Historic wooden buildings
Egersund town has one of the best preserved wooden housing settlements in Norway. Large parts of the town area are now zoned as a special antiquarian preservation area. Strandgaten was formerly the city’s main street. It came into being after a zoning regulation in 1843 when a large fire left the entire settlement in ashes. During the reconstruction, the outer districts got straight streets in a uniform grid pattern. A town worthy of preservation with wooden houses dating back hundreds of years in time. Everyone is encouraged to take a city walk in Egersund, whether you live here or not. Here we find more history than we can imagine. From Egersund Church, which has its history from far back in the Viking era, to the Egersund Porcelain Factory. Let us not forget the row of seahouses that can not be negatively affected by high or low tide, mostly because we do not have tides in the harbor.
Download the app for Magma Geopark and get many tour descriptions and audiovisual description of city walks in Egersund. These may be found in both English and Norwegian. These are free and available in Appstore and Googleplay.
You can also find a guide and suggestions for city walking on your own here.
City Walk 1
STOPP 1 – TOURIST INFORMATION
Egersund town with its approx. 11,000 inhabitants is the natural center both in the municipality of Eigersund (approx.15,000 inhabitants) and the Dalane region, which also consists of the municipalities Bjerkreim, Lund and Sokndal. The name Eigersund comes from the Old Norse name for the sound between the island Eigerøy and the mainland: Eikundarsund (Eikund means the island that has many oaks).
Fishing has always meant a lot for the population of the city and the coastal district. The shipping industry was also important in the past, but it disappeared along with sailing ships. Today it is trade and service that characterize Egersund city center, while industrial and craft enterprises are located in areas around the city.
STOPP 2 – EGERSUND FAYANCE (POTTERY) MUSEUM
The clay at Eigerøy was the basis for the large faience (glazed earthenware pottery) industry in Egersund. The factory Egersunds Potteri, established by Johan Feyer in 1847, was in operation for 132 years. Many fine examples of the production are displayed at Egersund Fayancemuseum, which is located in the center of the city – in the same place where the old factory was located. In addition to exhibitions and installations related to the industry’s history, the museum offers a variety of special events.
STOPP 3 – MAGMA GEOPARK AND THE DAIRY
The dairy in Elvegaten was the second dairy in Egersund after the old dairy in Johan Feyers gate had too little capacity. The dairy was completed in 1929, with 185 shareholders and about 900 cows. In 1956, production was expanded, and by the end of the 1990s only finished bottled milk was distributed until 1997 when the dairy was shut down.
Crown Princess Mette Marit has roots from here; her mother was born and lived by the old dairy. Her grandfather was dairy manager. Today, the offices of Magma Geopark are located in the old building of Egersund Dairy. Information is available in Magma Geopark’s premises and the tourist information as well as their websites and app.
STOPP 4 – ELVEGATEN
Egersund with its closely built wooden houses and with its past use of open fireplaces has been subject to 6 larger and smaller city fires in the years 1817, 1843, 1859, 1862 and 1961. Three of these fires inflicted such extensive damage to the city that physical changes were subsequently made to the design of the city to prevent similar events from occurring again. Through new zoning plans in 1843, 1859 and 1962, focus was placed on easier traffic and improved fire safety.
Until the 1900s, the wooden buildings were colorful and only a few of the houses were painted white. Until cheaper zinc-based paint came on the market, lead-based white was the most expensive color and was used by the rich and affluent. When the white color became cheap, it became a color everyone wanted. However, Egersund was characterized by industry from the 1840s and the smoke from the factory laid a soot coating on white painted houses. Because of the pottery factory, Egersund was never a white city, but retained its varied and exciting color scheme.
STOPP 5 – LERVIKA
From Lerviksbakken we come down to Lervik where several boathouses show where the shoreline was in the old days. Today the square in front of the boathouses is officially known as Nytorget. From here we go along one of the boathouses up to Storgaten.
STOPP 6 – GRISETORGET (THE PIG MARKET) AND HAUEN
In ending, we will go through Haugen, Egersund’s «medieval town». Although the buildings here over the years have certainly undergone continual changes, the lots are the same as when the area was developed, probably in the period 1750-1800. Haugen has grown up by itself, developed according to need and use, not according to a city plan. Here there were homes, outbuildings, workshops, hay barns and cow barns in perfect harmony. The area was seriously threatened by demolition in the late 70s, but now appears in rehabilitated form with businesses, pubs, etc.
STOPP 7 – EGERSUND CHURCH
There has been a church in Egersund already in early Christian times. In the Middle Ages there were two churches here, St. Maria Church and St. Laurenti Chapel. St. Maria Church probably stood in the same place as Egersund Church. This has always been a sacred place. Here there was a pier already in the Viking era, and here stood the king’s tax building where taxes and fees were paid and where the Viking ship lay that was assigned to coastal defense.
The church is the city’s oldest remaining building – it has been shown that parts of it are from the 1620s. It got its present appearance in 1785-88, after extensive construction work had been completed. Inside it has been changed several times since then, including the balconies that were built as the population increased. In 1888 it was Rogaland’s second largest church with 1160 seats.
City Walk 2
City Walk 2 has 9 fine stops in the town.
STOPP 8 – STRANDGATEN
From the church the walk goes out Strandgaten with its closely-built and varied buildings. Strandgaten was previously the town’s main street. It came into being after a zoning plan made in 1843. In that year, there was a great fire that left in ashes all the buildings from the area near the church and beyond along the shore. ⅔ of the city was lost with a total of 92 residential buildings in addition to seahouses and stalls.
