Hammerfest (Northern Sami: Hámmerfeasta, Kven: Hammerfästi) is a municipality and a town in Troms and Finnmark. The municipality borders Måsøy in the northeast, Porsanger in the east, Alta in the south and Hasvik in the west. The city is located at 70.7 degrees north and was for over 200 years until 1996 considered the world's northernmost. In 2009, Hammerfest received trademark protection for "the world's northernmost city". Hammerfest town is located on Kvaløya with a bridge connection to the mainland. Despite its location north of the Arctic Circle, the city has an ice-free harbor. On Melkøya, just outside Hammerfest, is the onshore facility that processes and cools the gas from the Snøhvit field. The facility was launched in the autumn of 2007. In 2005, Hammerfest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List with the northernmost measuring point in Struve's meridian arc.

Hammerfest has a long history of Pomor trade, Arctic fishing, fishing and the fishing industry. Hammerfest town received city rights on 17 July 1789, the same day as Vardø, and these two towns are the oldest in northern Norway. The settlement began already in the period between 1250 and 1350, but traces of people have been found even further back in time. Despite hurricanes and city fires, the city has risen time and time again.


Hammerfest municipality consists of Hammerfest town, Forsøl, Hønseby, Rypefjord, Akkarfjord, Hellefjord, Kårhamn, Skarvfjordhamn and Sandøybotn and Kvalsund. The municipality had 10,509 inhabitants as of 1 January 2019, of which 8,016 of the municipality's inhabitants lived in the town of Hammerfest, 1,855 in the town of Rypefjord and 202 in the town of Forsøl as of 1 January 2020. The rest is distributed between the villages on the islands of Seiland and Sørøya.

Hammerfest town is located on the west side of Kvaløya, towards Sørøysundet, and has a bridge connection to the mainland. The municipality borders Kvalsund in the east, Alta in the south and Hasvik in the west. Despite its location north of the Arctic Circle, the city has an ice-free harbor. Hammerfest also has midnight sun, which can be experienced from 16 May to 27 July.

Hammerfest municipality covers 848.6 km²

The landscape in Hammerfest is characterized by densely populated areas around the city center. Otherwise, the landscape on Kvaløya consists mostly of rounded, forestless mountains.

The highest points in the municipality are Seilandstuva (1078 masl), and Nordmannsjøkelen (985 masl). Both of these mountain peaks are located south of the municipality, on the border with Alta, on the island of Seiland. Closer to the city center, Tyven (418 masl) and Storfjellet (328 masl) are popular hiking destinations.

The bedrock in Hammerfest consists mostly of relatively strongly transformed gneisses from Eocambrian times. On Sørøya and Seiland smaller sections of gabbro and mica slate. A couple of minor finds of coke and iron ore have been made on Sørøya, but these are not of economic significance.

Hammerfest typically has a northern climate in northern Norway, with relatively mild winters and moderate summer weather. Hammerfest often has very large amounts of snow in the winter, and in some cases has been hit by avalanches very close to the city center. Normal values ​​for the period 1961−1990 are given in the table below.

Tombs have been found in Hammerfest, which can be dated back to the Stone Age. In 1684 Hammerfest got its first church and priest. The population was then around 60 people. The town's location made the town an important place for fishing and Arctic fishing, but lost the right to trade at the behest of King Frederik V of Denmark-Norway. This leads to Russia starting to send ships with grain to Hammerfest, the so-called Pomor trade. On July 17, 1789, the city was granted town rights by a royal decree by Christian VII of Denmark-Norway. Hammerfest gets its first doctor in 1792.

The Napoleonic War
During the Napoleonic War, Denmark-Norway was attacked by Britain and forced into the conflict on the side of Napoleon and France. As one of the most important trade and transport centers in Western Finnmark, Hammerfest became a natural target for the Royal Navy blockade. Therefore, the city received four six-kilo cannons from the central cloth house in Trondheim, at the request of local merchants. Then a 50-man coastal defense squad was formed to defend Hammerfest. A number of merchants formed the officer corps for the troop, while naval Sami and Kvens were mobilized as crews and soldiers.

British attack
On July 22, 1809, the expected British attack came with the brigades Snake and Jobb. Before the ships reached Hammerfest, the British vessels had looted Hasvik, and left the fishing village in rubble. The ensuing battle between Hammerfest's two cannon batteries and the British warships with a total of 32 cannons was surprisingly intense and did not end until the Norwegian cannons had run out of gunpowder, after a battle of 90 minutes. Both of the attacking warships were hit by a number of cannonballs and lost at least one man, a sailor who was buried in the local cemetery. During the battle, the city's population had been able to flee with most of the city's assets, but the British warships remained in Hammerfest for eight days. During their stay, the British looted everything they could get their hands on, including the church donation box and some of the church's silver.

