The beautiful vicarage on the Fjelberg Island lies a few minutes walk up from the fjord, in a compact enclosure with the church south of the main building and the bishop’s residence to the north; a rare harmonic cluster.
The stately Kvinnherad Church with its characteristic profile set out against the mighty Malmangernuten in the background, gives you a rare feeling of being present in a historic landscape as you come around Nes and face the well-kept houses at the Skåla farm. The church at Skåla is one of four “fjordungskirker” (one of four main district churches) and this farm was the centre of this coastal administration district.
Ænes has been one of the prosperous farms at the Mauranger Fjord in medieval times. At the time of Harald Gilles, around 1130, we hear of GAUT at Ænes. The noble families around the Hardanger Fjord were prominent in the political sphere from early on, and it is obvious that the fine and openly situated farm at Ænes was also a good place for a Church.
Apart from the king’s estate at Holmen, Håkonshallen and the lower floors of the Rosenkrantz tower, the three parish churches in the centre of Bergen are what have been preserved from medieval Bergen: Mariakirken, Korskirken and Olavskirken (the cathedral). The Romanesque base of the tower from Nonneseter monastery church on the spit between the two Lundegård lakes can still be seen in the landscape, while the other medieval buildings now lie in ruins: the town’s oldest town hall and wine cellar at Nikolaikirkealmenning, Lavranskirken and Maria Gildeskåle between Mariakirken and Bryggens Museum and the Katarina hospital on the north side of Dreggsalmenningen.
In the Scholeus engraving (section on the right) from the 1850s the fortified king’s estate at the entrance to Vågen has become a modern Renaissance palace – Bergenhus palace. The church edifices have disappeared. The picture is now dominated by the tower “the small castle by the sea”, which had recently gone through a considerable enlargement.
The old church at Holdhus is one of the oldest timbered churches left in the west of Norway. The new church at Eide, built in 1889, replaced the church location from the Middle Ages. As the small, tarred church lies today, in the hilly landscape at Holdhus, it was taken over by the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments, who obtained title to the property in 1900 from Hans Holdhus.
The first mention of Granvin church in written sources is in 1306, but the church location must be far older than this. The farm Storegraven is centrally situated at Granvinsvatnet, by the important traffic artery between Hardanger and Voss, where the road takes off to Ulvik.
On the south side of Askøy, just west of Bergen, lies Strusshamn. The sheltered bay is one of the best harbours in Byfjorden, on the route south. At the time of the sailing ships the harbour could be full of vessels from Bergen and abroad, lying in wait for favourable wind. Old anchoring rings from 1687 bear witness to this. Strusshamn was a quarantine harbour for ships that came sailing in with the yellow pest flag flying.
Ådland, innermost in the Samnanger Fjord is an old church centre and transport centre; a nodal point in the transport from sea to land. The white painted church standing today, was built in 1851, but there were two older churches here in former centuries.
On the farm Hjelmo, furthest north in Øygarden, in the innermost part of a long bay, there is a fine boatshed collection with a church beside it. From times immemorial this has probably been the fish-shed location for these farm units and this was also the landing place for the churchgoers.