With 82,000 inhabitants, KRISTIANSAND, some 30km west along the E18 from Lillesand, is Norway’s fifth-largest town and a part-time holiday resort – altogether a genial, energetic place which thrives on its ferry connections with Denmark, busy marinas, passable sandy beaches and, last but not least, its offshore oil industry. In summer, the seafront and adjoining streets are a frenetic bustle of bars, fast-food joints and flirting holidaymakers, and even in winter Norwegians come here to live it up.
Like so many other Scandinavian towns, Kristiansand was founded by – and named after – Christian IV, who saw an opportunity to strengthen his coastal defences here. Building started in 1641, and the town has retained the spacious quadrant plan that characterized all of Christian’s projects. There are few specific sights as such, but the place is well worth a quick look around, especially when everyone else has gone to the beach and left the central pedestrianized streets relatively empty. The main historic attraction, however, is a few kilometres out of town at the Kristiansand Kanonmuseum, the forbidding remains of a large coastal gun battery built during the German occupation of World War II.