"The Paris of the North"
The history of Tromsø
Archaeological finds show settlement in Tromsø dating back 9000 years.
In 1252, Håkon Håkonsson built the first church in Tromsø, which was on the island of Tromsøya and at the time was the world’s northernmost church.
In 1789, the Bergen trade monopoly was abolished and the people of Northern Norway could trade with whomever they wished. In 1794, despite having a permanent population of just 80, Tromsø was issued its city charter, signed by Christian VII. Traders then moved here from near and far.
The locals of Tromsø have always been quick to follow international fashion and trends, such that a German traveller who visited the city at the turn of the century was clearly impressed over the town and its trendy women. ”This must be the Paris of the North!” he said, adding another nickname to Tromsø’s list. The first boat left here for the Arctic in 1820, and from 1850 Tromsø was Norway’s leading Arctic city. The Arctic hunting became an important industry for Tromsø. Visitors to Tromsø in the 19th century were often extremely surprised with the city’s growth, language skills and culture. In addition to Tromsø being called the “Paris of the North”, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson reported to his Karoline that "here it’s just champagne and spectacle". Several Arctic expeditions have departed from Tromsø. Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile and Fridtjof Nansen often visited Tromsø in connection with their expeditions. The city was also referred to as the ”Gateway to the Arctic”, a name which is well known and often used to describe Tromsø given that the majority of polar expeditions started in Tromsø and Arctic hunting is part of the city’s history.
Facts about Tromsø today
Tromsø is a popular meeting place and has developed into a modern city municipality with a colourful and energetic population from all over the country, as well as from more than 100 countries around the globe.
Tromsø is accessible by air, car, bus and boat and is situated at nearly 70 °N.
Tromsø is Norway’s third largest city municipality by land area. The Municipality of Tromsø covers 2558 km², of which 1434 km² is on the mainland and 1124 km² on islands. The municipality’s total coastline measures 1275 km. The municipality has a population of approx. 65,000 (2008).
The island of Tromsøya is connected with the mainland by the 1016 m long Tromsø Bridge and the approximately 3.5 km long tunnel under the Tromsøsundet, while it is connected to the island of Kvaløya by the 1220 m long Sandnessund Bridge, near the city’s airport.
Tromsø is home to the world’s northernmost university (the University of Tromsø) and brewery (Mack). Activities and adventures in Tromsø cover a wide spectrum – from mountain climbing in the Midnight Sun, fishing trips to the fjord or lakes, downhill skiing beneath the spectacular Northern Lights and dog sledding trips to several ”world’s northernmost” activities such as visiting the brewery’s pub or an outdoors restaurant!