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Norway: Old Stavanger

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Old Stavanger | Norway | Europe

[Visited: July 2008 and several times before]

The history of Stavanger goes back more than 1,000 years, and probably even dates from around the 800s. It has always had importance as an economic city; it served as a market town, and was home to shipbuilding and canning industry. More recently, Stavanger developed as the petroleum capital of Norway. For a city with such a long history, the centre looks remarkably modern: present-day downtown Stavanger is a busy area with the 12th century Stavanger Domkirke, but to go to the old part, you have to cross to the other side of Vågen, the natural harbour of Stavanger.

Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Clouds and sunset over Old Stavanger

The area of Old Stavanger, or Straen, was developed during the 17th and 18th centuries, but frequent fires destroyed the vulnerable wooden houses several times. The houses that you can see now, date from the 19th century. After the end of the Second World War, it was decided to tear all old houses down, but a city architect prevented this from happening. Instead, the area received several face lifts, to become a trendy area to live in. At the waterfront, you can find bigger houses that once were warehouses and merchant houses, while the smaller houses behind originally were for craftsmen and sailors. When I entered, the sun was already low, and it was geting chilly.

Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Window in a house in Old Stavanger catching last light of the day

From the eastern side of Vågen, the waterfront looks attractive, but behind the friendly facade you can find the real character of Old Stavanger. I entered Old Stavanger from above, which gave me some nice views over the harbour. Soon after starting to explore the streets, I realized that the streets were almost completely deserted, that there was almost no sound, a pleasant serenity enveloped the typical white wooden houses of this charming old town. Here you can find no bars, shops or hotels: it is a purely residential area. I noticed flowers growing against most of the houses and pink-orange rays of sunlight falling into the windows. Even though the houses look similar, they are all unique when you have a closer look. I liked the atmosphere so much, that I cruised the cobble-stone streets until the houses had transformed into black pointy silhouettes against a dark blue sky.

Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Wooden houses surrounding a small square in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Cobble-stone street of Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Typical alley in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Quiet street in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Flowers and cobble-stones in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): White houses lining a quiet street in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): White painted wooden houses are the standard in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Houses in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Typical houses of Old Stavanger catching the last daylight
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Cobble-stone street with white houses near the harbour, Vågen
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Typical houses of Old Stavanger during dusk
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Top of house with dark cloud in Old Stavanger
Picture of Old Stavanger (Norway): Looking up a typical white house in Old Stavanger

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Old Stavanger (Norway). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Old Stavanger.
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