Officially founded in 1125 with the completion of the cathedral (although inhabited innumerable years before then), Stavanger contains a rich cultural heritage visible in nearly every corner of the city. Original 18th and 19th century wooden houses form the core of the city, with newer architecture spreading outwards along with the growing industry and population. Characteristically, the traditional city center is small and dense, with winding, cobbled streets framed by the harbor. A recently implemented city development strategy has worked to upscale the waterfront area and expand the city center. This directive has, amongst other things, resulted in a new cultural axis, spanning from the contemporary art center Tou Scene in the newly developed brownfields on the eastside of the city center, to Bjergsted on the west side of the bay, home to the city’s new concert hall and music and performing arts education centers.
Located in the county of Rogaland on the southwest coast of Norway, Stavanger is surrounded by fjords, mountains and long, sandy beaches. The municipality of Stavanger covers an area of 68 square kilometers. Its population growth is one of the highest in the country, currently numbering 130,000 inhabitants and rising.
A city historically recognized for thriving shipping, fishing and canning industries, Stavanger is now largely supported by the North Sea’s oil resources. Currently the oil capital of Norway, with the headquarters of national operators such as Statoil and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate located here, the city attracts a diverse international work force and benefits from a wealthy municipality that publicly invests in culture and infrastructure.
With the sudden influx of new industry and resources, the city is currently experiencing a cultural revival, with more artists and curators settling in the area and increased attention paid to the city’s already existent cultural institutions.