In anticipation of an upcoming visit to Norway, we did a little advance research on the city of Stavanger.
21 Interesting Facts About Stavanger, Norway
1. The first traces of settlement in the Stavanger region date to the Ice Age and the time of the Vikings.
2. Just two miles from central Stavanger, the Jernaldergarden Iron Age farmstead recreates today how Vikings lived in the area around 350-550 BC —with longhouses and burial mounds—based on excavations conducted by the Museum of Archaeology.
3. In 872 — in the area around Stavanger — King Harald Fairhair gathered all of Norway under one crown in the Battle of Hafrsfjord.
4. Today, in the Hafrsfjord neighborhood, the imposing Swords in the Rock (Sverd i Fjell) monument commemorates the historic battle. Three giant bronze swords standing 33 ft. fall are stabbed into the rock of a small hill. Created by Norwegian sculptor Fritz Røed, the largest sword represents the victorious King Harald, and the two smaller swords represent the defeated petty kings.
5. One of Norway’s oldest cities, Stavanger was officially founded in 1125, the same year that the Stavanger Cathedral was completed.
6. Stavanger Cathedral is Norway’s only active cathedral that dates to the Middle Ages. Originally built between 1122 and 1125 in the Anglo-Norman style, it was reconstructed with a Gothic chancel after suffering fire damage in 1272.
7. Home to nearly 200 18th and 19th century white timber houses, Stavanger’s Old Town (Gamle Stavanger) is preserved as a historical monument. Closed to cars, the charming, pedestrian-friendly area includes restaurants, an open-air market, and small fishing boats along the harbor selling freshly caught shrimp, crab and lobsters.
8. Located on an old wharf, the Stavanger Maritime Museum shows the maritime development that occurred through the city, from early sailing ships to emigration to America to the modern oil industry support vessels.
9. Herring fisheries gave Stavanger new life during the first half of the 20th century. Home to 50+ canneries, Stavanger was known as the “canned capital of Norway” in the 1950’s. While the last of these factories closed in 2002, the Norwegian Canning Museum details Stavanger’s role in the fish-canning industry.
10. In 1969, a new boom started when oil was first discovered in the North Sea. With its close proximity to North Sea oil-fields, air connections, and good harbor, Stavanger was well-positioned to take advantage of the increased petroleum-exploration and production activity.
11. Today oil is Stavanger’s key industry, making the city the “Oil Capital of Norway.”
12. Norwegian energy company Statoil is headquartered in Stavanger.
13. Every two years, Stavanger hosts the Offshore Northern Seas oil and gas industry exhibition during the last week of August. Offshore Northern Seas 2016 will be the 21st ONS since 1974, and run from August 29th to September 1st, 2016.
14. Housed in a slab-like building resembling an oil platform, the Norwegian Petroleum Museum showcases the history of oil and gas exploration. Opened in 1998, it is Stavanger’s most- visited museum.
15. The Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) is a NATO military establishment headquartered in Stavanger.
16. The Rogaland Art Museum features paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, Christian Krogh, Eilif Peterssen and Harriet Backer. The Stavanger museum also has the largest collection of Lars Hertervigs’ work.
17. Close to Stavanger are several famous outdoor attractions. Kjeragbolten is a rock wedged in the cliff approximately 3,200 feet above the fjord. The straight fall down to the fjord makes Kjerag a very popular location for BASE jumping.
18. Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) is an often-photographed steep cliff which rises 1,982 ft. above the Lysefjord. After making a 2.4 miles strenuous hike up to the top of the cliff, hikers reach a relatively flat top of approximately 82 ft. × 82 ft., which provides a breathtaking view of the fjord below.
19. Along the coast south of Stavanger there are a number of large, sandy beaches within close reach from the city.
20. Built in 1964, the 210 foot high Ullandhaug Tower sits atop a hill dotted with Viking stone relics. While the upper levels of the telecommunications tower are not accessible to the public, you can take the elevator up to the café level and get good views of Stavanger and the surrounding fjords.
21. Norway’s largest bank robbery occurred in Stavanger at the NOKAS cash depot in in on April 5, 2004. The thieves escaped with 57.4 million kroner (about $10 million USD.) While the perpetrators were convicted, 51 million kroner of the stolen monies are yet to be recovered. This story is the basis of the movie Nokas, which premiered in October, 2010.
What interesting fact can you add about Stavanger, Norway?
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