Even if you have to skip the mines, head for the greatest man-made attraction in southern Norway. The Heddal Stave Church lies 33km (20 miles) west of Kongsberg, reached by taking Rte. 134 toward Notodden. This medieval architectural masterpiece is still in use today. Rising 25m (82 ft.) high and 19m (62 ft.) long, Heddal is the largest of the 28 stave churches remaining in Norway.
The oldest part of the church, the chancel, was built of wood in 1147. About a century later, the church was enlarged to its present format. Runic inscriptions reveal that the church was consecrated in 1242 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Inside are a beautiful wooden carved chair from 1200, a baptismal font from 1850, and two of the original pillars from the church. The altarpiece is the work of an unknown artist in 1667, and the wall painting, also by an unknown artist, is from 1668. Dragons and serpents, along with grotesque human heads, decorate the portals.
The church (tel. 35-02-00-93) charges admission of NOK50 ($10/£5) for adults, NOK20 ($4/£2) for children. From June 21 to August 20, it is open 9am to 7pm daily. From May 20 to June 20 and August 21 to September 10, hours are 10am to 5pm daily.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.