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Roros, Norway

Introduction

Roros is a small town, both in size as well as population, as it is only home to about 3,600 people. Despite this, the town is well-known throughout the country due to the wealth it accumulated from the copper mines in the 1600s and 1700s. After the vast wealth from the mines slowly dissipated, the town changed little, making it well known amongst travelers who want to see authentic architecture from this time period.

Roros sits on a small plateau and the area is surrounded by higher mountains and birch trees. Sitting inland, the temperature extremes in Roros are much more pronounced than they are in much of Norway as winters are colder than the coasts and summers tend to be a bit warmer.

History & Background

Roros was little more than a village prior to the discovery of copper and today it remains a small town. Before this discovery the lands surrounding the village were commonly used by the Sami for reindeer herding and even today in the lands surrounding the town this continues to a lesser degree.

In the 1600s copper was discovered and the small village began to grow into a mining town. However growth was slow as the Norwegians and Swedes regularly fought in to late 1600s and early 1700s, leading to numerous takeovers of the town. With the end of the Great Northern War, which Norway and its allies won against Sweden, Roros settled back into copper mining.

The copper mines were working in full force by the mid-1700s and by the end of that century the town was one of the wealthiest in all of Norway. Many structures were built during this time including the church, which is among the most impressive in all of Norway. Although most of the wealth remained in the hands of the mine owners, the entire city was re-built at this time and today the town is a tourist destination due to this incredible period architecture.

The copper mines slowly declined in the 1800s and as prices for this good fluctuated so too did the wealth and well-being of Roros. The mining continued until 1977 when all mining in the town had ended and Roros fell into difficult economic times. Today the city is rebounding as tourism is growing.

Roros Today

Roros is a rural town today with a great and wealthy past. This past has granted the town its look and feel, but the cultural effects from this wealth have almost entirely vanished. Today most of the people are simply town folks working in industries no different from people in any other Norwegian town.

However, Roros differs greatly from any nearby town in the sense that the people are used to foreign visitors and many people rely on these visitors, both foreign and domestic, to make a living. In this way the people are very educated and opportunistic and this is displayed in numerous ways, including in the town's winter markets and festivals, which provide an economic boast during the slow tourist months.

Historical & Architectural Sights

Roros Church (Bergstadens Ziir / Røros Kirke): This church was built in 1784 (restored in the 2000s) and is known as "the mountain cathedral." It was built at a time when Roros was wealthy due to the copper mines, sparing no expense and making the church one of the most impressive churches in all of Norway. For more information visit their website at: www.roroskirke.no (Norwegian only).

Museums

Olav's Mine (Olavsgruva): A part of the Roros Museum, this mine tour takes you through the town's mining history and growth in wealth as you go 150 feet (50 meters) into the earth; be sure to dress warmly. For more information visit their website at: www.rorosmuseet.no.

The Smelting House (Smelthytta): A part of the Roros Museum, the smelthytta, or melting hut is where the copper was melted down from the mid-1600s until the mid-1900s (today's building is a reconstruction from the 1970s). The smelting house and museum today display the mining, melting, and production process of copper. For more information visit their website at: www.rorosmuseet.no.

Areas & Neighborhoods of Interest

The Historic Center of Roros is enough to draw most visitors to the town as it is home to most of the highlights listed above. The center has incredible architecture as it boasts an impressive church, shops, grass covered houses, and the mines.

Further Afield

Vingelen: The village of Vingelen, about 40 minutes from Roros, is home to dozens of old barns, shops, and houses from the 1800s. This mountain village gives the visitor a better insight into the local mountain culture than just about anywhere else in Norway since it is still home to herders and farmers who call these fields and the historic town home. For more information visit their website at: www.vingelen.com.

Transportation

There are only a few transportation options when it comes to Roros. There are regular flights to and from Oslo; trains also run through town and offer routes to Trondheim, Oslo, and numerous smaller destinations. Buses are limited, but a couple bus companies do offer a limited number of routes to and from Roros, most notably to Trondheim as well as nearby villages.

Airport: Roros's airport is the Roros Airport located about 1 mile (2 kilometers) from the city's center. The airport code is RRS. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Train Station: Roros's train station is located just west of town, within a short walk of the town itself. For train times and schedules, the website is: www.nsb.no. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Bus Station: There are a couple private bus companies that service Roros, including Gauldal Billag and Nor-Way Bussekspress. Buses pick up near the train stations. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Local Transportation: All of Roros's major sights are within a short walk and the town is quite small so there is no public transportation. Taxis can get you around town if needed.

Official Websites

City of Roros: www.roros.no
Kingdom of Norway: www.visitnorway.com

Map & Directions

This page was last updated: March, 2013