A Norwegian mountain town long cloaked in shadow finally sees the light.

[one_half]Set in a deep valley, where the mountains choke out the sun, the small town of Rjukan, Norway, languishes in the darkness for half the year, every year. That is, until 2013, when giant mirrors finally brought light to a place where the sun don’t (normally) shine.

A little more than a century ago, Sam Eyde, the town’s founder and a noted industrialist, promoted the idea of having a mountainside Solspe il, or sun mirror, reflecting rays into Rjukan. Due to a lack of technology, he never turned his idea into reality and instead settled for the construction of a gondola up the mountain and into the sunshine. His original plans lay dormant until 2005, when a local artist named Martin Andersen spearheaded its revival.[/one_half][one_half]Funded by local donations, assorted government grants, and sizeable funds from Norsk Hydro—the company Sam Eyde started—the 51-square-metre, three-panelled Solspeil came to life at the end of October 2013. Installed on a mountain wall about 450 metres above Rjukan, the computer-controlled mirrors capture the sunlight and reflect it into the town square, covering an elliptical shape of about 600 square metres.

To celebrate the $5-million project’s official opening, the town’s 3,500 residents—along with a posse of curious onlookers and journalists—happily gathered in the town’s new sunny spot. Their future felt bright. And yes, they wore shades.