Sarpsborg preps for the big 1,000

Sarpsborg gets a $12.5 million facelift
Pusser opp Sarpsborg for 100 millioner kroner

Photo courtesy of the City of Sarpsborg In “Flod” the bear in the bathtub depicts the animal prominently featured on Sarpsborg’s coat of arms.

Photo courtesy of the City of Sarpsborg
In “Flod” the bear in the bathtub depicts the animal prominently featured on Sarpsborg’s coat of arms.

Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.

Morten Nilsen
Sarpsborg, Norway

Sarpsborg may be turning 1,000 years old, but its downtown doesn’t look it. Much of it has been given a facelift costing more than 12.5 million dollars! This summer my husband and I had the good fortune of witnessing the fabulous transformation through the eyes of Information Specialist Morten Nilsen, Cultural Services Specialist Siri Braadland Harborg, and Mayor Sindre Evje-Martinsen.

The market square received approximately 5 million dollars to add new stone, sculptures, and trees. There is no question that the market square is the heart of the city, including serving as a marketplace for the sale of local agricultural products during the day and festive events, such as concerts in the evening. Surrounding the square are cafés, restaurants, a shopping center, and apartments. It reminds me more of the market square I knew as a teen.

The gågata, or walking street, received 3.1 million dollars. St. Marie gate, as it is called, opened in 1971 and is Norway’s oldest gågata. Now the street’s pipes and wires are buried underground, and above ground a total renovation has taken place, including better access for people with mobility or visual impairments. It is now a showcase street for stores, restaurants, and other businesses.

Photo courtesy of the City of Sarpsborg Today’s city square is Sarpsborg’s gathering place for citizens and visitors alike.

Photo courtesy of the City of Sarpsborg
Today’s city square is Sarpsborg’s gathering place for citizens and visitors alike.

Along gågata three existing new pieces of art are being installed. The first is called “Flod,” created by Petter Hepsø. It is a small bear in a pool of water. The bear is prominently featured on the Sarpsborg coat of arms. The second is “The Boy Who Talked With Animals,” designed by local artist Fredrik Raddum, who was inspired by the novel written by author Roald Dahl, whose roots are in Sarpsborg. And finally, “Petroglypha,” by Linda Bakke who was inspired by horse designs she found in the many Viking petroglyphs throughout the district.

Right in the middle of town is the large and magnificent Kulås Park that includes 40 Viking burial mounds that are nearly 2,000 years old. At one time, there was an amphitheater of sorts. Recently another 2.5 million dollars was apportioned to build a new amphitheater that is ready to seat 6,000 people for concerts, plays, and 17. mai celebrations, as examples. Along with its beautiful trails surrounded by breathtaking pines, the park will soon have a new fountain that will serve as a peaceful retreat for all who visit.

The city’s largest indoor cultural hall, Sarpsborg Scene, was granted one million dollars to refurbish itself, including new lighting and sound systems and removable seats, providing better facilities for year-round concerts and theater.

Finally, a local bank foundation gifted $620,000 to the city in order to create a jubilee sculpture. It is called “Genesis,” in honor of the young St. Olaf who founded the city in 1016. It will be located in a small park along St. Marie gate and will appear as if St. Olaf is rising from the pool.

But is this the end of Sarpsborg’s facelift? I don’t think so. There seems to be a lot of personal pride on the part of the citizenry to make its city a real showcase is 2016. In fact, as I was leaving Sarpsborg, I noted the Lutheran Church was putting on a new roof. I look forward to any and all surprises next year. There is no doubt the city is opening its arms and beckoning all to visit Sarpsborg in 2016!

Sarpsborg celebrates 1,000 years July 29-31, 2016. Founded by St. Olav at Sarpsfossen, the largest waterfall in Europe, the city offers the grandeur of the Viking Age. Come and celebrate with modern day Vikings through food, music, tours, and theatre. For more information, e-mail Tours@BrekkeTours.com or leslee.sarping@gmail.com. Be sure to visit www.sarpsborg2016.no.

This article is a part of Bestefars hjørne, a feature column by Leslee Lane Hoyum.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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