A few minute´s drive south of Larvik lies the the happy little summer town of Stavern, a pearl full of life and laughter the whole season. Stavern´s geographical position results in a staggering average of 200 sunny days per year and it is suprisingly hot during the summer. Unusually long spring and summer months offer a natural attraction for a country more used to long winter months, especially when blue skies meet the sea in an uninterrupted horizon.
Stavern has developed into a centre for the arts and galleries and exhibitions are to be found on every corner as the town´s inhibitants swell three-fold in summer. Norway´s smallest town, was home to many of Norway´s most known and celebrated artist including Herman Wildenvey and Jonas Lie.
Summer time bubbles with life in "Norway´s Smile", which Wildenvey dubbed the town. "Happy Days" is an arrangement with a multivarious programme. There are light entertainments, theatre and concerts dedicated to the honour and happiness of the thousands of boating and motoring tourists who stop off for a time in summer Stavern.
The poet Herman Wildenvey was born in Mjøndalen, is eternally and undeniably linked to Stavern. Herman and his wife Gisken found peace in Stavern at their home "Hegrisheim". During Herman´s dead a sculpture was reviled located at the entrance to "Fredriksvern naval base", overlooks the Hotel Wassilioff, and it´s said that he thinks of pleasure of summers gone by.
Jonas Lie a norwegian novelist who is considered one of the four great ones of the 19th century Norwegian literature (The others are Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and Alexander Kielland.) was born in Hokksund and as a youth Jonas Lie was a naval cadet in Stavern and lived in the naval barracks. This setting became the basis of his famous novel "The commander´s Doughters" (Kommandørens døtre) which immortilised him in Norway. In his later years, Jonas Lie and his wife Thomasine retired to Stavern, to their house "Elisenfryd". His tombstone is located at Stavern Church.
The first main construction in Stavern can be traced to Count Ulrik Fredrik Gyldenløve who built Citadellet on the island of Karlsøy among the idyllic skerries of Stavern in the 1680´s. Karlsøy was later renamed Citadell Isle after the fort. During the Nordic war (1709-1720) the fort became of great importance as the only naval base for the Danish / Norwegian fleet as well as for the ships that continued to sail between Norway and Denmark with mail and provisions.
It was during these years that naval hero Peter Wessel Tordenskiold made his mark in Stavern. History tells us that he fell in love with a girl from Stavern and legend has it that her ghost now wanders along the ramparts of Citadellet.
Gustav Vigeland created a bronze statue of Tordenskiold that stands on a rock in the port overlooking his old berth. On Citadell island just off the coast, generations of artists have painted, sketched or sculpted the beautiful skerry landscape, whilst poets have waxed Iyrical, for there is enough of inspiration.
THE REMEMBRANCE HALL
Arriving from the sea you will see the pyramid shaped Minnehallen, our national war memorial to fallen Norwegian seamen, a landmark you can look out for.
The Svenner lighthouse blinks and reminds us about beauty and the values we are custodians of. On a clear day you can see across the Oslofjord to Sweden. This rocky piece of coastline with its many nooks and crannies has a spot for everyone. An ideal place for barbecues and relaxing. Trips and excursions to "Svenner lighthouse" daily throughout the summer from 17pm 19pm.
The largest historical site in the county of Vestfold is "Brunla gravfelt" with its graves, wells and hollows dating back to the Stone Age, Bronze Age and late Iron Age. The area is over 120ha. There is an information board in the area.
THE WATER POST
Beside Stavern´s town hall, surrounded by the old garrison buildings, one of the best-preserved water pumps in the Nordic countries, from 1777, is to be found. People used to come here to fetch water, wash clothes and hear the latest news. Today the park is a natural meeting point in the middle of Stavern. During the summer many couples and bridal parties are photographed at this idyllic spot.
