The Sognefjord (or Sognefjorden) is the largest fjord in Norway, and the third longest in the world. Located in Sogn og Fjordane county, it stretches 205 kilometres (127 mi) inland to the small village of Skjolden. The fjord takes its name from the traditional district of Sogn.
The fjord reaches a maximum depth of 1,308 metres (4,291 ft) below sea level, and the greatest depths are found in the inland parts of the fjord. Near its mouth, the bottom rises abruptly to a sill about 100 metres (330 ft) below sea level. The average width of the main branch of the Sognefjord is about 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi). Cliffs surrounding the fjord rise almost sheer from the water to heights of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and more.
The inner end of the Sognefjord is localized southeast of a mountain range rising to about 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above sea level and covered by the Jostedalsbreen, continental Europe's largest glacier. Thus the climate of the inner end of Sognefjord and its branches is not as wet as on the outer coastline.
Smaller fjords which branch off from the Sognefjord include Esefjorden, Fjærlandsfjord, Sogndalsfjord, Lustrafjord, Årdalsfjord, Lærdalsfjord, Aurlandsfjord, and Nærøyfjord (which is also a World Heritage Site).
The innermost arm of the Sognefjord is called the Lustrafjord. At its end, there is the village of Skjolden, which is an access to Jotunheimen National Park. In earlier times, transport between Bergen and the Scandinavian inland was by boat between Bergen and Skjolden and from there on a simple road over the highlands.
Boats connect settlements along the fjord and its sidearms. Towns on the fjord and its branches include Høyanger, Vik, Sogndal, Lærdal, Årdal, Gaupne, Balestrand, Gudvangen, and Flåm. Gudvangen is situated by the Nærøyfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord particularly noted for its unspoiled nature and dramatic scenery, and only 300 metres (980 ft) across at its narrowest point. The Nærøyfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Flåm, the Flåm Railway climbs 864 metres (2,835 ft) up to Myrdal Station in a distance of only 20 kilometres (12 mi)—the steepest unassisted railway climb in the world.
The Sognefjord Span (power lines) crosses the fjord with a span of 4,597 metres (15,082 ft). This is the second largest span of power lines in the world. The fjord has become a tourist attraction with summer tourists being an important part of the local economy.
- On 24 November 1972, the submarine KNM Sklinna of the Royal Norwegian Navy had "contact" with what they presumed was a Whiskey-class submarine, after 14 days of "hunt" in Sognefjord. Newly released military documents confirms this episode.
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- Flåmsbana information
- Art of the States: Bright Days of Little Sunlight musical work inspired by the Sognefjord