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Down by the fjord at Svåsand, close to the main highway, there is a long row of boathouses, one of the well-preserved, older boathouse locations along the Hardanger fjord. It is the farms at Svåsand that have their boathouses here, four main farms with origins far back in time.
When bishop J.Neumann was on a visitation in Hardanger in 1825 he also visited Torsnes, the seat of the Galtung family. They were then in the process of pulling down the old dwelling house on the farm. As the committed observer of ancient monuments and antiquarian buildings that he was, bishop Neumann has provided us with interesting details:
The transport exchange on the farm Vik in Eidfjord was an important part of the communication network in older times. This is where people secured transport by boat out in the fjord, those travelling across the mountain from east and down into Måbødalen. The transport exchange was situated at “Wiige grund”. Today the highway cuts through the farmyard; the main farmhouse from the 1800s lies on the upper side of the road, the large sea-house, with a bakery in former times, lies close to the fjord.
In the Middle Ages the farmers were under obligation to transport state officials. The bishops were entitled to 18 horses when they travelled about on visitations, and the king could requisition free transport.
Bruosen is one of the few river harbours in the county. As landing place for the churchgoers, this place and the boatshed environment follow a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, but the country store of today is much younger.
Through Adolph Tidemand’s detailed close-ups of smokehouses in Kvam, the vicarage in Vikøy, where he lived during his painting trips through Hardanger, has obtained a central position in the Norwegian national romanticism.
The pioneering tourists in the 1830s-40s brought a momentum in the tourist traffic to the fjord and mountain country Norway. At the time Odda was a hidden Shangri-La at the bottom of Sørfjorden; the farm and the church on the green headland at the fjord. But when the steamship traffic opened the fjord landscape for tourism, in a few years Odda parish in Søndre Bergenhus County became the focal point for travellers in West Norway.