Maristova Cultural Heritage
- Destination: Kongevegen
- Season: January-November
Maristova is one of the oldest mountain huts for trekkers in the country, and it was even written about in medical accounts as far back as the 1300s. Mountain huts, or ‘sælestovene’ as they once were called, were important to ensure the safety of all persons out in the surrounding mountains. The King and bishop in Bergen, supported Maristova and guaranteed that there would always be food and drink for passing travelers. For over 500 years, up until 1845, several of the farms in Sogn were obliged to pay state taxes in the form of grain to Maristova.
After the Reformation in 1537, the state took over the running of the ‘sælestovene’ Maristova and it soon became available only for officials. Commoners in the area now had to find access to other huts in the area.
When the construction of the Old King’s Road began, there were three empty huts at Maristova in addition to the bigger mountain hut. These smaller huts served the farmers of Lærdal, Borgund and Årdal.
In 1790 the conditions of the original mountain hut was so poor that the state decided to build a new one. The newly built ‘Margarethestuen’ remained available only to traveling civil servants, and therefore the decorations were quite upscale for the times. The interior had specially designed chairs, beds, wine glasses, fine porcelain, down bedding and top quality sheets with the monogram of King Christian the 7th on them.
General Hammer was the first guest to stay there on July 9th, 1792 and sent a letter about this visit to the Minister Iwer Moss. “The room was sufficient, clean and prepared for my arrival,” he stated then added that “they have good beer.”
In the 1800s the government sold several mountain huts, and in 1847 Maristova was sold to Anders Jonson Nystuen (1814-1886). He was the brother of Knut Basen Nystuen, who had bought Nystøga, a mountain lodge on east side of Filefjell. Included in the acquisition there were obligations such as road maintenance, record keeping, snow plowing, accommodation and catering.
In 1884 Knut Andersen Maristuen built a great Swiss style hotel at Maristova, which soon became a major tourist attraction. In the guestbook you’ll find notable artists such as John Flintoe, Gerhard Munthe and Adolf Tidemand. Edvard Grieg and the royal family were also there several times. The hotel, after several renovations and extensions over time, ended up burning down in 1976, and apartment style hotel was rebuilt instead.
The name Margaretha Stova is mentioned in sources as far back as the 1300s. Why the name Margaretha was used is uncertain, but it’s not inconceivable it was named after the holy Virgin Margaret (275-290). She was well known in the Catholic circles of Norway. Today the ‘Margaretha Stova’ lodge that was built in 1792 is a private museum with many interesting artifacts.
Transportation of People:
For people travelling far, there were local transportation systems at regular intervals along the route. Each leg of the journey was about 15-18km. Between legs there were places available to spend the night and horses and coachmen were available for the travellers to hire at each station. This was the necessary way to travel before cars existed. Local farmers had applied to operate these shuttle stations, and were obliged to transport travellers further whenever requested. Over Filefjell, these shuttle stations were operational:
- Blaaflat (på Ljøsne)
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