Stavanger is one of my favorite cities in Norway, not only is it beautiful but it holds a lot of history and is in one of the more mild areas of Norway, in terms of weather. Home to the oldest cathedral in Norway (even older than the one in Trondheim), Stavanger is also the centre of the oil industry in Norway, and it is because of this that Stavanger went from a relatively small 'city' into what is currently the fourth largest in Norway, and growing.
Stavanger considers its date of foundation to be the year that the cathedral, Stavanger Domkirke, was completed, 1125, however has a history of settlement said to date back up to ten thousand years. During these times it functioned as a market town for the surrounding areas.
It wasn't until the late 1800s, after the end of Danish rule, that Stavanger had any real industry, while it was primarily a fishing and boating town, the herring industry provided much for the towns economy. Stavanger experienced great economic downturn during both World Wars (as did much of the world) and remained relatively slow in growth until the late 1960s with the discovery of off shore oil. As a coastal town, the discovery of oil led to great economic growth, both directly in Stavanger and of course all around Norway.
What to see:
One of the reasons I like Stavanger so much is because it has a very intimate town centre - a large lake straight in the middle, the cathedral, large open spaces down to the waterfront and only a short walk to Old Stavanger (Gamle Stavanger) which is a host of well maintained houses from the 1700's and 1800's. The narrow cobbled streets lead through interesting and beautiful shopfronts and stores all around the city, and it has just that perfect mix of old and new.
|Some of the buildings and narrow streets of old Stavanger|
Stavanger is also very conveniently located to some of South Norway's most beautiful fjords and hiking areas, most famously Priekestolen and Lysefjorden, which you can either drive to, or take a boat or ferry. Stavanger is also noted for its nearby sandy beaches (although for some it may be considered a little chilly, even in summer, to be going for a swim).
|A view of Priekestolen over the Lysefjord|
Stavanger is also home to a number of museums, notably the Petroleum Museum, and the city has become one of Norway's popular tourist destinations due to the availability of things to see and do in and around the city.