beautiful here, I would have come before”. This was the comment of author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson after his visit here. Hardanger and Ullensvang has inspired very many well know writers, painters and composer throughout the years. Edvard Grieg is Hotel Ullensvang’s most famous regular guest and he has composed several of his best-known works at Lofthus. Visit Ullensvang church, know from the famous Romanticist painting “Brudeferden i Hardanger” (“Bridal Voyage in Hardanger”) by Adolph Tidemand og Hans Gude. The church was built in 1250.
Fruit orchard of Norway
Lofthus has often been called “the fruit orchard of Hardanger” and the Hardanger Frukttrail makes you experience a local historic hike through the heart of Norwegian fruit production, consisting of apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries.
The very first fruit trees in Hardanger were planted at Lofthus between 1200 and 1210, by Cistercian monks from the small monastic community which once existed where Opedal farm is situated today. It was these same monks who created the famous “Munketrappene” (“Monks’ Steps”) in the mountain side above Lofthus to simplify access to the Hardangervidda plateau. By climbing the steps and continuing onto the Hardangervidda, you come to the top of the Skrikjo waterfall which, if it had not been divided in the middle by a projecting rock, would have been the world’s highest freefall waterfall.
Niels Hertzberg - Norway's first "tourism chief"
In the early 1800s, Hertzberg was the only person in the district who could speak English and French. When foreign visitors came to the area, it was the local pastor who came to their assistance. He was a passionate advocate for his parish. Hertzberg took a positive view of the influx, believing that if only a little information about the place could be sent out into the wider world, even more visitors would find their way up the Sørfjord to Lofthus. He was convinced that the resulting development would be good not only for Lofthus, but for the entire Hardanger region. Thought swiftly turned to action, with Hertzberg the pastor the first person to plan and distribute a pamphlet devoted to Lofthus and Ullensvang. The pamphlet was first used in Norway and then distributed in other countries through Norwegian foreign service missions and consulates. Because of this pioneering work, Hertzberg has been called Norway’s first “tourism chief”.