While Norway is highly integrated in the culture of Scandinavia and Europe, there are some arts & culture features distinct to Norway.


Within the Sami tradition, the yoik - characteristic a cappella singing -  is highly distinct and a key feature of Sami culture. Prominent artists like Mari Boin, Ande Somby and
Nils-Aslak Valkepää keeps this traditional song alive. The ceremonial Sami drum (rune drum) resembles those used in Siberia.

In the rest of Norway, the fiddle, in particular the characteristic Hardanger fiddle, has been the most typical instrument in folk music.  The Hardanger fiddle has an extra set of understrings or sympathetic strings creating additional resonance and the characteristic "haunting sound". The Hardanger fiddle is usually elaboratly decorated. A strong musical tradition and distinct style developed around the Hardanger fiddle.

Edvard Grieg, one of Norway's greatest classical composers, was heavyly influenced by folk music played on the Hardanger fiddle.  Grieg was also instrumental in preserving and increasing the prestige of folk music.

Alexander Rybak won the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with a melody based on folk music. Rybak was accompanied by dancers integrating traditional Halling dance.


Traditional architecture is dominated by wooden constructions, most notable in the unique stave churches. These are mostly found on remote, rural locations.

While stave churches are characterized by staves (posts) resting on sills (a frame construction), traditional wooden constructions were mostly log houses. In log houses the logs or lumber provide both support and insulation. Clapboard (weatherboarding) houses are today the standard construction for single-unit (villas) or duplex houses. While these may appear cheap or low-standard, Norwegians regard them as nice and solid. Modern clapboard houses are in fact complex designs adapted to the difficult climates of Norway. They are light framework constructions filled with thick insulating materials (making them comfortable all year), stylistically heavily influenced by Swiss Chalet style as well as traditional rural designs.

In a well-known poetic phrase it is said that Norway is a country of  "houses and cottages, and no castles".  This is largley true and distinguishes Norway even from close neighbours like Sweden. Notable exceptions are Akershus castle & fortress (centre of Oslo) and Bergenhus fortress (centre of Bergen), both massive, medieval buildings.

Gamlehaugen mansion in Bergen are one of the few private residences designed as a castle or palace. Gamlehaugen was erected as the home for the shipping magnate Christian Michelsen and his family. Gamlehaugen is inspired by Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.  Michelsen was the first prime minister of independent Norway (year 1905). After Michelsen's death Gamlehaugen was transfered to the national government. This modest castle is a national monument and also serves as the King's residence in Bergen. Gamlehaugen is surrounded by a delightful public park. It is perfectly located at Nordås lake near the main road (E39), about 3 kilometers north of Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg's residence.

Modern architecture such as Oslo Airport (at Gardermoen) and the new Opera House, are also distinct achievements by Norwegian archictects and builders.

This is a link to some tourist bureau information about:-

Arts & Culture in Norway