Sunday, October 22, 2006

Arendal - Venice of the north

Arendal, the administrative centre of Aust-Agder county, is the second largest city of the South East coast of Norway. Its history goes back nearly 500 years.

It was originally built on 7 small islands and until early 20th century you could still see the canals that once divided the city. Then it was known as the Venice of the north.

The city was first mentioned in 1528 and recieved city status by the crown in Copenhagen in 1723. It used to be the one of the larges maritime cities in Northern Europe. Today it is charming mix of old buildings and modern architecture. At Tyholmen you find buildings up to 400 years old, along old narrow streets. Along the old harbour, Pollen, the last remain of the old canal system, you can enjoy beer and food on restaurants and bars.

If you would like to see some historic sites, do visit the Trinity Church, built in 1888, at the end of its powerful maritime era. This large neo-gothic church has one of the highest towers in northern Europe (82 mtrs).

Another site is the County museum, The Aust-Agder Museum, is built on the grounds of the historic Langsæ Manor-house and has a large collection of objects from area.

The museum displays the cargo from Fredensborg, the only slave ship ever found, wrecked near Arendal in 1768 with a precious cargo of ivory. From the Gold Coast of Africa 265 black slaves were sent across the Atlantic on the ship; those who survived were sold on the Danish-Norwegian colonial island of St.Croix in the Caribbean. On her way home to Copenhagen the "Fredensborg" was wrecked just outside Arendal. The wreck of the slaver was found in 1974 by divers from Arendal. This exhibition has text in English as well as Norwegian.

Another interesting historic site is Merdøgaard, an authentic captains home, with an interior preserved from the mid 18th Century. It shows the wealth of the local captains, travelling to the Carribean and the Far East bringing home silk, spices, and china. One precious artifact of the house is a 17th Century Ming Bowl brought back by one of the captain. The museum is open only during summer.

Arendal is not only a historic city but a vibrant modern city. Visit the new Culture House, an impressiv piece of contemporary architecture. A modern concert hall, it also house the city administration.

How to get there?

- By plane:
The closest airport, Kjevik Airport (Kristiansand, distance 45 miles).
Scandinavian airlines operates daily services to Kastrup intl. airport (Copenhagen) and Gardermoen intl airport (Oslo). SAS has also service to Spain (Alicante), once a week.
Norwegian Air Shuttle opens daily services to London Stanstead, from November 2nd.
KLM Dutch Airlines operates one daily service to Amsterdam, Schiphol

By train:
- The Norwegian Railway provides daily services from Stavanger and Oslo

By boat:
Colorline operates a daily service to Hirtshals from Kristiansand (45 miles further south)

By express-bus
Nor-way bussekspress operates daily services from Oslo
Konkurrenten operates daily services from Oslo(Norwegian website only)
Lavprisekspressen operates daily services from Oslo (Norwegian website only)

Where to stay?
Clarion Collection Hotel Tyholmen
Arendal Maritime Hotel
Thon Hotel Arendal
Thon Hotel Breidablikk

Where to eat?
Restaurant 1711. (Monday - Saturday 6PM -10.30PM) Gourmet restaurant serving exclusive meat and fish dishes
Poppes Bar and Restaurant (Norwegian only) (Tuesday to Thursday 11AM to 12AM, Friday and Saturday 11AM to 2.30 AM. Sunday and Monday closed) A nice lunch menu (Pastas, sandwiches etc.) Smaller dinner menu (Meat and fish)
Cafe Lindvedske Hus (Monday to Saturday 11 AM, Sunday 1 PM - 2 AM). Sandwiches, pastas, salads.
Fiskebrygga kafé og bar. By the fish market. Mainly open sandwiches, soups, etc.

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