Alvøen is one of the oldest industrial places in Norway. As early as the 1620s a gunpowder mill was built here. The place itself was well situated for industrial activity, lying only 100 m from the waterfall, which provided power for the mill, and a good harbour wherefrom the products were shipped. The success of the gun-powder mill varied in the 1600s and 1700s, but what made Alvøen best known was its paper production.
As a fairytale castle Damsgård Hovedgård lies on the slope rising up from the Puddefjord. The old connection between the farm and the sea, as we see it on Dreier’s prospectus from 1810, has been broken up by roads and encroachments in the building mass. But the main building itself is a central monument in Norwegian architecture from the 1700s – one of the finest representatives for the rococo period, with a magnificent and rich décor both in its interior and exterior.
Garden Stend høyrde i mellomalderen til Nonneseter kloster. Etter reformasjonen var han i eiga til Vincents Lunge fram til 1680. Då overtok generaltollforvaltar Hans Christophersøn Hiorth eigedommen. Hiorth vart adla i 1682, og Stend fekk status som adeleg setegard. Truleg fekk den staselege hovudbygningen si form i Hiorths embetstid.
Alrekstad (later Årstad) is the birthplace of Bergen. The estate was an estate for Harald Hårfagre and several of his descendants: Eirik Blodøks, Håkon den gode og Olav Tryggvason. These first kings moved with their courts and guardsmen from estate to estate. From these estates the king ruled the country.
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:
Halfway into the Sævareidfjord lies the officer’s farm Engevik. In the beginning of the 1700s the farm was in part estate of the crown and owned by farmers. In 1724 lieutenant-colonel Christian Wilhelm Segelcke settled there and erected a new farm around an imposing main building a little way north of the old farm site.
HOLMEN AND THE KØLLE FAMILY Holmen lies by the fjord, innermost in Ulvikpollen. Originally this was a small smallholding or coast dweller’s place belonging to the farm Håheim. Major Johan Henrik Palludan obtained leasehold for a part of Holmen in 1773, and erected a grand house, as he was the head of Nordre Hardangerske kompani. In 1806 Mrs Palludin sold Holmen to the somewhat eccentric theologian Kristian Kølle, and thus the Kølle family came to Ulvik. Today the Kølle house in Holmen is gone, today it is the residence of the principal of the State horticultural school that occupies the ground – a villa in the dragon style from the turn of the previous century.
Numerous finds show that the settlement at Herdla goes back to prehistoric times, and the large estate at Herdla has enjoyed a central place in the nation’s history since High Middle Ages. As Ask, Herdla was part of the country estate Harald Hårfagre took over as he took command of the west of Norway.
From the 1500s Hop was noble estate for the law speaker in Bergen and Gulen judicial districts. Several of the law speakers were of noble descent, such as Hans Hansen Lillienskiold and Niels Knagenhielm. The beautiful main building, still standing, was erected by the Bergen merchant Thomas Erichsen in 1793-95. He also established a magnificent garden with an 800 metres long linden avenue reaching down to the stone boathouse at Hop harbour.
Sæheim (Seim) at Lygrefjord is mentioned as one of the royal farms of Harald Hårfagre. Several of the first Norwegian national kings had their seat here, and the farm became Crown Property up to the 1400s. According to the sagas, Håkon den gode is buried on the farm.