The Lysefjord: agriculture, hydroelectric power and tourism

cultural heritage

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.

Lysefjord Map

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.

Oanes & Forsand

Høllesli

Lastabotn

Dørvika

Fantahola

Revså

Eiane/Fossmork

Vatne og Torsnes

Preikestolen

Hengjane

Bratteli

Bakken

Mulen og Jomfru Maria

Songesand

Kallastein og Kallali

Flørli

Håheller

Fylgjesdalen

Kjerag

Lysebotn

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.

Places of cultural and historical significance

Oanes and Forsand

Oanes and Forsand are two historically significant small villages located on opposite sides of the Lysefjord, known for offering a unique combination of culture, history, and amazing nature experiences.

Bergsholmen

Bergsholmen, an island in the middle of the entrance to Lysefjorden, has been inhabited since the 1600s. Today, there are no permanent residents on the island, but the cultural landscape is maintained by grazing sheep. Nearby Lille Bergsholmen serves as a nesting area for seagulls and wading birds. At the seashore in Lastabotn, there is an impressive pothole formed by nature over thousands of years.

Høllesli

Høllesli and Havn on the north side of Lysefjorden have a fascinating history dating back several centuries. The area has always been known for its importance in farming and fishing, and people have been living in the area for many centuries.

Lastabotn

Mining has characterized Lastabotn for about 200 years, but unfortunately, it has never been particularly profitable. Despite this, mining has created life and activity in the fjord, and visible traces of the operations can still be found in the area.

Dørvika

Dørvika is located approximately 6 km northeast of the center of Forsand on the south side of Lysefjorden and is known for having the finest beach in the area. The beach attracts many swimmers and boaters during the summer months.

Fantahola

Fantahola has an exciting history dating back to the time when vagabonds and other travelers sought refuge here to avoid the authorities. Today, Fantahola is a popular attraction for boaters who want to experience spectacular scenery. A new trail from The Bolder to Preikestolen BaseCamp passes by the upper part of Fantagjuvet.

Revså

Revså quay was an important gateway to the hike up to Preikestolen before the road to Revsvatnet was built. The trail from the pier to Revsvatnet and further to Preikestolen BaseCamp is a unique experience for those who seek a challenge and stunning scenery.

Eiane/Fossmork

Eiane is a village with a rich history, where Nedre Eiane was once a quarry that produced granite for famous buildings. The Eidedalen valley between Eiane and Fossmark offers beautiful scenery and important natural habitats.

Vatne og Torsnes

The Vatne and Torsnes farms have played an important role in the tourism development around Preikestolen. Vatne was turned into a tourist resort in the early 1900s, and Torsnes became a tourist station in 1925.

Preikestolen

After the discovery of Preikestolen in 1896, the rock formation eventually became one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations, with a fantastic view of the Lysefjord. While many visitors come to admire the scenic landscape, few are aware of the geological and tourism history behind Preikestolen.

Neverdalen

Once upon a time, there was a small farm in Neverdalen, located between Vatne and Hengjane. This farm was inhabited from the early 1800s until the early 1900s. From Preikestolen, there is a great view down the valley where the farm was located. Unfortunately, the farm burned down in 1929 and is no longer there. The story goes that Fredrik from Neverdalen, along with two brothers from Vatnegarden, helped the first Preikestolen tourist, Thomas Peter Randulff, find his way to the rock formation, which was then called Hyvlatonnå.

Hengjane

Experience history and nature at Hengjane, a former mountain farm with roots dating back to the 1600s. From illegal moonshine to spectacular rock formations, this tourist attraction has something for everyone.

Bratteli

The Bratteli farm, located along the north side of Lysefjorden, is known for its steep mountain sides. With a history dating back to the 1600s, Bratteli is an important cultural landscape with a fantastic view of the fjord.

Bakken

Bakken farm, also known as Songesandsbakken, is a mountain farm located on a plateau 173 meters above Lysefjorden. The farm has a rich history with many interesting personalities, including siblings Johannes and Gjertrud, as well as Ole Olsen Sangesand, better known as Pilt-Ola.

Mulen and Virgin Mary

Mulen on the south side of Lysefjorden is a well-known landmark for boaters, with the masts holding up the power lines across the fjord. Nearby is the rock formation “Virgin Mary with child”.

Songesand

Songesand is a village located midway along the Lysefjord, with its own ferry quay and road over Lyngsheia to Årdal. The name Songesand comes from the river Songa, and there are several small farms in the area.

Kallastein og Kallali

Kallastein and Kallali are two historic farms located on opposite sides of the Lysefjord, carrying an exciting history of settlements along the fjord. Kallastein on the north side and Kallali on the south side constitute valuable cultural landscapes and reminders of lived life and traditions.

Flørli

The roadless village of Flørli in the Lysefjord constitutes a complete power plant community on a small and manageable scale, with several attractions. The power station and the Flørli stairs have become popular tourist attractions. From the fjord, 4444 steps lead up to the top of the mountain.

Håheller

The Håheller farm in Lysefjorden has a history dating back to 1580 and was one of the most prosperous properties in the area. The property had grazing land, forests, and fruit orchards, and also had several crofts associated with it.

Fylgjesdalen

Fylgjesdalen is a remote valley located near Fylgjesdalsvatnet, where the farm became its own entity in 1887 and was abandoned in 1964. The place has a dramatic history, including the emergency landing of a British plane with commandos during World War II.

Kjerag

The Kjerag massif is one of the most impressive natural attractions in Norway, with a granite wall stretching along Lysefjorden with a height of over 1000 meters. The mountain is a popular tourist attraction, known for base jumping, climbing, and the famous Kjeragbolten.

Lysebotn

Lysebotn is an idyllic village located at the innermost part of the Lysefjord, which has undergone significant changes due to power development. Despite this, the village has retained its charm and natural beauty and is today a popular destination for tourists who want to experience beautiful nature and exciting outdoor activities.