RÃ¸ros - Do you Mine?
Røros, Norway - a mining town for 333 years, from 1644 to 1977, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (since 1980)
Back in 1644 this place was nothing but a few houses and scattered farms, but then they struck gold, or rather copper. The story goes that a man named Hans Aasen was out hunting and shot a reindeer ram and in it's dying moment, it kicked some of the moss off the rock and revealed the copper underneath. And so began the mining town we can still see today. You can see a statue of the reindeer in the town today, right across from the smeltmine.
Walking around this amazing town really brings you back in time. More then 300 year old buildings, narrow streets and an interesting history. Of course you could do without all the modern stuff, like cars, different signs and modernly dressed people, but still it's easy to imagine what life must have been like for the folks who lived here way back when. It was a tough life for most, but there were also some wealthy people who had residence here. Even the Crown Prince of Denmark, Fredrik VI, visited this town. This was in 1788. He stayed in what was known as “the Director Mansion”. Or in Norwegian, Direktørgården.
A lot of these old buildings holds interesting history and it's well worth reading up on. Or better yet, pay the town a visit. I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry you did.
A little history:
The buildings in Røros and the town architecture are the same today as it was back in the 1600's when they were built. Also the street pattern and farming properties in the center of town are the same as were originally constructed in the 1600’s.
There are about a 100 buildings that are protected and some of them from as early as 1923.
The buildings were mainly one or two story buildings, with single, double or triple floor plans. Behind the main buildings you find the courtyards, often surrounded by stables, storage buildings and other buildings. The buildings were originally not paneled or painted, this came about later. By the mid 1700's they took on the appearance you can still see today with a separate kitchen and covered entrance to the courtyard.
The very first mine started it's production in 1645. It's located at Raudhammeren.
Røros is best known for its copper mining, but there were other minerals to be found there too. Among them were; iron, chromite, sulphur pyrite, lead, serpentine (magnesium silicate), zinc and cobalt. The mines are located outside of city center or should I say town center to the north. Both the Nyberget mine and Crown Prince Olav's mine is open for guided tours throughout the year .
n the 1680's it was legal to use child labor at Røros and it was not uncommon to see 10-12 year old boys in the mines. They were sett to clean and sort the ore that were taken up from the mines. This continued until 1915, much because Røros was allowed to continue with child labor long after everyone else had to stop. The factory law was admitted in 1892 stating that no one under the age of 14 could work in any kind of factory or mine, but for some reason Røros was excepted from this law. Much because the families were so poor that, if they didn't send their kids to work, the wouldn't be able to obtain a decent livingstandard. In 1909 there came an addition to the exception that stated that kids between 12 and 14 could no longer work more then 5 hours a day and only during school summer vacation. They would have to have a clean bill of health and not be submitted to anything that would be a danger to their health. After 1915, it was no longer legal with childlabor of any kind in Røros either.
Røros is also host of a annual event. It takes place In February every year, and is called “Rørosmartnan” Winter Fair. It was stated in a Royal decree in 1853 that from 1854 and onwards a yearly market should be held in Røros, commencing the second Tuesday in the month of February, lasting till the following Friday. It was later extended till Saturday and in February 2010 they celebrated the 158th Rørosmartnan. Rørosmartnan draws some 75.000 people every year.
Most of the fair takes place in the two main streets of Røros, and around 250 exhibitors have stalls in the streets and at the indoor trade fair.
You will find new stuff like fun fair and concerts, but the old traditions lives on.
Røros is well worth a visit, whether summer or winter. There's guided tours in the mines year round, but it's only during the summer months they arrange the tours daily. Rest of the year they're only on Saturdays. But it's the 5 days in February that Røros really comes to life and you get an amazing experience with the old traditions, the snow, horse-sleigh rides, market stalls etc.
Go check it out, I know I will do so again!