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.
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.
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.
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. Read more about this site.