The second and most controversial phase of a new construction project at Norway’s spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall is now open—but not everyone is happy with it.
Built in seven separate parts, the remarkable stair bridge designed by architect Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk spans 47 meters across a gorge offering a new perspective on the 182-meter-high waterfall.
Last year, about 300,000 tourists visited the waterfall. They were able to take advantage of phase one, which included viewing platforms, restroom facilities, stairs and fences near Fossli hotel.
The completion of phase one was desperately needed to make the attraction safer to visit, as a number of people had died in previous years. “Now we can send people up there with a clear conscience,” says Destination Eidfjord’s Marit Stadheim to NRK.
Stadheim added that the new bridge will draw many people to the Eidfjord area and wider Hardanger region in western Norway. However, not everyone agrees with the local tourist authority’s assessment.
Plenty of critics
“A circus in the mountains” is how one critical voice described the project in a recent opinion piece. The author, photographer and mountain climber Stein P. Aasheim added that it is the “worst maltreatment ever” of a nature icon in Norway.
“One could have understood the logic if the background for the intervention was to promote a destination that no one had heard of. Vøringsfossen is at the opposite end of that scale,” he explained. The spectacular waterfall has long been regarded as one of Norway’s best, and was the most visited natural attraction in Norway in 2018.
Nature photographer and Socialist Left MP Arne Nævra is another vocal opponent, calling the project an “abuse of nature.”
Norway’s scenic routes project
Since 1994, the Norwegian Scenic Routes project has seen millions invested in facilities along 18 stretches of road throughout Norway. The investment goes beyond improving the roads and opening rest stops. There’s a focus on architecture, with the aim to turn the rest stops into roadside attractions in their own right. In 2023, the 20-year investment project will come to an end.
The Vøringsfossen bridge is part of the Hardangervidda route, a 42 mile long road that crosses the biggest high-altitude mountain plateau in northern Europe.