Tonsberg is the oldest city in Norway, established in 871, and is the administrative center of Vestfold county. Today it is among the 10 largest cities in the country. In January 2012, Tønsberg had 40.558 inhabitants.
The location of the city, close to the fjord, and with the activity both on and by the water, is giving Tønsberg it's unique atmosphere.
Tønsberg offers a wide variety of cultural, sports and recreation. Graves from the Viking Age, museums, culture halls, galleries, and much more.
Like a few other municipalities, Tonsberg does not have a traditional, approved Coat of Arms, but has instead an old City Seal with deep roots back to the Middle Age. The seal is legally protected©, and is not to be used without permission from the authorities.
The only known original city seal is from 1349, and does not deviate much from today's official City Seal.
The seal depicts a castle, surrounded by a ring-shaped wall on a mountain, with the sea below. At the mountain foot there is an old "long-ship".
The seal has this inscription: "Dette er seglet til Tunsbergenserne", meaning "This is the Seal of the people of Tunsberg".
During the last year there has been build a full scale replica of the Oseberg Ship, an amazing finding from a Viking grave, excavated in 1904 very close to Tønsberg.
The original ship is to be seen in Oslo, in the Viking Museum, but this beautiful replica you can see in the harbour of Tønsberg. You can also follow the project and learn more on the New Oseberg Ship Foundation's website.
In the middle of Tonsberg you can see the Slottsfjellet (The Castle Mountain).
From this place, the "Castrum Tunsbergis" the Norwegian king Håkon Håkonsson ruled over Norway during the 1200's. At that time, this was the largest fortress in the country.
Håkon Håkonssons daughter, princess Kristina, was married to the prince of Spain. She was buried in the town Covarrubias in northern Spain in 1262.
The original fortress is mostly gone. The Tonsberg Seaman Association build 3 towers on the top of the mountain in 1856. The towers were made of wood, and in 1876 they burdned down.
In 1888 the city build a tower on the mountain, in memory of the old historical place.
Tønsberg has several recommendable hotels, and one of them is the Thon Hotel Brygga, located dockside, 10 meters from the fjord.
It has a restaurant, where you can enjoy your meal inside the building or outside, watching the city life passing by.