84km (52 miles) SW of Oslo; 40km (25 miles) W of Drammen

For more than 2 centuries, Kongsberg was the silver-mining town of Norway. Back in 1623, two children here spotted a big ox butting a cliff with his horns, uncovering a silver vein. Their father hoped to profit from the windfall, but the king heard the news and promptly dispatched his soldiers to force the man to reveal the location of the mother lode.

Suddenly, Kongsberg was overrun. Between the 1623 discovery and 1957, some 1.35 million kilograms (1,488 tons) of pure "wire" silver filled the king's purse. Even today, though the mines are closed, Kongsberg is still home to the Royal Norwegian Mint, which has been operating in the town since 1686.

Today some 4,000 workers are employed in high-tech companies located here, and instead of silver you'll find industries such as aerospace and car-part production.

The falls of the L├ągen River divide the town into two parts. The oldest district, lying west of the river, is the site of the major attractions. The newer part in the east encompasses the visitor information center, the traffic hubs, and the best shops.