Stavanger is a city and municipality in Norway. Although the fourth largest city, Stavanger is the third largest urban zone in Norway and the administrative centre of Rogaland county. Located on the Stavanger peninsula in Southwest Norway, Stavanger counts its official founding year as 1125, the year the Stavanger cathedral was completed. Stavanger's core is to a large degree 17th and 18th century wooden houses that are considered part of the city's cultural heritage and these are hence protected. This has caused the town centre and inner city to retain a small-town character, and even after the city's rapid growth in the 1970s onwards, the urbanization of the city center has been limited and a large share of the population still lives in detached houses.
Stavanger fulfilled an urban role prior to its status as city (1125), from around the time the Stavanger bishopric was established in the 1120s. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, England, is said to have started construction of Stavanger Cathedral (Stavanger domkirke) around 1100. It was finished around 1125, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation.
The city's history is a continuous alternation between economic booms and recessions. For long periods of time its most important industries have been shipping, shipbuilding, the fish canning industry and associated subcontractors.
Stavanger and its region, along with Liverpool, United Kingdom, was selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2008. The Stavanger2008 vision is expressed through the concept "Open Port". This can be understood both in its English sense - "an open harbour", - and in its Norwegian meaning of "an open gate". Open Port – Openness towards the world. The region and its people is supposed to be even more open and inclusive towards art, ideas and opportunities.
The Stavanger Region is home to the Gastronomic Institute of Norway, and also Måltidets Hus, the national centre for food-related professions.
- Stavanger Cathedral (Stavanger domkirke) is Norway's oldest cathedral. It is situated in the middle of Stavanger, and is the seat of the Diocese of Stavanger. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. Stavanger was ravaged by fire in 1272, and the Cathedral suffered heavy damage. It was rebuilt under bishop Arne, and the Romanesque Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic style. In 1682, king Christian V decided to move Stavanger's episcopal seat to Kristiansand. However, on Stavanger's 800th anniversary in 1925, king Haakon VII instated Jacob Christian Petersen as Stavanger's first bishop in nearly 250 years. During a renovation in the 1860s, the Cathedral's exterior and interior was considerably altered. The stone walls were plastered, and the Cathedral lost much of its medieval looks. A major restoration led by Gerhard Fischer in 1939-1964 partly reversed those changes. The latest major restoration of the Cathedral was conducted in 1999. Andrew Lawrenceson Smith is famous for his works here.
- Stavanger Museum is a museum of natural and cultural history established in 1877, located in the Norwegian city Stavanger. The museum's collections consist of several departments: the department of zoology, the department for cultural history (which also includes custodianship of the royal residence Ledaal). Departments include the Stavanger Museum of Natural History, Stavanger Maritime Museum, Norwegian Children's Museum, Norwegian Printing Museum, Stavanger School Museum, Stavanger Art Museum, and Norwegian Canning Museum.
- Preikestolen or Prekestolen, also known by the English translations of Preacher's Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, and by the old local name Hyvlatonnå (“the carpenter-plane’s blade”), is a massive cliff 604 metres (1982 feet) above Lysefjorden, opposite the Kjerag plateau, in Forsand, Ryfylke, Norway. The top of the cliff is approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 by 82 feet), almost flat, and is a famous tourist attraction in Norway.
The tourism at the site has been increasing, around 2012, the plateau was each year visited by between 150,000 and 200,000 people who took the 3.8 km (2.4 mi.) hike to Preikestolen, making it one of the most visited natural tourist attractions in Norway.
- The Three Swords (Sverd i Fjell) stand on the edge of Hafrsfjord, 6km from the centre of Stavanger. The monument is a popular backdrop for civil wedding ceremonies. The monument was unveiled by King Olav in 1983 and commemorates the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, after which King Harald Fair Hair united the three districts of Norway into one kingdom.The crowns on the swords represent the different districts which took part in the battle.
- Gamle Stavanger ('Old Stavanger') is an area of the city of Stavanger, and is believed to be Europe's largest collection of wooden buildings. The area includes the Norwegian Canning museum which displays a typical factory from the 1920s. In the years after World War II, a new city plan was created for Stavanger. It included razing most of the old wooden buildings in the city centre, and replacing it with new modern structures in concrete. One single voice spoke up against this plan, and today it is recognized that Gamle Stavanger owes its existence to Einar Hedén, then City Architect of Stavanger. In 1956 the city council voted to conserve part of the old city centre. The area selected for conservation was the one considered the least desirable, consisting of small rundown wooden buildings located on the western side of Vågen. This area has what is considered North Europe's best kept wood houses, from both the 19th and 20th century. Some of the houses are owned by the municipality, but most are privately owned. Over the years the area has changed from seedy to trendy, and today is considered a choice location for the urban-minded with a sense of history. On two occasions Gamle Stavanger has grown, so that it now covers more than 250 buildings.