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Risør kommune
Coat of arms of Risør kommune
Coat of arms
Official logo of Risør kommune
Aust-Agder within
Risør within Aust-Agder
Risør within Aust-Agder
Coordinates: 58°43′35″N 9°11′40″E / 58.72639°N 9.19444°E / 58.72639; 9.19444Coordinates: 58°43′35″N 9°11′40″E / 58.72639°N 9.19444°E / 58.72639; 9.19444
Country Norway
County Aust-Agder
District Sørlandet
Administrative centre Risør
 • Mayor (2011) Per Kristian Lunden (Labour Party)
 • Total 193.02 km2 (74.53 sq mi)
 • Land 179.08 km2 (69.14 sq mi)
 • Water 13.94 km2 (5.38 sq mi)
Area rank 332 in Norway
Population (2010)
 • Total 6,894
 • Rank 142 in Norway
 • Density 38.5/km2 (100/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years) -1.5 %
Demonym(s) Risøring[1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code NO-0901
Official language form Neutral
Website www.risor.kommune.no
Data from Statistics Norway

About this sound Risør  is a city and municipality in Aust-Agder county, Norway. The city belongs to the traditional region of Sørlandet. It is a popular tourist place. The surrounding area includes many small lakes and hills, and is known for its beautiful coastline as well.

Risør is famous for its tourist attractions such as the wooden boat festival which is staged during the first week of August every year. It also has a growing reputation as the regional capital of arts and crafts, which culminates in the "Villvin-festival" during the summer holiday.

General information[edit]

The city of Risør was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). On 1 January 1901, a part of neighboring Søndeled municipality (population: 658) was transferred to Risør. On 1 January 1964, the rural municipality of Søndeled (population: 3,134) was merged into Risør, giving the newly enlarged municipality with a population of 6,136. On 1 January 1984, the uninhabited Folevatnet area of neighboring Tvedestrand was transferred to Risør.


The Old Norse form of the name must have been Ríseyjar. The first element is rís which means "thicket" and the last element is the plural form of ey which means "island". The name was originally referring to the island Risøya which is located just outside the town.

The old name of the town (until 1909) was Østerrisør (meaning "eastern Risør"). The first element was added in the 16th century to distinguish the town from Vesterrisør, the old name of Mandal.


The coat-of-arms was granted on 18 July 1891. The arms show a lighthouse on a rocky island. This symbolizes the Holmen fortress built in 1788.

The history of these arms is quite curious. When on 18 July 1891 King Oscar II visited the city, a menu had to be printed. It was printed with a coat of arms on the top, which was probably designed by the printer. That afternoon the King approved the new arms, mainly because his name was printed under the arms on the menu.[2]


In the 2007 municipal elections, Risør had the highest vote for the Red Electoral Alliance in Norway at 13.7 per cent. Also, Knut Henning Thygesen was elected as the only mayor from the Red Party through a direct mayor election.[3]


Risør was a small fishing village when Dutch vessels began to call there to purchase timber in about 1570. By 1607 two inns had been opened to serve Dutch sailors. In 1630 Risør became a privileged port (ladestad).

The place is known for a church building from the Middle Ages, as well as a timber church Den Hellige Ånds (Holy Ghost) which was built in the Baroque style in 1647.

In 1723 Risør became a privileged town. By the end of the 18th century, 96 sailing vessels were owned by Risør merchants. It was the sixth largest shipping town and one of four shipbuilding centers in Norway.

In Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote extensively while visiting Risør in 1783, including the following remarks:[4]

  • On entering Risør - "We were a considerable time entering amongst the islands, before we saw about two hundred houses crowded together under a very high rock--still higher appearing above."
  • While at Risør - "… seaports are not favorable to improvement. The captains acquire a little superficial knowledge by traveling, which their indefatigable attention to the making of money prevents their digesting; and the fortune that they thus laboriously acquire is spent, as it usually is in towns of this description, in show and good living."
  • While departing Risør - "The view of the town was now extremely fine. A huge rocky mountain stood up behind it, and a vast cliff stretched on each side, forming a semicircle. In a recess of the rocks was a clump of pines, amongst which a steeple rose picturesquely beautiful."

