Roros in East Norway is rich in old mining culture and industry. The place covers around 300 years of fascinating copper mining history, and it is unique in the world due to its abundance of extremely well preserved wooden houses. Today, it is one of the absolutely outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Sites and authentic places to visit in Norway.
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 22 JUL 2020
Approaching Roros from the north, you will be driving along a beautiful sloping landscape in a mouintanous region which will soon give you a feeling og being in the middle of nowhere. For a long time you will only see forest, hairpin roads and signposts which warn against wild animals. You may then actually suddenly spot a moose or a couple of reindeer.
Eventually, you arrive at Roros, the somewhat isolated town in East Norway – far from the most common tourist streichers of road along the West Coast. Although much les known than Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim, it does, though, have a lot to offer, especially if you are interested in old Norwegian culture and mining history.
Already in 1644 a copper ore was detected in the Roros mountains in East Norway. Just two years later the Danish-Norwegian King Christian IV gave permission to utilise the natural copper resources in the area, and the Roros Copper Works saw the light of day.
The privileges included copper mining within a Circumference of four old Norwegian miles, corresponding to a radius of 45 kilometres from the initial mine, Old Storwartz.
Roros mining town was now established by the waterfall of the Hitterelva River, location of the first furnace.
The surrounding land was not originally a fertile agricultural area, but a mountainous region covered with forest. The mining workers and inhabitants of Roros therefore also had to do farming as a second occupation to provided themselves with agricultural products, and having live stock became usual in the small mining town.
Roros Church was constructed in 1780-1784 as the town´s pride (known as the Ziir), today the fifth church by size in Norway. It was fundet by the Roros Copper Works and designed by the Norwegian architect Peter Leonard Neumann from Trondheim. The church has a light blue interior and decor. Inside the Church, you will notice the links to the Roros Copper industry. You wil notice both the logo of the Copper Works, paintings of the first manager, as well as of the manager in charge when the church was built.
Roros Church features both seats for the Royal family and for the Copper Work management. The church goers were in general seated according to rank. The most prominent people in the first row and the poor people in the upper galleries – accessed only by the exterior stairs. The church is still in use, for instance it is a popular site for concerts.
At the time of inauguration, the church counted 1,600 seats! It now ranks as the fifth largest church in Norway!
The Røros Copper Works produced large amounts of copper. Between 1644 and 1977 it is estimated that around 100,000 tons of copper was produced here. The Røros Copper Works were therefore among Norway’s most important mining activities.
It is really unique that so much is still preserved in town and that it has preserved so much of its authentic character. You can visit both the St Olav Copper Mine, a mining museum and climb the enormous waste heaps at the end of Slaggeveien. It has, not surprisingly, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of its historic houses, church and Copper Work buildings, smelters, charcoal pits, old cableways, as well as farming structures.
In 1678 and 1679 the town was set on fire by the Swedes, but since then many houses have been preserved in their original style. This means that today a considerable number of houses from 1700s and 1800s still stand.
The forest around Roros was removed little by little at the time, since it was gradually utilised as fuel for the ovens. Anyway, you will today find forests near Roros which are now home to reindeer, moose and other animals.
The Roros area is also a great area for hiking.
Roros is one of Norway’s and the world’s coldest places with a temperature record as low as -50.4 degrees Celcius.