Kristiansund (formerly both Christianssund and Fosna or Lille-Fosen) is a town and municipality on Nordmøre in Møre og Romsdal with 24,179 inhabitants. The municipality consists of five larger islands in addition to a number of smaller islands, islets and reefs. Kristiansund is surrounded by sea and fjords: In the northeast, above Trondheimsleia, lies Smøla municipality; east of Talgsjøen lies Aure; southeast of Freifjorden Tingvoll and in the south Gjemnes municipality. West of Bremsnesfjorden is Averøy municipality and to the north, northwest is the Norwegian Sea.

The town of Kristiansund is located on four islands, right out to sea and has 18,210 inhabitants as of 1 January 2020. Here the charging place Lille-Fosen grew in the 17th century and gained official city status in 1742 under the name Christianssund. Prior to the municipal merger with Frei in 2008, Kristiansund municipality was limited to four islands, Kirkelandet, Innlandet, Nordlandet and Gomalandet, which are connected to Kirkelandet.

The good natural harbor and the location by the shipping lane together with the fjords towards the villages on Nordmøre are the background for a town being established right here. Kristiansund grew based on timber exports, fishing and clipfish production, while the business community today is centered around the oil and gas activities at Haltenbanken.


Name and etymology

From the 17th century, the central parts of the city of Kristiansund were a charging station called Lille-Fosen. Fosen or Fosna probably means a place to find shelter or a good harbor. It is assumed that Fosen comes from the Old Norse folksn (hiding place). When the charging station in 1742 gained status as a market town through royal resolution, it was named Christianssund, after the Danish-Norwegian king Christian VI. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Norwegianisation of Danish place names in Norway was advocated, and the city's name was given an alternative spelling: Kristiansund, rather than Christianssund. The spelling Kristiansund was used in the State Calendar from 1877.

The city coat of arms 'motif shows that the name Fosen was not understood in Copenhagen in 1742, and the city coat of arms' motif became a waterfall.

In 1929, a referendum was held on whether the city should take back its old name, Fosna. Of the 4740 votes, only 41 were in favor of the name change. The city council therefore chose to keep the name Kristiansund.



Stone Age and Viking Age
The first find from the Old Stone Age in Norway was made at Voldvatnet on Nordlandet in Kristiansund as early as 1909 by Anders Nummedal. The Fosna culture was named after the town on Nordmøre and dates back to 8000 BC. These outer districts were ice-free at an early age, and there was plenty of food in the sea. People may have lived on the North Sea coast before the end of the ice age. In addition, there was access to flint and other hard rocks. In Kristiansund, it is also better with traces of road people from the Neolithic.

The battle of Rastarkalv is known from Snorre's royal sagas. The battle site from the year 955 is located on the south side of the island of Frei. King Håkon the Good fought against the sons of Eirik who had support from Denmark. There are three monumental stones on Raskarkalv, on the mound behind Frei church, in memory of this battle.

There are 15 meter long mounds on Rastarkalv.

The Middle Ages
Stockfish was an important export product from Norway in the Middle Ages, the breakthrough took place in the 12th century. The fishing village Grip was one of the production sites. The coast off Nordmøre was an important spawning area for cod, and was the natural basis for important fishing in late winter. There is reason to believe that the fishing village at this time had a permanent settlement, and that visiting fishermen from the fjords within were seasonal labor during the most important fishing season. In the Middle Ages, Grip was the only densely populated area in what is today Kristiansund municipality, with the archbishop of Nidaros as the landowner. The Stave Church is an important cultural monument from this time and among other things the altarpiece tells about the trade connections to the Hanseatic cities in northern Germany. But the fishing village had no location that could be developed into a city, and in the 16th century, the profitability of the fisheries became increasingly poor. Now it was the fjord villages that had the most in demand resource, namely forests.

The shipping lane and a good harbor are the basis for the city's existence, and the harbor in Lille-Fosen is known as far back as there are sources. Fosna farm in Vågen is considered to be the cradle of the city, but it is uncertain to what extent there was permanent settlement around the harbor already in the Middle Ages.

