homeaboutvarioustop destinationseventsdead or alive, famous norwegianstream, feed




Tønsberg in Norway Tønsberg municipality coat of arms


106,5 km2

Tønsberg Local Directory

Accommodation, Businesses and more pictures from Tønsberg

Tønsberg, founded in the Viking-Ages, is Norway´s oldest town (celebrating it´s 1125-year jubilee in 1996). The world renowned Oseberg ship which was found just north of Tønsberg centre bears proof of this. In the Middle Ages Tønsberg was one of the centres of power. Tunsberghus, the churches and monasteries and the Earldom of Jarlsberg, have influenced Tønsberg which was, until 1671, Vestfold´s only town. As well as being a commercial and shipping town since the Viking ages, Tønsberg renowned as a Hansa town and also as a whaling town.

Tønsberg is Vestfold´s county town and commercial centre. It is also the seat for Tunsberg bishoprie which was founded in 1848 and which covers the the counties Vestfold and Buskerud. Tønsberg´s municipality area is 106,5 km2 and have approximately 41.000 inhabitants. There is a large variety of shops, an active cultural life and exellent possibilities for sport and recreation. Since 1990 the town has been involved in the project "Cycle Town Tønsberg - Nøtterøy". As well as this the town is working towards beeing a modern ecological town.

Perhaps the most important landmark in the town is Castle Hill (Slottsfjellet), the tower standing on the hill. It was erected in 1888 as a memorial to Tønsberg Fortress, of which just fragmentary ruins remain today, and Haugar Art Museum (Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum) - located in the former Seamen´s School in the middle of Tønsberg. The museum was established in 1993 as a foundation created by Vestfold county and municipality of Tønsberg. The museum is a division in Vestfold County Museum Authority. Haugar Vestfold Art Museum is located in the parkland between the site of the ancient assembly of Haugating and the two Viking era mounds.


The Ouayside and the old warehouses were restored in 1978-80. After having been forgotten for many years, this area has now become the most popular place for a summer promenade, shopping in excluslve shops or a visit to the summer shows. There are restaurants, marina, benches, flower barrels and crowds of people, all in maritime surroundings.


Castle Hill a 63 metres high cliff with steep sides dominates the town. Castle Hill was besieged by King Sverre in 1201 - 1202, the longest in Norway´s history. His grandson Håkon Håkonsson was the sole king in Norway 1217-63. Seen in a European connection, he is Norway´s most famous king during the Middle Ages. Håkon Håkonsson built CASTRUM TUNSBERGIS, Norway's largest medieval castle with ring-walls, watch towers, castles and king's hall (Bredestuen).

He was also responsible for excavation of the canal, Skjeljasteinsundet, so that it again became navigable for larger ships. He built his court at the foot of Castle Hill, and instigated the foundation of a Franciscan monastery in the middle town and a hospital at Gunnarsbø. His daughter, Princess Kristina, travelled from here to marry a Spanish prince in 1257. Her sarcophagus is the church in Covarrubias, Spain.


It was Norway´s longest railway tunnel when the Count´s railway line was opened in 1881. Today it is the main road into Tønsberg centre and to the islands of Nøtterøy and Tjøme.


Idyllic residential areas with protected houses. Nordbyen is Tønsberg´s oldest unbroken row of houses. "Bentegården", dated 1725 - 1775 is one of Tønsberg´s oldest houses and is protected. Old Hotel Klubben, in Storgaten was built by architect Vincent Stoltenberg Lerche. The Ballroom,in brick is from 1914.


The Tønsberg and Nøtterøy Library building, which was awarded a Norweglan and a French / English prize for steel construction, and a Scandinavian prize in 1993, represents modern architecture. There were 113 architects who took part in Norway´s largest architectural competition.


The only bridge connection with Nøtterøy and further to Tjøme. Folding bridge since 1957. King Håkon Håkonsson was one of those who dug out the canal, so that larger ships could pass through. Height 3.30 metres at normal water level. Opening times 15th April to 15th September daily 9.05 am, 12.05 pm, 2.05 pm, 6.05 pm and 8.05 pm.


Bell Tower at Torgers lsland, is a fog bell-tower dated 1910. Restored in 1992. The bell, which weighs 780 kg, was cast in Horten in 1887.


Tønsberg Barrel is a sea-mark, 37 metres above sea level, on Østerøya at the approach to the Tønsberg Fjord.


Prince Christians Battery, on the tip of Vallø, protected Norway´s only saltworks in 1808-14. The Battery together with cannons and cannonball oven was restored 1986-89. Guidet tour from 30.6.- 25.8. every Sunday starting at 12 noon.


