Where am I?:^mistymornings-->Cycletouring-->Scandinavia 2006-->Day 17

Day 17. Kongsberg to Hvåra Bru.

Distance 77.7km Average 14.9km/h.

We awoke after a good nights sleep to cloudy skies and rain. We did some sorting out before heading to the breakfast room. We'd paid for bed and breakfast which pushed the price up, and made full use of the buffet. There was plenty to eat and we stocked up on carbohydrate in preparation for the day. As we were ready to leave it starting raining seriously.

We hoped that the weather would brighten up during our visit to Kongsberg church or at least not rain quite so hard. We cycled up to the church square to see the front entrance and found it locked. Wandering round to the other side we discovered another entrance which turned out to be the main entrance. What is with this church?

The surprise was on the inside, in contrast to the restrained classical exterior there was a gaudy baroque interior, with three tiers of stalls that made it look like a cross between a church and an opera house. The upper stalls partially blocked the windows and it looked as if someone had a spare opera house interior that they bunged into the shell of a church.

Actually this was not far from the mark. We heard the full story from the two young ladies who were collecting entrance fees. A pious puritan designed the church but only lived long enough to see the outside of the church completed. A pompous man then took over the job and saw the church building to its completion. He however had a very different idea of interior design than his predecessor. He went totally baroque.

The altar was moved from the graveyard side of the church to the other side. In doing this the priest whilst saying mass then faced the real god in the area, that is the mountain with all the silver mines in it. It also meant that the main entrance logically placed on the lovely square was now blocked by the altar so people had to use the back entrance (off the graveyard) to get in.

The tiers for seating were added with a strict class system built in (it's not just the English you know). The most important people had seats in front of the altar. The less well heeled you were the higher up in the stalls you had to sit. We went up to the top tier, and saw the raised seating at the back. The people at the top were around three metres above their floor level.

Norway was under Danish rule at the time and our interior designer being of the 'Ooooo royalty' school of servitude arranged for a special box to be built on the first floor for the King of Denmark. How often it has been used in the intervening centuries was not known by the young ladies. It was the only place we were not allowed walk round.

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