Kristiansund has a unique place in Norwegian life. Experts believe that the land around Kristiansund was the first to be uncovered when the glaciers of the Ice Age receded from Scandinavia. As the land was exposed, it tempted settlers from other parts of Europe to come here. These settlers became the first Norwegians more than 10,000 years ago.
Modern Kristiansund bears no traces of its first inhabitants, but the city remains a great destination for travellers. With a character developed from its status as a major fishing centre and trading town, Kristiansund offers history and style.
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City of islands
Kristiansund rests on five islands, the largest of which, Frei, became part of the city just a short while ago. The other four islands are Gomalandet, Kirkelandet, Nordlandet and Innlandet. There are also numerous small islands within the city’s boundaries.
It’s useful to know the names of Kristiansund’s five islands so that you can navigate across the city more easily. The word "navigate" is apt here because Sundbåten passenger ferries between the islands are one of the main forms of transport. In fact, Sundbåten, founded in 1876, is one of the oldest public transport systems in the world.
If you want to go back in time take one of the Sundbåten ferries from Piren ferry port to Kristiansund's smallest island, Innlandet. At Gamle Byen on the island, you can wander among timber buildings that date back to the seventeenth century. You can also visit Lossiusgården, the splendid 18th-century home of a wealthy Kristiansund merchant.
After enjoying the sights, make your way to the Dødeladen Café. This 300-year-old venue is a great place to conclude any tour.
To learn more about Kristiansund, catch a Sundbåten ferry from the city centre to the Klippfish Museum. The museum is in the Milnbrygga warehouse on Gomalandet. Here you'll find the history of the fishing industry in Kristiansund explained and illustrated.
Armed with this knowledge, visit the rather jumbled but delightful Mellemværftet (Middle Wharf) boatyard. This is one of the boatyards that formerly made and repaired the Kristiansund fishing fleet. Even today, you can still see the untidy remnants of the yard’s workshop and forge.
Historical buildings in the city that are more intact are the Festiviteten and Kristiansund Church. The Festiviteten is the city's Opera House. Opened in 1914, it’s the oldest opera house in Norway and has a splendid Art Nouveau interior. The Kristiansund Church, completed in 1964, is the work of the architect Odd Østby. Inside there are 320 panes of stained glass that create a wonderful effect of colour and light.
As you explore the city, you may well record your sightseeing with photos. If you're a particularly keen photographer you may even wish to time your trip to Kristiansund with Nordic Light, the largest photography festival in northern Europe. This is a great opportunity to see landscapes and portraits by some of the best photographers around.
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