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Exploring the Dutch Quarter of Flekkefjord

Outside Flekkefjord Museum

This small picturesque neighbourhood of a small Norwegian town had a strong relationship with the Netherlands in the 1500s and 1600s.

Many people outside of Norway haven't heard of Flekkefjord, let alone its charming Dutch Quarter (Hollenderbyen) at the town's northern edge.

Exploring the Dutch Quarter of Flekkefjord, Norway: A gorgeous small historic town of white wooden houses.

Like many small Norwegian towns, Flekkefjord grew up on trade, and trading stone and wood with the Netherlands was a key element. Silver, grains, porcelain, silk, liquor, and tobacco came in the other direction. Soap, bleach and starch were popular among the women of the town.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Dutch trade grew as timber exported from Flekkefjord was used in the expansion of Amsterdam. The area of the town in which many of the traders lived has been beautifully preserved.

Perhaps the most photographed building in the city, the Grand Hotel (below) is known for its classic Swiss style octagonal towers.

White houses in Flekkefjord, Southern Norway

The Flekkefjord Museum is located inside an old merchant’s house, but the real exhibits are the streets themselves. Let's take a walk!

While most of the houses are white, the area is brightened up a little with the odd different colour, and a spot of street art very much in the style of Stavanger.

 

Street art in Flekkefjord, Norway

Yellow wooden house

The town prospered because of its ideal location. It had a good natural harbour, it was close to the forests of southern Norway for the wood, and was closer to the Netherlands than almost anywhere else in Norway.

It's said that the Dutch traders stayed in the town during the winter months to secure the goods for the following year's trading. The influence of the Dutch went beyond trade, and many Dutch and Dutch-influenced words are used in this region of Norway today.

Kirkegaten, a street in the Dutch Quarter of Flekkefjord, Norway

Virtually all the buildings in the area are residential, and the owners take great pride in their homes. Every house was sparkling and most had fresh flowers outside.

Perhaps that's because the concept of gardening was also imported by the Dutch. Captains used to bring strawberries and vegetables to Flekkefjord, along with many varieties of seeds.

White houses on Bakkegaten in Flekkefjord, Norway

Walking down Fjellgaten in Flekkefjord, Norway

While plenty of Dutch people came to Norway, there was also a flow in the other direction. Young Norwegian boys joined Dutch sailing ships as crew, while girls travelled to Amsterdam to work as maids.

From 1626 to 1800, more than 11,000 Norwegians got married in the Netherlands, with more than four out of five staying there.

Houses on Nesgaten

See the clogs on the doorstep, above? A nice touch! You can also see a glimpse of another of the murals.

Nesgata is considered the heart of the area by some as it's the street where much of the trade took place, and where much of the wood was stored. Just as you think it's coming to an end, Nesgaten continues twisting and turning on towards the water.

The Dutch Quarter waterfront

This lovely view from the waterfront hides a murky secret below the water line. 17 shipwrecks! There's even a map on a waterside building displaying the location of them all.

I wouldn't say the Dutch Quarter is worth the trip alone, but Flekkefjord has more going for it (see this article on my day trip in general) so if you're passing nearby or driving between Kristiansand and Stavanger for example, it's a great place for a break.

Have you been to Flekkefjord's Dutch Quarter? What did you think of it?

The Dutch Quarter of Flekkefjord, Norway, is a beautiful district of white wooden houses by the waterfront.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

5 Comments

  1. Very interesting. I’ve been to Flekkefjord a few times, but didn’t know about this area. My husband and his parents and sisters are in Kvinesdal right now, so I shared this blog with them. Hopefully they will get a chance to walk through.

  2. Very interesting – I didn’t know of this area and I would be interested to know of the Dutch linguistic influence. A lot of Dutch (and Germans) in Norway as part of the Hanseatic League stayed and married Norwegians. Like a number of Bergen families mine has a number of Dutch and German links such as Geelmuyden, van Kuhle etc etc

  3. This was an interessting read. Ny rather is from Flekkefjord and I have been there many times, but I had no clue about the Dutch influence there. I will definitely take the time to walk the neighborhood next time l am there.

  4. Very interesting to read form a Dutch born youngster’s perspective, learning about my home country’s history. This goes on the list of possible places to come and see when (DV) we get to Norway for a holiday. Thank you for your wonderful articles about Norway.

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