Nevlunghavn brings peace of mind. Here the open sea meets the little fishing town which has managcd to preserve its´ original character. Nevlunghavn has been placed on the United Nations list of places worthy of preservation. The little harbour has its´ own hostelry with good food, accommodation and a very special atmosphere. It has its´ own fish delivery, (reception, where the fishermen deliver and sell their catch) with activity all year round and basic service in the summer. You can sit on the jetty with a bag of fresh prawns, and with peace of mind savour the summer. Off the coast lies Bramskjæra, a small island kingdom and a skerry paradise for boating people. Immediately west of "Havna", which is the local name for the hamlet, you can find Oddane Sand camping.
Further west lies Mølen where the Vestfold Ra, the gigantic moraine from the ice age, meets the sea. Great stone mounds from the iron age have made Mølen famous. In addition the area has its´ own unique nature, geology and botany. The total of 230 cairns furthest down towards the sea are from the Late Iron Age and Viking times.
17 campsites, 3000 summer cabins and a totally unspoilt stretch of coast line. Experience the exhilarating sea air as you explore this truly unique area.
On your walk you will pass through Brunlanes, an area of historical interest. Archeological finds tell us that this area was inhabitated thousands of years ago. Finds at Austein farm prove that people settled in this area at the end of the ice age, approximately 10.000 years ago. Few places in Norway can boast of finds dating back to the stone and iron ages. The coastal path passes small fishing villages such as Nevlunghavn and Helgeroa. You will find impressive rock formations dating back to the iron age in this area. The botanical and geographical features around here are a sight to behold. Other places of interest include a stone church and an old mill, both built in the 1700´s. The latter has been restored and now houses a village museum.
FREDRIKSVERN NAVAL BASE
In 1750 King Fredrik V commissioned the construction of Fredriksvern Verft, which would be Norways premier naval base and largest naval port. Today, the Norwegian Airforce has a modern Academy on this very site, surrounded by the old ramparts. In central Stavern, the yellow and ochre coloured barracks that were once used as boat sheds and quarters for the Commanders, Officers and crew can still be seen and are well worth a visit. The distinct, red cubic houses built on the rocky crags above Fredriksvern form part of the naval base. They resemble old fashioned, traditional Norwegian farmhouse pantries.
"Kadettbrakka", built in 1773, is one of the largest wooden structures in Norway. It was originally built as a navy ware house to store provisions for 1000 men, including the staff on Fredriksvern Verft, for 6 months. The building is an impressive 70 metres long, 11 metres wide and 4 storeys high.
The Commander´s Residence was completed in December 1751. The main building has two wings. The first officer to call it home was Commander Herbst. He was also responsible for much of the layout of the naval base."The Guardroom" (Vaktstuen) was completed in 1752. The building has two guard houses and a detention cell on the 1st floor. There are 4 smaller detention cells on the 2nd floor.
"Dry docks" (Galleiskurene) were built 1766-67. A total of 10 dry docks were built, of which five remain.
By the beach you will find a large rock building. This is known locally as "The Powder House" (Krutthuset), and was built 1774-79 and used as a store for the Norwegian / Danish skerry fleet which was then based at nearby Fredriksvern.
The most outstanding building on Fredriksvern is Fredriksvern Church. Completed in 1756, it is a beautiful blend of renaissance and baroque architecture. In front of Fredriksvern Church stands a fountain designed by Ørnulf Bast and built after World War II. Inscribed on the fountain are names of 13 men who gave their lives during the war. The fountain is made of a light coloured granite, common to this part of Norway.
In 1840 Michael Wassilioff deserted Tsar Nicolais´ army, and fled from Riga with Captain Wuhrschmit to Stavern. Here he married Anne Marie, and in 1844 they founded Hotel Wassilioff. At the Hotel Wassilioff no two rooms are alike. Decorations is a continious process, with just a few rooms taken at a time.
Larvik Golfclub is one of Norways best 18 holes golftracks. Is ranked as one of Europas 200 best golf courses. Open fairways and challenging greens.
Kaupang Golfclub is under construction.