is a town and municipality in Vestfold county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Tønsberg.
The town of Tønsberg was established as a municipality on 1 January
1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt
). The rural municipality
of Sem was merged into the municipality of Tønsberg on 1
The population of the entire urban area
regardless of municipality borders, and following the guidelines
set by Statistics Norway
46,862 as of 1 January 2008, making Tønsberg the tenth
most populous urban
areas in Norway. Tønsberg is generally regarded as the oldest town
The Old Norse
form of the name was
. The first element is the genitive case
), meaning fenced area
. The last element is berg
. The name originally
referred to the fortifications on Slottsfjellet.
The old spelling has been retained in the
name of the diocese
is an old city seal
from as far back as 1349. The seal shows Tønsberg Fortress
surrounded by a ring wall on a mountain with the sea in front.
There is also a longship
in the water in
front of the fortress. Around the seal are the words (in Latin):
This is the seal of Tunsberg.
to Snorri Sturluson, Tønsberg was
founded before the Battle of Hafrsfjord, which, according to Snorri, took place in
What year the battle took place is disputed, however,
and most current historians believe the battle took place closer to
900. However, if the battle did in fact take place in 871, this
would make Tønsberg the oldest present Scandinavian
town. However, archeological
excavation seem to show that Tønsberg is established in the last
part of the 11th century. The first time the town is mentioned by a
contemporary writer is in year 1130.
Slottsfjellet ( ), north of the city centre, makes for a near
impregnable natural fortress. During the civil war era
of the 12th century,
it was fortified by the Baglers
besieged it for 20 weeks in
the winter of 1201 before the Baglers
surrendered. In the 13th century, King Haakon Haakonson set up a castle in
The town was destroyed by fire in 1536, but
Tønsberg remained one of the most important harbour towns in
German occupation of Norway in
World War II, the Berg
concentration camp was constructed near Tønsberg. In 1948, Tønsberg
became the cathedral city of the
Diocese of Tunsberg
(Tunsberg bispedømme), created when the counties of
Buskerud and Vestfold were separated from the Diocese of Oslo.
Øvre Langgate street (Tønsberg)
Tønsberg is still an industrial and maritime centre, with such
diverse concerns as metal shops, shipyards
, leather processing
, and breweries
. It is noted especially for its silverware
Tourist sites include ruins of the Tønsberghus, St. Michael's
Church, the Royal Castle, Sem Church, and the Vestfold Museum.
Tønsberg is also the site of Oseberghaugen, the location of a
Viking era grave site (haugen from the Old Norse Word
meaning mound). The Oseberg
ship was found near the city in 1904. The longship is now in the Viking Ship
Museum in Oslo.
Perhaps the most important landmark in the town is the tower
standing on the hill. It was erected in 1888 as a memorial to the
old fortress, of which just fragmentary ruins remain today. Several
streets in the town are named after old kings of Norway.
is served by the railway line Vestfoldbanen, which runs in a loop through
the city before reaching Tønsberg Station.
As of 1 January 2009, the population of Tønsberg municipality was
38,914. The population of the urban area, Norway's tenth most
populous, was 46,091. 30,061 lived in Tønsberg municipality, while
16,030 lived in Nøtterøy municipality. The urban area
extends from Eik in the north, to
Tolvsrød, Vallø and Ringshaug in the east
and Borgheim on Nøtterøy in the
south. Tønsberg municipality contains four
additional urban areas: Sem, with 2,147
inhabitants of which 2,100 live in Tønsberg and 47 live in Stokke; Barkåker, with 1,292 inhabitants; Åsgårdstrand, with 2,847 inhabitants of which 2,794 in Horten and 53 in
Tønsberg; and Vear, with a population of 3,502
of which 2,263 live in Stokke and 1,239 live in
- Hjalmar Andersen, three time
European (1950-1952) and World champion (1950-1952) as well as
1952 Winter Olympics champion
- Anders Aukland, the six-time
winner of the world championship in cross-country skiing, was born in the
Husvik area in Tønsberg in
- Odd Børretzen, a Norwegian
writer and artist lives outside
- Ronny Johnsen, professional
footballer (Manchester United), lives in Tønsberg
- Lise Karlsnes, a Norwegian singer
from the band Briskeby
- Lene Nystrøm, singer of
Aqua, was born here.
- Marion Raven, a Norwegian singer,
lived outside Tønsberg with her parents
- DJ Ravi is born and raised
in the town.
- Seigmen, a Norwegian alternative rock
band, comes from Tønsberg.
- Jahn Teigen, the lead singer of
Popol Ace , came from
- Tonje Larsen, handball player, is
born and raised here.
Twin towns — Sister cities
The following cities are twinned