Avaldsnes is Norway's oldest royal residence and seat of power
The shipping lane north from Stavanger goes through the Karmsund strait, with the island of Karmøy on the port side and Haugesund on the starboard side. Avaldsnes, Karmøy is located in the middle of Karmsund strait, in the narrowest part of the shipping lane. Karmsundet – Nordvegen – was formerly the main route to Avaldsnes. It was also this shipping lane – Nordvegen – that gave Norway its name. Avaldsnes was an important seat of power for thousands of years. The primary aim was the control and taxation of traffic through the Karmsund strait.
This was supposedly a king’s estate during the reign of Harald Hårfagre and Avaldsnes was Norway's oldest royal residence and seat of power. St. Olav’s Church, built by King Håkon Håkonsson, still stands at Avaldsnes. It was built around 1250 and completed in 1320.
Just north of St. Olavs Church is Salhus Farm by Salhusstraumen. The place was a hostel for pilgrims. One of the local pilgrim trails to Karmsundet is still known of today. It came from the east and involved boat transport across Karmsundet strait. Apparently, the entrance to the church for pilgrims was through a door in the north wall, which is now bricked up. This was known as the “seafarers’ door”, perhaps because pilgrims arrived by sea.
The regional pilgrim centre is located in the same place as St. Olav’s Church at Avaldness and the Nordvegen History Centre.
The Pilgrim Centre wants to coordinate and develop key places along the Kystpilgrimsleia (the Coastal pilgrim trail) in cooperation with the county administration, municipalities, Church of Norway, museums and other stakeholders. It will also be an important source of support in connection with local and regional sustainable tourism and national pilgrimage efforts in the following five key places:
• Obrestad Lighthouse /Hå gamle prestegard (Old Vicarage)
• Stavanger Cathedral
• Utstein Monastery and Utstein Pilgrim Farm
• Avaldsnes and St. Olav’s Church at Avaldsnes and Nordvegen History Centre