Exploring the Kingsroad

Old Lærdalsøyri


Lærdal was always a place where farmers from the east and fishermen from the west met for trade and gatherings.

The fishermen came by sea with fish and salt. The farmers walked across the mountain with hides and meat.

From the Middle Ages, this meeting point was Lærdalsøyri. The village grew around the renowned market, which was held every autumn.

The first written record of Lærdalsmarknaden - the Laerdal market - is from 1596, when fixed opening times were demanded. Danish/Norwegian king Christian Quart agreed, and thus established Lærdalsøyri as a commercial centre that would last into modern times.

In the 1800, Western Norway had three official markets outside of the main trading hub, Bergen. These were Stavanger, Åndalsnes, and Lærdal. People visited from afar. It was common to give servants several days off to go to the market.

This made Lærdalsmarknaden a forum of cultural exchange as well. The market hosted the biggest contest between the country's best fiddlers – and was a national extravaganza.

When Kongevegen across Filefjell was built, the village grew into a small town. This development continued with the later addition, Den Bergenske Hovedvej, as well as the road across Hemsedalsfjellet and scheduled steamboat calls.

Until the mid-1800, the population, trade, industry exploded at Lærdalsøyri. The government decided to award Lærdalsøyri town status in 1841, but this was deferred by parliament.

Old Lærdalsøyri’s wooden buildings are reminiscent of this era. The village is protected, and features some 170 wooden buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. There are few such authentic villages left in Norway.

Today, you will find small shops, cafés, and a post and telecommunication museum in Gamle Lærdalsøyri. Why not purchase some local produce, bakery products, souvenirs, gifts, designer goods and antiques in the old country stores.

Or maybe just sit at a café and enjoy the atmosphere.