In Norway’s grandiose landscapes, roads dance between the fjords and the mountains. A drive with the new
It wends its way up the steep hillside like a thin, windblown ribbon: the famed Trollstigen, the Troll’s Path, Norway’s most popular scenic route and a masterpiece of engineering. Eleven hairpin turns between Isterdalen Valley and the Stigrøra pass, an elevation gain of 405 meters. In some places the road is cut right into the rock; in others, stone retaining walls support the structure. Halfway up to the pass, a stone bridge traverses the Stigfossen waterfall. Each of the bends has a name—most of them are named after the foremen of the construction crews that built the road.
It’s quite the ascent; stopping is all but impossible here, so bend by bend the
This jewel of Scandinavia is surrounded by mountains the size of cities, endless forests, snow-capped summits—and roads that people have managed to carve into that splendid natural environment. The band of asphalt rests in the wilds. Some 280 kilometers northwest of Oslo, the
Norway’s eighteen major scenic routes stretch over 1,850 kilometers between the mountains of the south and the Atlantic coast in the far north. These masterpieces of engineering, which unite the ageless beauty of nature with modern architecture, skirt fjords and meander through mountain ranges. Some of them even push right through the mighty waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline, a jagged succession of fjords that would stretch to six thousand kilometers if pulled straight, presents no impediments for these roads.
Tight bends, broad landscapes
The Møre og Romsdal county is home to a large share of these kilometers-long asphalt drawings. Beyond the tight bends of Trollstigen, further inland, one of the country’s oldest roads climbs the mountain. Gamle Strynefjellsvegen has been there for nearly 130 years. Boundary stones mark the route, reminders of the early explorations of long-ago inhabitants. The region is highly popular among tourists, with the extraordinary juxtaposition of the possibility of swimming at the bottom and year-round snow at the top.
Today, the snow defies the sun yet again, though not without some effort—at 15 degrees Celsius, it’s the warmest day of the year so far. The road wends its way across the plateau from one picturesque mountain lake to another. For long stretches, turning around is all but out of the question; most of the time there’s not even space enough for two cars next to each other. The asphalt squeezes its way into the pristine landscape, in which scattered waterfalls stream through the stone like veins transporting the lifeblood of the land.
Back to nature means back to oneself. The
There’s not an overabundance of light over the 24.5 kilometers in the tunnel between Aurland and Lærdal in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. The
Construction of the century
By Frieder Pfeiffer
Photos by Heiko Simayer
During this year’s International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main,