After the raid, Hammerfest became a garrison town with regular forces and much better and expanded fortifications. A small flotilla of rowboats armed with cannons operated out of Hammerfest during the rest of the Napoleonic Wars.

About. 1830: The city barely avoids a cholera epidemic.
1839: Hammerfest gets its first employed firefighter.
1852: Hammerfest hospital established in Nedre Grønnevoldsgate.
1859: Finnmark's first lighthouse is built at Fuglenes. The city's first zoning plan is being drawn up.
1868: The city's first waterworks is built.
1870: A telegraph station used by the whole of Finnmark is built.
1886: Roland Bonaparte (1858–1924), 6th Prince of Canino and Musignano, visits Hammerfest during a journey along the Norwegian coast. Bonaparte was part of a scientific expedition that photographed and measured the anatomy of the Sami population in northern Norway.


Struve's meridian arc 1816-1855
in 1845, Norway took part in the survey of the earth's shape and size, which included triangulation points at 265 locations in three countries, Norway, Sweden and Russia (today ten countries). Struve's northernmost point is at the meridian support in Hammerfest. A signal point was built that stands on the mountain Tyven, Håja, Seilandstuva and Gosviktind which served as a sight point to be able to calculate the length of the sides. These were most likely built by locals and most of the cairns are authentic today. This extensive scientific survey work is today inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The city fire in 1890
Hammerfest was hit by a city fire in 1890 which started in the bakery and burned down almost half of the town's houses. After the fire, Hammerfest received donations and humanitarian aid from around the world. The largest single donor was Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. The emperor had personally visited the city several times with his yacht.
During the reconstruction of the city, Haakon Hauan was employed as a functioning city engineer.

1882: St. Vincent's Hospital (Catholic) established in Hammerfest
1890: Two thirds of the city is destroyed by fire
1891: Hammerfest becomes the first city in Norway, and among the first in Europe, with electric street lighting
1910: Norges Bank establishes a branch in Hammerfest
1911: Vestfinmarkens Damskipsselskap formed in Hammerfest (later FFR)
1915: Finmarkens Privatbank, established in Hammerfest (now Dnb)
1926: Hammerfest hospital moves into a new building at Fuglenes
1936: St. Vincent's Hospital moves into a new building
1937: Hammerfest Grave Chapel completed (today the city's oldest building)

Second World War
After the attack on Norway during World War II, the Germans occupied Hammerfest and used it as an important base during the war. Hammerfest's significance for the Germans increased dramatically after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The occupiers installed three coastal batteries in and around Hammerfest, one with four 10.5 cm cannons on Melkøya near the city, one with three 10.5 cm cannons at a height just outside the city and a final battery with casemate 13 cm cannon at Rypklubben in Rypefjord.

The most important German submarine base in Finnmark was located in Hammerfest and served as a central supply base for the ships that attacked the Allied supply convoys to Russia. Luftwaffe's seaplane was based on an impromptu seaplane base in Rypefjord. The garrison in Hammerfest was also protected by around 4,000 landmines and a large number of anti-aircraft guns.

During the long retreat from the Murmansk front, the Germans were no longer able to transport troops by sea further east, due to the attacks of the massive Soviet air force. Thus, in the autumn of 1944, Hammerfest became their most important port in Finnmark.

On February 14, Russian planes dropped explosives and firebombs over the city for the first time, but the damage was small. On 29 August, there was a similar but far more powerful air strike in which a number of buildings and streets in the city center were destroyed, in addition to two ships in the harbor being sunk. The ships that sank were the local freighters Tanahorn and Brynilen.

In the autumn of 1944, the population of Hammerfest was forcibly evacuated by the German occupation forces, after the Murmansk front on the northern part of the eastern front was pushed into eastern Finnmark. The whole of Finnmark, including Hammerfest, was looted and burned to the ground by the Germans when they withdrew in 1945. The last part of the city was destroyed when the Germans finally left the city on February 10, 1945. The only thing left was the city's small funeral chapel, built in 1937. The Reconstruction Museum for Finnmark and North Troms tells the story of how the war hit Hammerfest and how the city was rebuilt after the war. The Soviet forces in East Finnmark were withdrawn in September 1945.

Mines and ammunition from World War II are still found in the Hammerfest area.

After 1945
1954: St. Elisabeth hospital completed
1956: Hammerfest hospital at Fuglenes completed
1965: Horseshoe block, BYBO, completed. 124 apartments
1980: "Ross Rigg" starts exploration drilling on Tromsøflaket. Supply base established in Hammerfest
1992: Sørøysund municipality is merged with Hammerfest municipality after a referendum
2007: The snow white plant on Melkøya is put into operation in September. This is Northern Norway's largest industrial development
2009: Arctic Cultural Center (AKS) officially opens. The building is Hammerfest municipality's new culture house.

Hammerfest was the first to come out with a municipal power plant, a water-powered generator of 65 hp utilized a drop of 44 meters and delivered a voltage of 1000 volts.