Category: Norway, Raros.

A visitor's guide to Raros, Norway

by Nick Ford

Røros Mining Town

Røros is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was once the centre of a vast copper mining industry. The wooden industrial buildings remain like a stage set and evocate an industrial age of former years.

Røros was once called Bergstad which means mountain city. It lies in a little hollow on a gently sloping plateau forested by stunted birch and pine that struggle close to the tree line. At places the trees give out to desolate fell. There are several lakes nearby which offer the opportunity for kayaking and fishing. The source of the river Glomma is close by. As with much of Norway there are opportunities for summer walking, cycling and horse riding and in winter sledging. A particularly rewarding walk to the edge of town reaches the white sands of Kvitsanden. These, the largest dunes in Scandinavia were laid down by retreating glaciers.

As a centre for reindeer herding Røros became one of two internationally renown mining areas in Norway,. the other was a silver mine at Kongsberg.

Copper mining began at Røros under Royal charter in 1644. The early mines were worked by fire. The miners cut down their local forests, burnt the wood then quenched the fire. Steam from the dying fire opened up the mining seams. More wood and charcoal was used in the smelters. The desolate fells are testament to their work.

During conflicts between the Danish/Norwegian Crown and the Swedes Røros was a much fought over strategic prize. The Swedish army reduced the town to ashes in 1678 and 1679. In 1718 in another war the Swedes occupied the town and mined the copper at gunpoint. Later in the year 3,000 men of the Swedish garrison was slow to retreat and froze to death in the mountains near Røros.

The great age of mining at Røros began in 1740. It continued until 1977 when the mining company went out of business. From 1953 when the smelter caught fire smelting was conducted in Sweden. The town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

When visitors arrive at Røros they can see 80 historic wooden buildings. There are more modest mining cottages with turf roofing close to the smelting district by the river Hyttelva. Nearby are the mining offices and the industrial slag heaps. The building on the hill was the town armoury housing weapons to protect it from Swedish attack.

Naturally, there is a museum at Røros which explains the geology and industry of the area. It contains a display of weights and measures that were used in the mine.

One of the highlights of the district is a trip out to the Olavsgruva Mine which is 13 kilometres out of town. Visitors can travel underground and inspect the mine that was in service from the 1650s until the 1970s.

Røros entertains a number of cultural events during the year. Most famous is the Rørosmartnan. In 1853, by Royal decree a winter market was established at Røros. The market which takes place for four days at the end of February continues to this day. Each year the winter market attracts upwards of 60,000 tourists. In March the town hosts a classical music concert. During the summer there are regular outdoor performances of an opera called Det Brimmee on Eld, or the Fiery Call for Peace. Conducted in Swedish, it commemorates the Swedish army disaster near Røros in 1718.

The one drawback to Røros is that it is someway up country and can only be reached through a time consuming journey. Visitors can reach Røros on a direct rail service between Oslo and Trondheim. The journey takes five hours from Oslo and two and a half hours from Trondheim. The town is also served by an overnight bus service between Oslo and Trondheim. The Oslo bus arrives in Røros AT 4.25 AM. The local airport operates a scheduled flight to Oslo. There are three camp sites and at least four hotels in the town.

Røros is a very unusual town which evocate a lost industrial era. It can conveniently be visited while travelling between Oslo and Trondheim.

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Category: Norway, Raros
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