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.
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.
A town of timber
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 (above) is known for its classic Swiss style octagonal towers.
The streets of the Dutch Quarter
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.
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.
The history of the Dutch traders
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.
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.
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.
See the clogs on the doorstep, above? A nice touch! You can also see a glimpse of another of the murals.
The waterfront of Flekkefjord
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.
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?