| Central southern Norway,
comprising Oppland and Hedmark, is a land of mountains,
spectacular glacial valleys, including Gudbrandsdal,
one of country’s longest and most beautiful, and high plateaux.
Lightly populated throughout the region, apart from the larger centres
of Elverum, Hamar, Kongsvinger and Lillehammer
(site of the 1994 Winter Olympics), this is a region
of small settlements suitable for those seeking solitude and wilderness
– or the winter sports facilities.
Festning (fortress) dates from the 17th century, but never
came under Swedish attack. To the north is the Dovrefjell
National Park – mythical home of the Mountain
King (Dovregubben) immortalised by Grieg, and where musk
oxen are occasionally spotted roaming wild on the high plateau.
Norway's biggest skiing and winter sports centre, offering both
Alpine and Nordic disciplines, Lillehammer stands on the banks of
the Mjøsa Lake, Norway’s largest with
an area of 362 sq km (140 sq miles), and which reputedly conceals
a ‘Loch Ness’ monster.
Among non-winter-specific attractions in the town are the Norwegian
Olympic Museum, the Maihaugen Open Air Museum
(which features a collection of over 170 historic buildings from
the Gudbrandsdal region), and the Art Museum, with
its extensive Norwegian collections.
At the northern end of the Mjøsa Lake, Hamar
contains the Hedmark Museum, dedicated to the medieval
period. There is also a Museum of Holography, unique
in the country, and the Olympic Hall, which staged skating events
during the 1994 Winter Olympics. The Cathedral,
restored during 1954, has origins dating back to the 11th century
dawn of Norwegian Christianity.