Norway is very much a country known for its coast and with good reason. One word – fjords. When I was planning my trip to Norway back in 2014, I realised that every single place I had planned was on the country’s coast. Adamant that I should try to see what the country’s interior was like, I did some research and somehow came across the town of Røros.
Lying close to the border with Sweden and south of Trondheim, Røros is very much a small and rural town. Historically a copper mining town, it was founded in 1644 and became a crucial player in the country’s industry. Mining no longer takes place in Røros, but tourism has definitely taken up the slack.
This is because the town has managed to skilfully preserve its historic wooden buildings and mining town layout. As such, UNESCO has recognised its character and value, including it on their world heritage list.
Visiting in late March, the town was blanketed in soft clean snow, a clear reminder of how far north the town still is. As I walked down into town, I saw mounds of plowed snow rising up in front of house windows, indicating spring hadn’t quite come yet. The end of winter may not have been the best time to visit, as the photos I’ve seen of Røros in summer paint it in a far more cheery, vital way.
A great place to start when visiting town is Kjerkgata, what feels like the main street in town. Along its slight incline you’ll find the very nordic houses you come to expect from Norway, as well as shops, restaurants and the like. At the top of the street you’ll find the town’s church, its tower rising far above the low town rooftops.
Across the small, frozen river you’ll find the old traditional timber houses that Røros is recognised for. This neighbourhood is called Flanderborg and is far quieter than the centre of town. As you walk through its simple streets you can admire the wooden facades and grass roofs of these historic houses. From the look of the timber and their slight angles, you can immediately tell that these houses are very old.
Back opposite the beautiful old houses and across the several rickety wooden bridges on the stream, is the Smelthytta Museum. Housed upon the remains of the old town smelter, here you can learn about the town’s mining history and understand its mining operations. There’s also a section dedicated to period clothes from the 1800’s. The great big wooden building and surrounding fences and bridges contribute greatly to Røros’ frontier atmosphere.
By the traditional houses of Flanderborg, you will find immense hills made up of slag known as Slegghaugan. These manmade mounds were created by the dumping of slag, a byproduct of the mine’s smelting process. The heaps themselves aren’t particularly attractive, but if you climb to the top you’re able to get some unparalleled views out over Røros.
To me what is quite remarkable about Røros is that the former copper mining town is now a nationally certified sustainable destination. Part of the certification includes demonstrating their intent to minimise the adverse impacts of tourism, which must be hard for somewhere so dependent on tourism. Røros really is remarkable in that regard. Local activities that seem to support that notion include dog-sledding, reindeer-sledding and cycling.
One of the quirks of visiting Røros during low season was that I ended up having a large two-storey hostel (Fjellheimen Pension) to myself for my first night. Even on the second night a second person came to stay, but it felt just as deserted then too. The camping area just up the hill did not look too inviting in March either.
- The easiest way to get there it seems is by train, taking 2.5 hours from the nearest city of Trondheim;
- Given how small Røros is, you can understand there aren’t a plethora of accommodation choices, but there are some;
- If you want to see the town at its most picturesque, I do think summer is the way to go.
Head of this little old town before? What about Røros most appeals to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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