During the reconstruction, the burned area was zoned according to Renaissance city principles, and the city received a modern urban plan following a grid model, with straight streets in a uniform checkerboard pattern. Towards the sea lay the merchants’ and shipowners’ properties, while sailors, craftsmen, etc., resided on the slope on the opposite side of the street.
STOPP 9 – SKRIVERBRYGGA
We can then take a side trip down to Skriverbrygga and get an overview of Egersund’s inner harbor. The city’s façade towards the sea clearly reflects the importance that fishing and shipping have had. Here we still find boathouses built during the rich herring fisheries of the 19th century, and we find a trading company that was established to serve the shipping industry.
The city attaches great importance to retaining this historic identity, and we strive to give new buildings in this environment the shape and dimensions traditions require. On the other side of Vågen are fish processing companies and other businesses.
STOPP 10 – FEYLINGSBUA
From Skriverbrygga we continue out along Strandgaten. On the left side, at number 49, we see the building that until 1987 was the municipality’s administrative building. A little further along, at the corner with Brattegate, we find at number 48 the location of the Feylingsbua Foundation – a location that provides an authentic picture of a seaside residence from the last century and which has now been developed as a coastal culture center.
STOPP 11 – STRANDGATEN 43
On the other side of the street is the town’s only protected residential building – Strandgaten 43. Strandgaten 41 and 58 are also protected. After admiring this building with its «gossip mirror» – one can sit in the living room and have full view of street life in both directions – and its well-preserved classical entrances, we go up Brattegaten to Nygaten.
STOPP 12 – BILSTADHUSET: NYGATEN 14 (11)
This house, like most others in the area, is also built just after the fire of 1843. What makes this special is that it still stands as it was built, with original siding, windows and roofing. There was a sailmaker’s workshop in the wing of the house along Øvre Bekkegate. This is still intact, and the tools used in the business are also still in place. On the property is also a small hay barn with a cowshed – it was very common in the 19th century that townsfolk kept livestock. The Bilstad House is owned now by Dalane Folkemuseum where tours can be arranged.
STOPP 13 – SKRIVERALLMENINGEN
If we continue in Nygaten towards the city center, we soon come to Skriverallmenningen which got its name because the district magistrate lived by it in the 1840s. Just opposite, we see the old school building. There has been a school here since the building was constructed after the fire, first a primary school and later a secondary school.
Skriverallmenningen has its width and straightness because it was intended to act as a fire break. A useful lesson from the city fire was that there should be a good distance between the buildings in some places, so that one could more easily limit a fire if a catastrophe should occur once again. A row of linden trees have been planted down the middle of the street.
STOPP 14 – PEDER CLAUSENS GATE
We continue up Årstadgaten to Peder Clausens gate. The reason that Egersund also has its Peder Clausens gate is that Peder Clausen Friis was born here in 1545. He is known for his historical-geographical writings and for his translation of Snorre’s Heimskringla saga.
STOP 15 – PRISCILLA PRESLEYS PLASS
A star placed on the ground in the uppermost part of Kirkegaten indicates the Priscilla Presley square. Her grandfather grew up in the white house beside it (look for the blue sign).
STOPP 16 – JOHAN FEYERS GATE
We continue up Årstadgaten to Johan Feyers gate, which like Skriverallmenningen is also zoned as a fire break street.
The street is named after Johan Feyer who founded the Egersund Pottery Factory.
If we look down Johan Feyers gate we will see Storgaten 12, which was restored and put into use as a hotel in 1995. Peder Clausens gate empties into Lerviksbakken, the third fire break street in the town. At the bottom of the hill we see Kjell Grette Christensen’s sculpture «The girl with harmonica».
Fra da til nå
Historien til Egersund er en av Norges eldste og strekker seg tilbake til Steinalderen. Når isen begynte sin tilbaketrekking ble Egersunds landområde, grunnet sin tilknytting til kysten, tidlig fri av isen og dermed beboelig. I tillegg kan en i området innenfor Eigersund kommune finne flere gårder som har blitt datert tilbake til år 400-600 etter Kristus.
Fra steinalderens primitive beboere strekker historien seg til Vikingtiden og Eigersund er blant annet nevnt i Heimskringla. Navnet Eigersund er et av landets eldste stedsnavn og stammer fra en gammel nooøn betegnelse, Eikundasund, sundet mellom eiketrær. Enda mer spennende er historiene rundt Olav den Hellige og hans massive vikingflåte som lå forankret i Egersund havn mellom slag og plyndring rundt i Europa.
Neste gang du tar turen til Egersund og kikker ut over vår intime havn, tenk tilbake 1000 år og forestill deg vikingskip etter vikingskip forankret side ved side. En havn full av liv og røre mens noen av historiens mest fryktinngytende krigere vandret rundt i det som nå er Egersund sentrum.
Med en slik historie er det vel bare naturlig at datidens mektigste mann, Pave Nicolaus IV nevnte Egersund i et avlatsprivilegium datert 5, februar, 1292. En havn for katolikkens lange arm og kristendommens spredning i Norge.
Fra vikingtiden til den industrielle verden har Egersund vært et knutepunkt på verdensbasis. I 1798 fikk Egersund status som ladested, dvs. tillatelse til å drive med egen handel og import, og dermed også bystatus. Etter statusskiftet tok det 49 år før det som ble den verdenskjente A/S Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co startet produksjonen av steintøy i 1847.
Fra verdenskjent fayance til Norges største fiskerihavn (målt i kvantum ilandført fisk) har byen og kommunen vokst i størrelse, men forblitt personlig og full av karakter.
I dag tilbyr byen et sentrum fullt av mennesker, store og små. I tillegg til en enestående og uforglemmelig handelsstand som serverer alt en kan tenke seg av varer og tjenester. Egersund er den store lille byen som har alt.