Arendal is the oldest town of Sorlandet’s. It is the administrative center for the region as well as for Aust-Agder County. The town was established during the 16th century. At that time it was called Arendall. There was not a formal town status for it at that time.
When Christian IV founded Kristiansand in 1641 he granted the citizens of the area a monopoly on all of the trade for Aust-Agder and for Vest-Agder. This grant was intended to subsidize Kristiansand as well as its fortifications. It put the surrounding towns in a tough position. The peasants of the country as well as the towns protested the grant because of the hardships that were caused. These protests resulted in Arendal being granted permission to load timber until there was a way to transfer it to Kristiansand.
In the year 1723, the town was provided market city privileges. However, peasants living in the other districts would smuggle goods to Britain, Denmark, and in the Baltic, when they were supposed to only sell to Arendal. This kept up until 1735 when the city was given a town charter. The charter as well as the Danish monopoly on imports of grain led to many peasants living in poverty and starving. This created some famous rebellions in the area.
For many years, the timber trade as well as ship building and shipping, were all important industries in the city. It was the largest port in the year 1880 in terms of tonnage that was handled.
The Aust Agder museum is located in Arendal. The museum offers seafaring and archaeological exhibits. In the Merdoy harbor, which is about a 30 minute boat ride from Langbrygga, there is Merdogard, a former captain’s home. This home is open for public viewing.
Arendal Photo Gallery
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