Risør played a role in the Napoleonic Wars in 1807-1814, when Denmark–Norway took France's side, and therefore became the enemy of Norway's most important trading-partner: Great Britain. (It is from this period that Henrik Ibsen took his subject, when he created his famous poem Terje Vigen.) It was south of Risør, in Lyngør (in neighboring Tvedestrand municipality) that several British warships, headed by HMS Dictator of the English navy pursued and sank the last major vessel and the pride of Norway: the frigate HDMS Najaden.

Risør was almost wiped off the map in 1861. A great fire swept across the small town leaving just 85 houses and the 1647 church. The city was rebuilt - and today it presents a positive impression of a well kept town with white wooden houses.

By the second half of the 19th century, over 100 sailing vessels were home ported in Risør and more than 1000 sailors called Risør home. But the transition to steamships and the economic damage of World War I destroyed Risør’s shipping industry.


Risør is the easternmost coastal municipality in Aust-Agder, located on the point where the Søndeledfjord and Sandnesfjord meet, providing ready access to the Skagerrak. (No connection with Sandnes in Rogaland.) It is bordered in the southwest by Tvedestrand, on the northwest by Vegårshei and Gjerstad in Aust-Agder and in the northeast by Kragerø in Telemark. The Nordfjorden is a branch of the Søndeledfjorden that is to the north of Barmen island heading towards the village of Søndeled.


Risør was a city built as a result of shipping and industrial interests. Today much of the industry and most larger sailing vessels are gone - leaving behind a town with a lot of summer tourist attractions.[citation needed]

The historic timber and fishing industries have mostly vanished. Paper production served as an economic basis for a period, until the pulp factory was closed in 1970. Currently tourism, a burgeoning art colony and summer vacationers account for a major part of the economy.


  • A world class chamber music festival, is held in late June
  • A bluegrass music-festival every mid-July. Norway's only festival of its kind.
  • A popular artists’ market (Villvinmarked or "Villvin-festival") is held in July
  • A wooden boat festival (Trebåtfestival) is held in August. During the festival the population swells to 20,000 people.[5]
  • Den Hellige Ånds church, built in 1647
  • The citadel at Tangen, a fortification from the Napoleonic Wars (with modifications from the German occupation period)
  • Risør Akvarium, salt water aquarium with over 100 different species. The only salt water aquarium in the south region of Norway.

Notable residents[edit]

Main category: People from Risør



  1. ^ "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet. Retrieved 2015-12-01. 
  2. ^ Norske Kommunevåpen (1990). "Nye kommunevåbener i Norden". Retrieved 3 October 2008. 
  3. ^ Ftenposten article on the election
  4. ^ Wollstonecraft, Mary (1889). Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (Project Gutenberg Etext version). Cassell & Company. 
  5. ^ "Risør Trebåtfestival" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 4 Mar 2009. 
  6. ^ "Isach Lauritzen Falch og Dorthe Engvoldsdatter". eidangerslekt.org. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 


  • Cornwallis, Graeme; Bender, Andrew; Swaney, Deana (May 2002). Norway (2 ed.). Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 978-1-74059-200-0. 
  • Lemmer, Gerhard; Frey, Elke; Rahe, Helge (2001). Nelles Guide Norway. Nelles Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88618-897-0. 
  • Stagg, Frank Noel (1958). South Norway. George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. 
  • Taylor-Wilkie, Doreen, ed. (November 1996). Insight Guides Norway (2 ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-395-81912-8. 
  • Welle-Strand, Erling (1996). Adventure Roads in Norway. Nortrabooks. ISBN 978-82-90103-71-7. 

External links[edit]