Mandal – the southernmost city in Norway
Mandal has the most beautiful beaches on the doorstep, something that you don’t necessarily associate with Norway and its mostly rugged landscape. Mandal is also one of the wealthy cities in Norway and this is also evident in the development. The white facades are just an indication of the wealth, especially the magnificent wooden houses around the market square and along the pedestrian area of Mandal are hard to miss.
Mandal – history and modernity
But Mandal shows something that continues to fascinate us in many parts of Norway, even in the remote regions – the modern interpretation of the country and its history. So we can not help but visit the new harbor mile and relax to discover the flair of this southernmost city in Norway in the place where it has become rich.
But from the beginning: Mandal has a river that flows right here into the sea – the Mandalselva. The location on this river is in a way the city’s prosperity. Because on the one hand the Mandalselva has a lot of salmon and on the other hand the wood that was cut in the nearby mountains came here for export.
Already in the 14th century, at that time not under the place name “Vester Risør”, Mandal got the right to trade in salmon. It was actually the start that Mandal developed into a successful port city.
In the 15th century, Mandal was one of the major port cities on the south coast of Norway. Above all, it was the Dutch sailors who headed for Mandal. After all, the Dutch were among the most important seafaring nations.
So the beauty and perspective in South Norway seems to have got around, because over time the seafarers also brought herring fishermen and raftsmen who settled on the south coast of Norway. It is no coincidence that the architecture in the southern cities of Norway is similar to the Dutch architecture. This also includes the white facades, which can be found here more often than anywhere else in Norway. Around 650 houses in the area of the small coastal town of Mandal with its 13,500 inhabitants are under protection.
Conversely, many Norwegians signed on to Dutch ships. During the heyday, around 7,000 Norwegians were estimated to be on Dutch merchant ships, but just as traders, craftsmen, workers and fishermen from Holland settled in Sørlandet, Norwegians emigrated to Holland. The Norwegian emigrants in particular found work on governesses or housekeepers. In Mandal, in turn, shipbuilding became established, above all, wonderful ship masts could be produced from the trees that had just grown from the hinterland.
We are on the route of Nordsjøvegen and we come from Kristiansand, about 45 kilometers away. Shortly before the city gates we discovered a wonderful campsite, right on the Mandalselva, which has shaped Mandal for centuries. The small campsite is as familiar as it is cheap, from here there are some exciting hiking trails.
One of these paths leads up to the mountain with an open hut, in it a piano. Is there a better mood for a city like Mandal? Timber traditionally plays the main role on the farm that runs this campsite. Right across the Mandalselva there are beautiful fishing spots in a fairly romantic setting. The bridge over the Mandalselva to Mandal is within easy reach.
The next day we turn into the city center, the best parking lot is in the mountain. In Mandal, the parking garage was not built, but a mountain was hollowed out. But there is still enough parking space in the city, the season is yet to come.
But parking the car and discovering the small town on foot is actually the best option. Because Mandal invites you to stroll and walk.
We stroll through the narrow streets or along the modern promenade of the Mandalselva without time pressure along the historic center. In the pedestrian zone we discover small shops and a large selection of restaurants. We are right in the middle of it and don’t want to go any further.
The most important sights
But at some point we follow the small steep staircase (children by the hand). At the top of the Uranienborg viewpoint there is a lookout pavilion with a wonderful view of this wonderful coastal town. Up here you can enjoy the sun on a bench with a wonderful view of the city. The cover picture was taken from this vantage point.
Mandal, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. | © mare.photo
If you want to follow the traces of the exciting and eventful history of Mandal, we recommend the Bymuseum. The building with its romantic garden alone is one of the city’s many photo opportunities.
Of course the city has changed, but it has its origins. This is on the water, more precisely at the port. As modern as it is, you can still discover historic buildings and former warehouses on Kleven og Gismerøya. Today, among other things, a modern naval shipyard.
Mandal is characterized by historical and modern architecture. And so, in the city center, the modern concrete bridge over the Mandalselva shapes the flair along the Mandalselva with floating art. On the opposite side, Buen Kulturhus awaits with its clear lines, the harmoniously curved facade and the green, curving roof.
Just outside is the Mandal Kirke, an architectural peculiarity, also with a very exciting history. We have dedicated the Mandal Kirke in a separate article. Our article can be found here.
Mandal is one of the most magical and relaxed cities in Norway that we definitely want to visit again. We can imagine a visit to the southernmost city of Norway at any time of the year. We are already looking forward to seeing you again.