The Lysefjord: agriculture, hydroelectric power and tourism
The Lysefjord is a unique and majestic fjord that stands out from other fjords due to its wild beauty. Lysefjorden is recognized as a cultural-historical landscape of national interest (KULA). The fjord stretches 40 kilometers eastward between high and steep mountains, and the name Lyse likely comes from the light and sparkling qualities of the granite. The fjord has a long history of settlement, agriculture, fishing, power production, and tourism.
The map and listing below provide you with the opportunity to explore everything from mountain and fjord farms to old power stations and tourist cabins. By clicking on the icons on the map or on the different items in the listing, you will be able to read more about each location and learn how it has contributed to shaping the fjord over the years.
The Lysefjord: A Geological Marvel and a Historical Treasure
Lysefjorden is one of the most unique fjords, stretching 40 kilometers eastward between high and steep mountains. The mountains along Lysefjorden reach up to 1000 meters in height and have deep valleys. The name Lyse is likely related to the light and the sparkling qualities of the granite. In ancient times, Lysefjorden was an important transportation route and was part of the travel route from Stavanger eastward to the villages in Setesdal and Sirdal.
The most fertile villages and farms are located in Forsand and the outer areas, while the conditions are more barren further into the fjord. On the north side, facing south, heat-loving trees like oak grow on the mountain slopes. The sunny side also provides better conditions for agriculture and survival, while the shady south side receives less warmth.
The origin of the Lysefjord
The fjord was originally formed as a river valley, where streams and rivers eroded through an old plain landscape. During several ice ages, the valley was excavated and further shaped by the glaciers. Some of the large channels that were excavated were later filled with meltwater and seawater. Lysefjorden is one of these channels. The fjord is a so-called threshold fjord and is not deeper than 11 meters at the fjord mouth where it meets Høgsfjorden. Here, the terminal moraines consisting of sand and gravel that the ice pushed forward lie. The current systems at the mouth make the area more nutrient-rich than deeper parts of the fjord. Lysefjorden has a unique ecosystem with thriving marine life.
Lysefjorden is over 450 meters deep further into the fjord. The Lysebreen glacier also sent glacier arms into several side valleys, which left so-called side-moraine ridges, including Haukali, Botne, and Vatne. Lysefjorden is one of the most classic fjords in Norway with steep, straight, and parallel sides, a trough-shaped bottom, and a U-shaped cross-profile. Professor Esmark conceived the Scandinavian ice age theory in 1823 in the areas around Lysefjorden with its marked end and side moraines.
Settlements along the Lysefjord
Archaeological finds show that people have lived along the fjord back to the Stone Age. Before the Black Death, people lived off hunting and fishing, and later on agriculture and animal husbandry. Sprat fishing has long been important for the fjord. In recent times, power development in the Lysefjord area has become important for settlement and tourism in the fjord, especially for the communities in Lysebotn and Flørli. The municipality receives significant extra income from hydropower plants.
The sea route along Lysefjorden was the main means of transportation in the past when people used boats with oars or sails. Both those who lived along the fjord and people from Setesdal and Sirdal used the fjord as their main route when they had business at the church, merchants, and others. There was poor regular service on Lysefjorden until the post-war years when the power development provided a basis for better connections.
The Lysefjord as a tourist destination
Tourism also has a long tradition in the area, and experiencing Lysefjorden and the surrounding areas is a varied encounter with magnificent nature and testimonies of previous generations’ toil and struggle to make a living. Lysefjorden is one of Norway’s most visited tourist destinations, with the rock formations Preikestolen and Kjerag as the most popular attractions.
The Lysefjord is a geological gem and historical treasure that has attracted humans for millennia. With its dramatic landscape and unique ecosystem, the fjord continues to fascinate visitors from all over the world. All in all, the Lysefjord is a majestic experience of Fjord Norway’s nature.