In this saga on King Harald Hårfagre, Snorre Sturlason writes that the town of Tønsberg was in existence before the battle of Hafrsfjord, which is dated 872. It is becouse of this that the town's 1000 years jubilee was celebrated in 1871, and 1100 years jubilee in 1971. The archaeological excavations underneath the premonstratensis monastery ruins in 1987-88 revealed several Viking graves which have confirmed the age of the town. Nature itself made perfect conditions for a settlement here at the narrow sound between Nøtterøy and the mainland.

The king or his ombudsman resided in the old court Sæheimr, today Jarlsberg Hovedgård, and on the farm Haugar, which can be assumed to be Tønsberg´s birthplace. Haugar became the seat for "Haugating", "Ting" for Vestfold and Norway's second most important place for the proclamation of kings. The place has probably been named after the two hills, king's graves which tradition binds to King Olav, who was king in Vestfold, and King Sigrød who was king in Trøndelag.

Both are presumed to have fallen in battle on Haugar against their brother Eirik Blodøks and to be buried on the same spot. Yet another of the son´s of Harald Hårfagre is presumed to be buried in Tønsberg, Bjørn Farman. Farmannshaugen lies in a field south-west of Jarlsberg Hovedgård.

Vestfolds royal family stems from the Ynlingætten, which dominated in the 9th century. The big grave mounds in Borre National Park (Horten) and the finds of Gokstad ship and Oseberg ship, prove that this branch of the royal family lived in luxurious conditions. When he devided his kingdom, King Harald Hårfagre appointed his son Bjørn to rule in Vestfold. King Bjørn Farman spent most of his time in Tønsberg, residing at the court at Sæheimr. It is said that he traded with many countries, and to a great extent has influenced the growth of the town. Tønsberg was always a kings town, sometimes carrying out the functions of the capital.


Tønsberg district´s prosperity increased in the 1850´s because of good international market trends for shipping. On top of this a new industry began to create income for the town. In 1847 Svend Foyn sent the sealcatcher "Haabet" to the Arctic Ocean, more ships followed afterwards and this eventually proved to be highly rewarding. In the 1860´s Svend Foyn thought that the competition for seals was getting hard, and he began to look around for alternatives.

In 1863 he had the world´s first steam-driven whaling boat "Spes & Fides" built. There was a grenade harpoon mounted in the bows. He received the patent for this in 1870, and in turn this meant that he had monopoly for the "strong whales" (blue whale, fin whale and sei whale) for the following 10 years. By the time that his patent expired there were new whale hunting companies established, especially in Tønsberg but also in Sandefjord. In Vadsø, Foyn had built his first plant for the processing of the catch.


Tønsberg is the site of Oseberghaugen, a Viking era burial mound. The Oseberg ship was found in the Oseberg burial mound in 1904. This Viking era longship is now in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Archaeological excavations in 1904 uncovered history´s largest and richest example of craftmanship from the Viking Age. In addition to the Oseberg ship, Oseberghaugen contained the Oseberg carriage, five beautifully carved bed-posts shaped like animal heads, four sledges, beds, chests, weaving-frames, household utensils and much more. Scientific examinations in 1992 now date the burial to 834 AD, and indicate a probability that it was Queen Alvhild, the first wife of King Gudrød, who was buried here.


At Teie Submarine Station. The Coast Culture Centre includes the quayside, vessels worthy of preservation, slip, shipyard for the restoration of vessels, smithy and foundry, motor repair yard, sail maker´s workshop and rigging workshop. The Coast Culture Centre is also the home port for the Arctic sailing ship "Havnøy".


At Teie Submarine Station. The exhibition "The People of Vestfold during the 1940-1945 War" is open 8th May - middle Oct. Thursdays 6 pm - 9 pm. Sat - Sun 12 noon - 3 pm. Free admission. Groups may book all year.


Tønsberg Maritime Club Ships Photo Gallery and whaling exhibition at Hotell Maritim is open the second and fourth Satunday in Sept. - June 11 am 2 pm. In july-Aug. the gallery can be visited by appointment. About 400 pictures of the merchant fleet of Tønsberg and the whaling fleet of Vestfold. Exhibition on Svend Foyn, shipowners in Vesffold, ship models.


Restored elementary school from 1864. Viewing by appointment.


The ruins of Scandinavias largest round stone church were found in Tønsberg. Across the road, excavations in 1987 - 91 reveaIed Viking graves and part of the ruins of the Premonstratensian´s Monastery which have now been restored and are part of the historical exhibition in Tønsberg library.


