Norway: Forced sale of stave churches?

Norway: Forced sale of stave churches?

Financial problems may lead to the sale of stave churches. Already, summer visitors are likely to face closed doors.

Nore stavkirke er den eneste som allerede i middelalderen ser ut til å ha blitt ombygd til korskirke. Innvendig ble den dekorert på 1600-tallet i sterke farger.
Picture: Fortidsminneforeningen

Fortidsminneforeningen owns eight of Norways’ finest stave churches, but lacks the money to maintain them. The heritage includes the churches of Borgund and Urnes, some of the most visited in the country, and is maintained by visitor revenues and the effort of volunteers. But the association now faces radical measures: closing certain buildings, and, in the long run, selling or disposing of properties.

The association hopes that the government can come in to support the union, as they do other museums. “Had we been a public museum, we would have had about 40 million in funding.”

Last year, some 10.000 visitors admired the three stave churches in Nore Uvdal and Torpo; the church of Borgund had 33.000 visitors. The Director of Tourism and Culture, Hilde Charlotte Solheim, says the heritage of stave churches is absolutely central to tourism. “European research shows that maintenance of cultural heritage is more profitable for society than investing in highways.” On average, only about 10 percent of the amount spent by a visitor benefits the actual monument; the other 90% are distributed among ttransport, dining, lodging and shopping.

Read the full article in Norwegian here.

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