World Heritage #1486 – Rjukan-Notodden

Last modified 10.04.2024 | Published 25.07.2015Norway, Norway Places, Norway's Heritage Sites, World Heritage Sites

Est. reading time:

Yes, Rjukan-Notodden is an Industrial Heritage Site but it is also the site of one of the most spectacular commando operations during World War II.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes over a thousand properties of outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Full name: Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site
  • Country: Norway
  • Date of Inscription: 2015
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 1486:

Located in a dramatic landscape of mountains, waterfalls and river valleys, the site comprises hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, factories, transport systems and towns. The complex was established by the Norsk-Hydro Company to manufacture artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air. They built it to meet the Western world’s growing demand for agricultural production in the early 20th century.

The company towns of Rjukan and Notodden show workers’ accommodation and social institutions linked by rail and ferry to ports where the fertilizer was loaded. The Rjukan-Notodden site manifests an exceptional combination of industrial assets and themes associated to the natural landscape. It stands out as an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century.

My visit

The heritage list seems to be expanding with more “company towns” like the Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site.

In Norway there could have been several more on the List, for instance Høyanger, Odda and Sauda. The Norwegian nomination application mentions all of them. At the end of the day, Rjukan and Notodden pulled the longest straw and won the prize. They deserve it.

Our visit was just a few weeks after the final decision in the World Heritage Committee. We gave priority to the train station called Mæl. Here cargo trains from Rjukan drove on board ships before the next leg of railroad to Notodden and longer.

We also visited the old hydroelectric turbines at the Vemork power plant. This is where Nazi-Germany with the help of Norsk Hydro produced “heavy water” with the purpose of developing a nuclear capability. After four attacks by the Allies, they gave up.

About this series of blog entries.

Browse to the PREVIOUS or NEXT post in this series.

Telemark - Tinn - Mæl stasjon - Ammonia
The saloon of the Director General of Norsk Hydro on board the DS Ammonia, now docked at Mæl station.