Fjords are considered to be among the most beautiful sights of the world: narrow, winding, and cut deep into the land, these sea bays are lodged between steep cliffs that sometimes reach 1,000 meters high. They can be found all around the world from Chile to Russia, but not everybody knows about them. When you mention fjords, most people think about Norway, because it has the highest number of most beautiful fjords in the world.
A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by ice segregation and abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice load and eroded sediment is removed. In some cases this rebound is faster than sea level rise. Most fjords are deeper than the adjacent sea. Sognefjord, Norway, reaches as much as 1,300 m (4,265 ft) below sea level.
Not to mention that nature made fjords look different from one another, so you can't get tired of admiring them. Each fjord is unique. UNESCO lists Geirangerfjorden and Nærøyfjord as the most important Norway landmarks. Of all Norwegian fjords it was their peculiar beauty that helped them get included in the World Heritage List.
There is a Museum of Norway Fjords near Geirangerfjorde, and Nærøyfjord is the narrowest fjord in the country. It stretches 17 kilometers in length and 300 meters in width (in its narrowest part). Other distinctive features of Nærøyfjord include steep cliffs rising 1,400 meters above the Norwegian Sea and going deep under the water. Numerous waterfalls stream down the cliffs, and there are fast rivers that flow across forests and glacial lakes above them, away from the edge. There are many observation decks for countless tourists wishing to see famous fjords of Norway.
Beside Geirangerfjorden, Nordfjorden is the most northern fjord in the western part of the country. It stretches 110 kilometers from the glacier Jostedalsbreen all the way to the ocean, and reaches 565 meters below sea level with a maximum width of 5 kilometers.
Jostedalsbreen (or Yustedalsbreen) is the biggest glacier in Europe. It has an area of 487 square kilometers, measuring 600 meters in its thickest part and 60 kilometers in length. In the Nordfjorden region glacier's "tongue" descends so low from the mountains that you can even touch it!
However this is not the most interesting sightseeing around Nordfjorden — there is also Hornindalsvatnet, the deepest lake (514 meters) in Europe.
179 km long Hardangerfjorden is the third longest fjord in the world and second in the country. It is often referred to as "Norwegian Garden" and it is best to visit when numerous fruit trees alongside the fjord are in bloom. Magnificent waterfalls stream down the Hardangerfjorden, including 145 meters high Vøringsfossen. Nearby National Park Folgefonna was created to protect the giant 207 kilometers long glacier. Another place of interest is the smallest castle of Scandinavia built in the middle of the 17th century by Baron Ludvig Rosenkrantz.
The record breaker is Sognefjorden. It stretches 204 kilometers and drops 1,308 meters below sea level. That makes Sognefjorden not only the longest fjord in Norway, but also the deepest in Europe. Locals respectfully call it the "King of the fjords."
Smaller — but no less spectacular — fjords of Norway branch out of Sognefjorden. We could give you a lot of interesting facts about these fjords, but it would not describe their true value.
However it would be a mistake to think of Norwegian fjords only in terms of their length or depth (in that case they would be interesting only to geographers and mathematicians). This natural monument (or, rather, phenomenon) takes your breath away with its magnitude, amazing combination of uniqueness and harmony, natural beauty untouched by civilization (despite the fact that not only tiny fishing boats, but also giant cruise ships furrow them back and forth), clear water of unbelievable colors, and so much more...
You just have to see and experience it. Those, who have never taken a trip to the Norwegian fjords, can take a sneak peek through our panoramas, while those, who have already been there, are happily revisiting unforgettable moments of their trip to Norway.
Photography by Dmitry Moiseenko
16 April 2013
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