The Saga´s Royal Court at Sæheimr, residence of the Jarlsberg family since 1671. In 1821 the nobility was abolished in Norway, but the last Count of Jarlsberg did not die until 1893. The mansion, dating from 1699, was protected in 1939. The existing buildings received their present Empire look in 1812-14. The Jarlsberg Estate is today the home for the Wedel Jarlsberg family. It is the country's largest farm with about 750 acres cultivated land. The mansion is private property and is not open to the public.


The Britannia House is situated amongst the warehouses, was moved across Nedre Langgate and re-erected in 1978-82 as two separate buildings. The timber building from the baroque period about 1700, and the outer shell of an impressive Louis XVI house, the entrance of which is protected. The house is also known as the previous Hotel Britannia. Beside the house is the old horse trough which used to be in use at Farmanns Market.


Kockegården in Tollbodgaten, dated 1790, protected 1924. Here Wilh. Wilhelmsen had his first shlpplng offlce.


Kossegarden, is a merchant's house dated 1800, built possibly above the ruins of the Royal Court. King Oscar II spent the nlght here when the railway line was opened in Tønsberg in 1881. The house is haunted by the two ghosts Jockum and Gribenille. It was protected in 1924.


Tele Manor, on the Nøtterøy side of the canal. A patrician house built 1803 by Mathias Foyn. One of the country's finest empire style brick buildings Protected. Ruins have been found of a medieval chapel which had connections to the summer residence of the Oslo bishops. In 1918 the submarine base for the Royal Norwegian Navy was here. Since the end of the war the building has been owned by Tønsberg Municipality. Groups can make reservetions for guided tours.


One of the few brick buildings from 1827. Protected in 1920. A beautiful royal crown decorates the entrance. In the Middle Ages there were several brick buildings in Tønsberg, but after the Church of Our Lady was demolished in 1814 there were only two such buildings left in the town, Tele Manor and the Customs House.


Svend and Lena Foyn's house, in Storgaten is a protected house. Built in 1700. Svend Foyn's complete townhouse complex, on Nedre Langgt is a shipowner's house from 1750, and Svend Foyn´s childhood home, protected in 1924. It is the only complete house of its style from the 1700's in the town.

Svend Foyn´s Worker´s homes, restored and protected flats for workers built 1857 - 70. In 1865 there were 73 flats and 303 residents. There was a library, prayer room and the country´s first kindergarden. Svend Foyn was not only a man before his time in the modern whaIing industry, but also as regards social conditions. Svend and Lena Foyn's Memorial, a home for elderly ladies founded by Lena Foyn in 1896. Since 1983 the building has been used for business purposes. Svend Foyn's Chapel, was consecrated 5th November, 1876. There was seating for 500 people and at the time it was Norway's largest and most beautiful chapel.


Gunnarsbø has the feeling of the sagas about it. A powerful clan lived here in the Viking Ages. In the Middle Ages St. Stephans hospital, founded by King Håkon Håkonsson, lay here. The area belonged to St. Olav´s Church. In 1878, the shipowner Wilh. Wilhelmsen built his private residence here, a magnificent villa in the style of New Italian Renaissance. Willie Wilhelmsen and Halfdan´s family gave the building to Tønsberg Muncipality. At the southern end of the park there is a fountain with a monument of Wilh. Wilhelmsen, which was enected in connection with the shipping company's 100 years' jubilee in 1961. The building has been in use as Town Hall. Today Tønsberg Art Society is located here. Vestfold County Administration offices, built in 1960 and extended in 1993, are also in the Gunnarsbø Park.


Ilene Nabrre Reserve was started in 19B1 and is a so-called "Ramsar" area, 90 hectare. This mud-flats area is worthy of protection and of great importance for birds as a rest and feeding ground during spring and autumn emigration. 236 different sorts of birds have been observed here. Nature trail. Birdwatching tower.


Gullkronene Nature Reserve was founded in 1980. 27 hectare. Woods with deciduous trees and a varied plant and animal life. Nature trail.


Presterødkilen Nature Reservation was peotected in 1968. 86 hectare. Important mud-flats area with a nomerous of bird life.


Kjelleolla at Kjelle traffic junction is Tønsberg´s only existing water well. In "Codex Tunsbergensis" (town laws from 1276) it is called "Frodakelda" and this name is carved in the stone wall behind the water basin. Before the district was connected to Farris water supply in 1968, many of the local residents came here to collect good coffee water. There are still some who do so today.


Walking trails, nature trails, stoney beach, grass fields. Safety area for the Esso Refinery. Smoking forbidden in the forest.


