Heddal Stave Church is the largest stave church in all of Norway. Constructed all the way back in the 13th century, it has been through several renovations due to poor maintenance over the years, most notably in the 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The most recent restoration brought back the original historical look that it had upon the completion of its original construction, and it now stands as one of the most historically significant sites in Norway.
Stave churches are popular as a tourist destination. Often there is a museum connected or nearby. Small towns in the area provides restaurants, accommodation possibilities, sightseeing among others.
If you have plans to go see the Heddal Stave Church, you may want to consider staying in the village that holds it, the picturesque community of Heddal. Heddal is a parish community that was officially established only a few centuries ago, but it has a number of comfortable amenities and historical buildings that allow the stave church to blend in almost seamlessly with the rest of the village. Heddal lies right on the Hjartdøla River, which allows for fishing and other water activities.
Heddal Open Air Museum
Just a stone’s throw from the Heddal Stave Church is the Heddal Open Air Museum, which provides a detailed overview of farming in the area dating as far back as the Middle Ages. This is a living museum which has animals that are still raised on the premises. This is an important feature that gets overlooked in many similar museums, because having the live animals makes the whole area feel more authentic and aids learning. This open air museum can be viewed from June through August, so be sure to plan your trip appropriately if you intend to make a trip to this museum.
Originally joined with Heddal, Notodden is now a separate town with its own shops, hotels, and cultural attractions. For those who are interested in sports, the Notodden FK Football Club can be found here. The most highly-rated hotel in this community is the Brattrein Hotel, which provides a luxurious, high-quality stay for all travelers whether they plan to stay in Notodden or explore the Heddal Stave Church and its surrounding sites. With a population of over 12,000, this community also has the shops and accommodations that Heddal itself might lack.
The Heddal Stave Church is the thing that most people want to see when they come into this region, but there is also the natural beauty that marks Norway as such a unique and interesting country. Those wanting to view some of the surrounding region can take a trip along the Telemark Canal, which is notable because it is one of the only places in the world where hand-operated locks are still used. From the stave church, you can take a day or more to enjoy the entirety of the Telemark region.
The Heddal Stave Church is one of the most popular and frequently viewed attractions in all of Norway, but it is also only one major part of a larger region that has a lot to offer to tourists. Whether you appreciate history or just want to admire the craftsmanship and scenery of the region, you should add this as a destination to your Norway itinerary.