Ceremony for the King’s Road in Norway: “The Grand Prix was much more than we could have dreamt of”
The Grand Prix of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards for The King’s Road over Filefjell in Norway was grandly celebrated on 29 September. Around 300 heritage and cultural professionals, volunteers and supporters, and several representatives from local, national and European institutions – including Piet Jaspaert, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, and Ambassador Thierry Béchet, Head of the EU Delegation to Norway – attended the whole day ceremony along the historical road to celebrate this remarkable heritage achievement from the country. The 100 km long King’s Road now boasts two bronze Awards plaques, one on each side of the mountain of Filefjell.
The festive event began with speeches, entertainment and the unveiling of the first Awards plaque at Vindhella in Lærdal. The large group of participants then walked the famous winding curves of Vindhella, ending at the beautiful Borgund stave church. The second unveiling took place 80 km further east, at Kvamskleiva in Vang. Here there were speeches, entertainment and a chance to walk the magnificent Kvamskleiva. The event ended with traditional music, dancing and food at the old Kvam farm along the King’s Road.
Several representatives spoke about the rehabilitation project of The King’s Road across Filefjell. Ambassador Thierry Béchet, Head of the EU Delegation to Norway, talked about the importance of the Grand Prix and the local engagement in the project.
Piet Jaspaert, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, quoted the Heritage Awards Jury and stated: “This integrated project of cultural and landscape heritage is of the highest quality and was undertaken with a real focus on best practice in building. The road is not an invention but the revitalization of a heritage site which is well connected to the villages and settlements along the Road, which in turn enriches the local economy and motivates the local community to appreciate and care for their heritage”.
The Vice-President of Europa Nostra congratulated the Norwegian Public Road Administration, the Project Manager Jan Adriansen and the many professionals, volunteers and other actors, including the business network, for this unique undertaking and its wonderful results which promote health, outdoor activity and non-motorism. “The revival has been achieved by researching historic principles and techniques,” he noted.
On behalf of all the cooperation partners in the project, Bjørne Grimsrud, Head of the Director-General’s staff at the Norwegian Public Road Administration, expressed his gratitude for having been awarded the Grand Prix. “To receive an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award – the Oscar of cultural heritage – is amazing. “That we were also awarded the Grand Prix was much more than we could have dreamt of,” he said.
Bjørne Grimsrud emphasized that The King’s Road across Filefjell had focused on quality in all phases and that involvement by skilled craftsmen, other professionals and local communities had been important. “This Grand Prix is a result of the great effort and the good cooperation carried out for many years. It symbolizes more than good craftsmanship and the reasonable use of public funds. It tells us also that we stand much stronger together then each on his own, and that it is possible to reach fantastic results across both professional and geographical boundaries,” he added.
“The Grand Prix and the attention that is has generated motivates and stimulates us to continue our efforts. The Norwegian Public Road Administration are proud to have participated in the revitalisation of an important part of Norway’s history. Together we have created a world-class cultural heritage project! Thanks and congratulations to everyone!” concluded Bjørne Grimsrud.
Four mayors, from County Councils and the local municipalities, expressed their delight with Europe’s top heritage award and the project. Jenny Følling, Mayor of the County Council of Sogn og Fjordane, quoted the famous Norwegian adventurer and author Stein P. Åsheim: “The King’s Road should be on every must-experience-before-I-die-list, right behind skiing to the South Pole, but in front of the Pyramids of Egypt”.
Europa Nostra Norway was represented by its Chairman Erik Schulz, Eirik Saxvik and Grete Horntvelt.