The Agora, Norway, Arctic Circle: World's largest public sauna opens at SALT

Set on a remote beach on Sandhornøya, a small island within Norway's Arctic Circle, the Agora, which claims to be the largest public sauna in the world, has opened this summer. The glass-fronted sauna is said to offer "extraordinary" and "breath-taking" panoramic views over the Arctic Sea and the island's mountain landscape.

Housing more than 100 people and its own bar, and with an "ambient soundtrack" playing in the background, the pyramid-shaped sauna forms part of SALT, a cultural site featuring several structures built in the form of traditional fish racks, which are said to be a symbol of local life in the country's northern region who have used the racks for thousands of years.

Set just outside the town of Bodø, which has an airport offering directs flights to Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø, travellers can access the SALT site in just over an hour by car or bus, or in 30 minutes by boat from Bodø.

The portable art project was launched last summer and will remain on the island until 2016.

The auditorium-style venue, open every Saturday between 12pm and 6pm until the autumn, is also used as an event space for talks, performances and other cultural programmes.

Entry fees cost NOK (Norwegian Krone) 175 ($A28.93) for adults and NOK 90 ($A14.88) for children under 17. Towels and bathrobes can be rented at the sauna.

The SALT site also features a large scale gallery structure known as The Arctic Pyramid which exhibits different art projects, such as its current video installation called 'The Light That I Feel'. The site also has a live performance hall, Gildehallen, which can hold up to 1000 people for concerts, club nights and dining events.

Guests can also access Naustet Bistro, a café and bar space featuring the Lantemen Restaurant which offers Norwegian fare made from fresh locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.

Entrance to the beach area of the SALT site costs NOK 90 ($A14.88) for adults and NOK 50 ($A8.27) for children 16 and younger. Guests can camp on the beach in one of the Njalla spaces, small mobile lodges designed to be a hybrid between a house and a tent, installed with glass ceilings, beds, and wood-burning stoves.

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Guests can also opt to rent a tent or a caravan in the designated camping area set 100 metres from the other SALT structures. The camping spot is adjacent to a service building with toilets and showers.

In the next few years, the SALT project will be based in various northernmost parts of the world, including Scotland, as well as Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Spitsbergen, Alaska and Russia.

See www.salted.no/sauna-every-saturday/.

The Telegraph, London

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