Pop. 51,359; Area 722 sq. km. (279 sq. mi.)
Extensive archeological excavations have shown that Skien is the only city in Norway which has been continuously inhabited from the Viking Age to modern times. The city was granted a Royal Charter in 1358 but it's history goes back to 900 A.D. The city lies where the watershed from the Hardanger Moors and northern Telemark runs out into the Skien Fjord. This has made it a natural exchange point for goods for and from inland Telemark. The name "Skien" comes from the brook "Skida" that used to run through the town. The coat of arms is derived from the earliest known seal of the city, dating back to 1609. The central cross is made from two ski poles, and the six-point star in the middle of the cross may be a symbol of the Virgin May. The cross is flanked by a pair of skis, and meadow buttercups take the outside positions on the red background.
A convent was established on the island of Gimsøy in the early 1100s and the nuns were successful businesswomen. Timber and lumber products have always been important to the city's economy. At one time it was Norway's most important lumbering city. Henrik Ibsen recalled his birthplace, Skien, as "the city of sawblades and waterfalls." Other famous natives of Skien include the statesman A. M. Schweigaard and the historian P. A. Munch. There are several locations with bronze age rock carvings near Skien. Skien has been razed by fires to a greater extent than any other Norwegian medieval town. The last major city fire was in 1886 after which the center of town was rebuilt. The architecture of Skien is typical for the turn of the century but the neighborhood of Snipetorp, just east of the town center, contains many 17th and 18th century buildings. Skien is the capital of Telemark and the center for the county's administration. It includes the districts of Gjerpen, Solum and Skien.
Sights to See
Bygdebøker for Skien
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