Frodeåsen was designed as a nature park by Tønsberg Treeplanting Company in 1876. An impressive number of paths and look-out points with benches were built in the 1890's. "Taulowhole" dated 1932 informs us of fhe town's water supply problems. Information Board.


The forests Byskogen and Greveskogen gives you walking and cycle paths in the forests. Rakkås nature trail. Trout pond. Information board.


The church is built on the site of the old St. Lavrans Church. It was consecrated in 1858 and became the cathedral when the Tunsberg Bishopric, which covers the counties of Vestfold and Buskerud, was founded in 1948. Rebuilt by anchitect Arneberg in 1939. The pulpit (1621) originates from the Church of Our Lady as does the altar piece (1764). High Mass, Sundays, 11 am.

Beside Tønsberg Cathedral in remembrance of those who fell in the 1940 - 45 war. Sculpture "Mother and Child" by Gustav Vigeland. Fountain and glass mozaic by Per Vigeland.


The oldest stone church in Vestfold dated before 1100 in Romanesque style. Presumably there was a wooden church here at Sæheimr, the kings' court, in the beginning of the 11th century. Medieval crucifix, wooden Madonna sculpture, pulpit from 1591. A reconstructed altar piece from the period of Christian IV with a modern painting by Håkon Stenstadvold. Painting by Chr. Eckersberg "Women at the Grave of Christ", dated 1814. High mass three Sundays each month at 11 am.

Burial vault for the Wedel Jarlsberg family adjacent to the church. The statesman Herman Wedel Jarlsberg and his wife Karen, daughter of Peder Anker of Bogstad, rest here amongst others. The most well-known example of "Proof of Fire" in Norway was carried out in Tønsberg. In the year 1129, Harald Gille walked bare-foot over red-hot irons in Sem Church, in order to prove that he was the brother of King Sigurd Jorsalfar. This was the beginning of the civil war which lasted for more than 100 years.

It was either in St. Olav´s Church that Erling Steinvegg, in 1204, carried red-hot iron in order to prove at he was the son of King Magnus Erlingsson. The sagas tell us that King Valdemar ll of Denmark was present together with a fleet of 300 ships. The following day Erling was proclaimed king. The Bagler party were victors in Viken, and Tønsberg was their centre. King Erling Steinvegg died in 1207 and was buried in St. Olav's Church in Storgaten.


Eik Church was built as a working church in 1988. Architect, Harald Hille. The altar piece is by the artist Per Odd Aarrestad.


Solvang Church is from 1969, extended in 1988. Architect Elisabeth Breen Fidjestøl. Stained glass painting in the form of a cross by Hans Gemard Sørensen.


Vestfold's only catholic church. Brick church from 1958. High mass Sundays 11 am.


Brick church with two steeples built in 1901. The organ is from 1972, has 32 pipes and is considered to be the finest concert organ in the district. The former medieval church burned in 1898. Slagen´s oldest preserved altar piece, a unique, magnificent, late medieval triptych from about 1480 with twelve carvings depicting St.Ursula's journey to Rome, was saved. It is now in the University Museum of Antiquities in Oslo. The painter, Sven Jørgensen, one of Vestfold's better known artists, is buried here in Slagen Church cemetery. Church Service every Sunday 11 am.


The cathedral in the woods. Stone church built in 1972. Architect Arnstein Arneberg. The altar piece is an 8 x 4 m huge tapestry by Else-Marie Jakobsen. Church Service every Sunday 11 am.


Built in 1947 of local red syenite. The pulpit and the altar piece are carved by Karl G. Nilsen, Slagen.


Wooden chunch built 1782 for the Vallø salt-works. The church has a gallery with a royal chair. Both the building and the interior are in Louis XVI style. Everything is from the 1780's. At Vallø Church there is a memorial for 52 civilians who died when the allies bombed Vallø, 25th April, 1945. The bronze figure is by the sculptor Carl E. Paulsen and shows a mother trying to protect her child.


Quayside Chapel was opened by the Church Town Mission in 1995 in Svend Foyn's warehouse. Open 24. June - August, every day 5-10 pm. Evening service Thursdays at 8 pm. Prayer every evening at 8 pm.


The choice of different activities in Norway such as, skiing, bikeing, cruising, fishing, stave churching etc.


Fishing possibilities are good in the Tønsberg Fjord and Oslofjord.


Vestfold Golfclub have 18 holes. Eventyrskogen is a 9 hole traningcourt. Nice clubhouse with a good view over the 9th and 18th green. Vestfold Golfclub a champion course with fasy greens. Big drivingrange and a good ProShop.