The charging station Lille-Fosen
In the 17th century, a small settlement developed by the harbor between the three islands. The growth of the place was especially due to increasing exports of raw materials (especially lumber) to the rest of Europe. It was especially Dutch ships that came to Nordmøre every year. Vågen in Fosna became a permanent mooring and gathering place for vessels that visited the district. Here the state established a customs station (in 1630) to control the timber trade on Nordmøre. From Fosna, it was easy for the customs officers to keep an eye on the trail and most of the vessels that passed. Nordmøre browse customs district in 1606 or earlier. The place was given the status of a charging station under Trondheim, a city with a permit to trade in a limited selection of goods. The 17th century is called the Dutch era in Kristiansund's history. Dutch charts from this time have many names along the fjords on Nordmøre. It was timber the Dutch were interested in. The customs post was primarily established to control the timber trade. The first merchants in Lille-Fosen traded in lumber, stockfish and herring.

In the 1690s, the Dutchman Jappe Ippes brought knowledge about the production of clipfish to Norway. On 11 August 1691 he received a royal letter of privilege which gave him permission to manufacture and export clipfish in the loading place Lille-Fosen and at Tustna. After a few years he had to give up.

In 1733, Lille-Fosen was visited by Christian VI and Queen Sophie. A few years later, despite protests from the merchants in Trondheim and Bergen, he was to give status as a market town and city name to the charging station on Nordmøre.

The market town Christianssund

On June 29, 1742, the charging station was given the status of a market town and a new name, Christianssund, by King Christian VI. The city developed rapidly and became an important city for the fish trade. This attracted foreign merchants to the city, especially British.

The Scotsman John Ramsay was one of those who again took up clipfish production. In the middle of the 18th century, this developed into a large company. The most enterprising of the merchants in Kristiansund gained control of all stages of clipfish production: They bought up the fishing villages and introduced a system called host fishing. They received the catch and were responsible for the production of clipfish, and they were exporters. Klippfisk was at this time unknown in Norwegian cuisine. Clipfish production was labor intensive and required many hands during the dry season in spring and summer. The fish had to be salted and washed before it had to be salted again and alternately dried and pressed on the «fish mountain». Milnbrygga and Milnbergan, right in the center of Kristiansund, are important cultural monuments from this time.

The clipfish was to be exported, and the most prosperous merchants could acquire their own ships. In the years after 1776, the city built up a large fleet with several shipyards and ropeways. Expertise in shipbuilding was obtained from Copenhagen. Further up to 1806, the business community in Kristiansund had an explosive development, where the city was supplied with great wealth.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark-Norway was allied with France. On July 7, 1808, Kristiansund was attacked by English warships, the "Cygnet" and the corvette "Tartar". The attack was repulsed by the city's cannon batteries. Several houses in the city were damaged, and one was killed. An 11 meter high monument was erected to commemorate the battle on the occasion of the centenary of 1908.

The market town sorted under Bremsnes parish in Kvernes to Kristiansund parish was established by royal resolution of 20 August 1827.

Spanish time
The Spanish era is called the period from 1830 onwards in the 19th century when Spanish ships came to Kristiansund to buy clipfish directly from the merchants in Kristiansund. This period was important for the development of the city's business life. It was the Spanish sailors who visited Kristiansund who are given the honor of having introduced bacalao to the city. The originally Danish Christian Johnsen had learned the principles of the clipfish trade in Bilbao, and in 1854 he established himself in Kristiansund after visiting the city several times as an envoy from his Spanish employer Gurtubay. In Kristiansund, he built up a thriving trading business that extended to both Asia and South America as well as to Europe. He also built up a local industrial business that provided jobs for many for decades.

In the middle of the 19th century, clipfish production expanded beyond what the fisheries in Nordmøre, Romsdal and Trøndelag provided with raw material supply. The city's merchants had to invest in the purchase of raw fish in Lofoten and Finnmark to satisfy demand. The city got a large fleet of small sailing vessels, yachts and galleys for this traffic. The market was also expanded, including to America. The town's clipfish merchants made good money and Nicolai H. Knudtzon was considered Norway's richest man at the end of the 19th century.

In 1884, the clipfish industry was hit by an economic crash that hit all companies in the industry hard. The crash was due to a sudden fall in market prices in Spain, with the result that all clipfish exporters, with one exception, went bankrupt.

