Tromsø 1890

Tromsø's history

Tromsø has a rich history stretching back approximately 11,000 years. Here is some background information about the city, which was founded in 1794, as well as some of the important events in Tromsø’s history.

Tromsø 1884 - Sunday afternoon

The first people came to the Tromsø area approximately 11,000 years ago. Unfortunately little is known about which ethnic group and language group they may have belonged to. Sami culture stretches back at least 3000 years ago. The Scandinavian language and culture present has been present in the Tromsø area since around 200-400 AD, while Lyngen experienced immigration from Finland from the 18th century. A strong Norwegianisation of formerly Sami and Finnish areas of Tromsø and Lyngen started around 1900. This was accompanied by strong depopulation of the rural areas from the 1960s.

Tromsø officially gained its city charter in 1794, even though the first church was built here between 1240 and 1250. From the 1850s, Tromsø was the centre of hunting expeditions to the Arctic. In the early 1900s, the city was the starting point for a number of hunting, research and tourist expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. This led to the city being known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”. When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, Tromsø served as the capital of the free Norway for a few weeks. This was the only city in Northern Norway to avoid serious war damage. In the years after 1960, Tromsø has experienced an unprecedented growth in population, which may be attributed in part to the establishment of institutions like the University of Tromsø and the Norwegian Polar Institute.

 

Pomor 1890-1900

Archaeological excavations show settlement dating back 11,000 years.        

1000 – 1200        
Skansen – a turf rampart is constructed

1240 – 1250        
The first church on the island of Tromsøya is built on a farm mound, one of 14 in total.

1308                      
Letter of indulgence from the Pope particularly linked to the nativities of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1537                     
The church property is stolen with royal approval.

1609                    
Witch-hunt, three people are burnt

1717                     
Thomas von Westen complains to the King about the sale of spirits in Tromsø.

1787                     
The Customs Office is adopted and Finnmark Amt is declared a free trade area. The trading privileges in the Middles Ages led to strong dependence on Bergen and Trondheim up to til 1789. Tromsø was one of the starting points for the trading route eastwards and an important place for Pomor trade.

1794                     
City charter and privileges as a trading centre

1812                     
Battle of Tromsø, “Pølsehavna” with the English (Napoleonic wars)

1826                     
The Seminaret teachers’ training college is established (now part of UIT – The Arctic University of Norway).

1848                     
Tromsø Skibsverft (shipyard) is established.

1861                     
The current Lutheran and Catholic cathedrals are built.

1871                     
Elling Carlsen discovers the camp Willem Barents established at Novaya Zemlya.

1872                     
Tromsø Museum is established (now part of UIT – The Arctic University of Norway).

1877                     
Macks Brewery is established.

1894                     
The “old” museum opens for the city centennial (now the Tromsø Centre for Contemporary Arts).

1901                     
Roald Amundsen comes to Tromsø and buys Gjøa. He embarks on an expedition to the Arctic for hunting and oceanographic surveys then returns for reconstruction of Gjøa at Tromsø Skibsverft. Amundsen sails southwards for further preparations before starting his expedition through the Northwest Passage in 1903. 

1917                     
Geofysen, the weather forecasting division of Northern Norway is established.

1927                     
The Northern Lights Observatory opens.

1928                      
Polar hero Roald Amundsen departs Tromsø for the final time. On board a French Latham 47 flying boat, he leads a French-Norwegian group searching for missing members of Umberto Nobile’s crew.

1936                      
The road connection through the valley of Lavangsdalen to the inland is completed

1940                     
Tromsø Radio and Simavik power station are bombed in April. In May 20 tonnes of gold are sent from Tromsø to and in June the King and Crown Price leave Tromsø for England. Tromsø is the capital of Norway for three weeks.

1944 - 1945          
The population of Finnmark is evacuated southwards, and the German battleship Tirpiz is sunk by British bombers in the Sandnessundet west of Tromsøya. German troops from Finnmark and Finland head south.

1960                     
The Tromsø Bridge connecting Tromsøya with the mainland opens.

1961                     
The cable car opens.

1964                     
Tromsø Airport opens.

1965                     
Tromsdalen Church (The Arctic Cathedral) is consecrated.

1969                     
A major fire destroys sections of the old wooden buildings in the city centre. 

1972                     
The world’s northernmost university, UIT, opens in Tromsø.

1974                     
The Sandnessund Bridge connects Tromsøya with Kvaløya.

1987                     
A car park in the tunnel in downtown Tromsø opens.

1988                     
The tunnel through Tromsøya opens, as well as the undersea tunnel between Kvaløya and Ringvassøya.

1989                     
Pope John Paul II celebrates mass in Tromsø (3 June).

1991                     
The new regional hospital, UNN, opens in Tromsø.

1994                     
Tromsø’s 200th anniversary. The undersea tunnel between Tromsøya and the mainland opens.

1998                     
The Norwegian Polar Institute and Polaria open in Tromsø.

2005                     
The new Hålogaland Teater building opens.
Nelson Mandela visits Tromsø for the 46664 Arctic Concert. Tromsø is named as the world’s first 46664 ambassador city.

2014                     
The first international olymics hosted by Tromsø, World Chess Olympiad.