The recent history of Rjukan village It looks like something out of a movie, but as they say, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. This small village southern Norway It is located inside a valley, surrounded by high mountains and lush forests.

But that location, despite its natural beauty, comes with a major drawback. During the winter months, the mountains completely block the sun’s rays, making the town stay completely in the shadows. However, an ingenious solution put an end to that problem, and they built giant mirrors to reflect sunlight onto Rjukan.


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Industrial heritage and lots of nature in Rjukan

The village of Rjukan is located in the Telemark province, in the Østlandet region. This stands out for its important industrial heritage, which has earned it entry to the list of World Heritage along with Notodden. Both towns are a clear reflection of the transition from coal to hydroelectric energy that occurred in the 20th century. Today, you can still see many of the infrastructures that were built at that time, from dams and tunnels to power plants and railway lines and ferries. In addition, on the outskirts is the Vemork hydroelectric plant, converted into the Norwegian Museum of Industrial Workers.

Rjukan village nestled in a valley.
Rjukan village nestled in a valley.

Added to all this, of course, the natural attraction of the area, where you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, such as hiking trails or ice climbing. On the other hand, a few kilometers from the urban center, at the top of a mountain, stands Gausta ski resortwhich has 37 slopes and 13 lifts.

Mirrors to capture and redirect sun rays

Rjukan hides in the shadow of the imposing Gaustatoppen and its 1,883 meters of altitude. That enormous mountain, added to the deep valley where the town is located, means that during the winter months (from September to March) the sun’s rays cannot reach and remain in total darkness.

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Faced with this situation, the founder of the city of Rjukan, Sam Eyde, projected the idea of build a “Solspeil”, or solar mirror. However, it was not until 2005 when that plan was taken up by Martin Andersen, an artist and resident of the town. Thus, in 2013 the enormous mirrors were officially inaugurated: “a heliostat computer controlled, placed on the steep mountain wall, which captures the sun’s rays and directs them towards Rjukan“, they explain from the official tourism website of Rjukan.


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As a result, this structure at 742 meters above sea level illuminates an area of ​​about 600 m² in the center of the town, so that the inhabitants of the town can take advantage of the benefits of the sun during the cold winter.

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