The scenic valley of Maridalen in Oslo is known as a rural oasis on the fringe of an urban environment. Now its biggest support group has won this year’s “cultural landscape prize” for its work to promote cultural development in the protected scenic area.
The group Maridalens Venner (Maridalen’s Friends) won the prestigious award from the national foundation for Norwegian cultural heritage (Norsk Kulturarv) and the state ministry of agriculture. It carries a cash award of NOK 50,000.
The cultural heritage foundation and the ministry claimed that Maridalens Venner contributes towards providing public enjoyment of the thriving agricultural landscape close to the city: “They contribute towards taking care of the open landscape with biological diversity and to take care of important culturally historic traditions.”
Among them is the annual outdoor performance called Maridalsspillet, about the Black Death, which takes place at the ruins of a church from the Middle Ages. The state-subsidized farms in Maridalen also frequently open up to visitors, and the valley features many popular trailheads for hiking, skiing and cycling.
At the northernmost end of the valley are several hilltops known as the “Maridal Alps,” which provide stunning views over the valley and back to the city and fjord from such peaks as Midtkollen and Øyungskollen. On the eastern side of the valley is the scenic ridge called Barlindåsen, an easy hike on marked blue trails from Sandermosen or Sørbråten.
The valley is dominated by the large lake called Maridalsvannet, which also serves as one of Oslo’s main sources of drinking water and feeds the Aker River (Akerselva) running through the city. It’s off-limits for swimming or boating, but several other lakes in the hills beckon swimmers such as Fagervann and Øyungen, the latter just a short hike on a forest road from the busstop at Skar.
The valley is served by either the city bus (other popular hiking and skiing trailheads are located at the stops for Låkeberget and Hammeren) or there’s a train stop at the far northeast end of the valley at Movatn. That’s also a gateway into the eastern portions of the forests of Nordmarka and into Lillomarka. Trail maps for Nordmarka and Lillomarka are available at most bookstores, several sporting goods stores and at the offices of the trekking association Den Norske Turistforeningen (DNT) on Storgata in downtown Oslo.
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