Saturday, January 29, 2011

Top 5 interesting facts - Kristiansand

We got a letter in the mail approximately 3 weeks ago. It was an invitation to the city hall in Kristiansand for all the people who moved to Kristiansand for some cake and coffee where all the new citizens could meet each other. I think it was a really nice gesture! The mayor presented his city in a very nice, 'mayorlike' way - he talked business, culture, education... He didn't mention any of the following things. No wonder... mayors don't talk about lead paint and monkeys. Luckily, bloggers do! Enjoy these interesting pieces of information that I've learnt about Kristiansand since I came here 6 months ago!

1. The centre of Kristiansand is called Kvadraturen - a name due to the quadratic structure of the inner town (that can be seen here). The city was founded in 1641, under the Union of Denmark and Norway by king Christian IV. The quadratic structure was a signature city plan of the king. The charm of Kvadraturen in Kristiansand is in a big extent due to the wooden houses painted entirely in white - buildings that characterize several streets of the neighbourhood. However, white has not always been the dominating colour. In the old days, white was the sign of being well-off. Paint was not something everyone could afford so people just tried to paint white at least one side of their house. Houses entirely white only started to be more common after the introduction of the lead-based paint.

White houses in the centre of Kristiansand

2. Kristiansand is the birthtown of the woman that will be the next dronning (queen) of Norway, Mette Marit. She and Crown Prince Haakon (the son of King Harald and Queen Sonja) got married in 2001 and are now a happy (and very popular) family with their children, 7-year-old Ingrid Alexandra (who will be one day the Queen of Norway), 5-year-old Sverre Magnus and 14-year old Marius, a son from Mette Marit's previous relationship.

31 August, 2010 - Mette Marit and Haakon in Grimstad, after the opening ceremony of the new campus of the University of Agder (The first royalties I've seen so far! The photo was taken by my friend Pauline - merci!)

3. Kristiansand (and the Sørlandet region) is traditionally considered to be the most conservative region in the country where people are the most religious in the country, the so-called bible belt (Bibelbeltet) of Norway.

4. Kristiansand is the place in the world with the biggest Beat Art collection outside of the US. The collection is to be seen on the walls of the University of Agder and the Cathedral High School and was donated to the university by Reidar Wennesland, a doctor from Kristiansand who was a personal acquintance to many of the Beat artists. The Beat art was the not main stream art of the US in the 50s, rebelling againt the ideals of the US society of the time. I think having Jay de Feo's two roses on the wall of your classroom is pretty major! :)

One of the pieces of the precious collection - Jay de Feo's The Wise and Foolish Virgins (Kristiansand Cathedral School)

5. The Kristiansand Dyreparken (zoo) with its 650 000 visitors per year is an important tourist attraction for the entire country. The best known inhabitant and mascot of the amusement and animal park is Julius, a male chimpanzee. Abandoned by his parents in his young years, he got to live with a human family and developed different skills - he learnt for example to drive a car and started to make paintings...


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