Name dispute
The name of the town was for a time a contentious issue; It was argued that the old Norwegian Fosna, the city's name as a charging station, should replace Kristiansund, a name the city got in the Danish era. As early as the mid-1890s, the name change was suggested by some in the local newspapers, but the struggle after the First World War became particularly fierce. This is at the same time as many other Norwegian cities and places regained their former Norwegian names. In Kristiansund, the name dispute culminated in 1929 with a people's train in which half the city's population participated and finally a referendum. The result was overwhelming: 4699 (99.1%) voted against the name change, only 41 in favor. The city council reversed the case and the city kept the name it had had since 1742.

In a postal context, the term "Kristiansund N" was used to separate the city from Kristiansand S. Especially handwritten addresses could otherwise easily create problems if a or u was sloppily written. The problem disappeared after the introduction of postcodes.

The city before the war

At the end of the 19th century, Kristiansund was a particularly beautiful town with many large merchant farms and boathouses or piers. The city was nevertheless characterized by the fact that there was no special zoning plan for the construction of buildings. This should prove to be impractical when cars in the 20th century made their entrance into the cityscape.

The town consisted mainly of wooden houses with standing panels. In the first half of the 20th century, several brick houses and larger apartment buildings were built. Among the notable buildings that characterized Kristiansund at that time were Festiviteten, Norges Bank's branch, Grand Hotell and Nordlandet church.

Bombing and wartime
In April 1940, Kristiansund was bombed by German planes. After the bombing, large parts of the city were completely damaged. Around 800 of the city's 1300 buildings were completely or partially destroyed, which corresponds to 28 percent of the country's total war damage to buildings during World War II. About 290,000 m2 of buildings were destroyed (compared to 80,000 m2). During the war, Brente's regulation began planning the rebuilding, but little could still be built in wartime. Most of the inhabitants who had become homeless had to live in barracks until the end of the war.

The German occupation forces also had significant facilities in the municipality, including Kvalvik fort to the east of the island of Frei.

The rebuilding was initiated in 1940 under the auspices of Brente steders regulation and Professor Sverre Pedersen. Pedersen had a sketch zoning plan ready in August 1940 and the final zoning plan from 1941 was adopted after the war without significant changes. Pedersen placed particular emphasis on a new driveway from the harbor. After the war, Kristiansund was rebuilt with a marked reconstruction architecture in a sober functional style. The central parts of Kirkelandet and Nordlandet were completely changed. The old wooden town with a self-grown structure on traffic arteries and property boundaries was replaced by straight streets. Kirkelandet was now dominated by Kaibakken, a wide new street that connects the quays with the upper part of town. The axes of architecture are aimed at magnificent nature motifs such as Freikollen and Jørgenvågsalen in the neighboring municipality of Aure. In central residential areas, some houses were equipped with classic details such as the door portals. In some streets, such as (Vuggaveien), prefabricated houses were sent from Sweden as emergency aid. The erection of Kirkelandet church in 1964 marked the completion of the rebuilding.

By 1950, 68% of the city had been rebuilt, measured in area.

The rebuilding city of Kristiansund has been highlighted as one of the 20th century's most worthy cultural environments in Norway. This is justified by the fact that the city center is one of the best-preserved examples of post-war architecture.

The 1950s were marked by rebuilding and a rich herring fishery in the winters. At this time, the city also had a trawler fleet that provided raw materials for clipfish production.

The municipal boundaries are adjusted
On 1 January 1964, major changes took place in the municipal boundaries in Norway as a result of the work of the Schei Committee. The boundaries were changed as a result of the transition from sea to road communication. In addition, smaller municipalities were merged into larger units. Grip, which was then the country's smallest municipality, was incorporated into Kristiansund. Until now, parts of Nordlandet had been part of the then Bremsnes municipality, but were now transferred to Kristiansund. At the same time, Bolga and Vadsteinsvik on Frei were transferred from Bremsnes to Frei municipality.

The municipalities of Kristiansund and Frei were merged on 1 January 2008 after a referendum. In Kristiansund the result was 95.5% yes votes and 4.5% no votes, and in Frei the result was 1330 yes votes (51.5 &%) and 1252 no votes (48.5%).