The townhouses in the center of Levanger were built after the last city fire in 1897 and are one of the few remaining wooden buildings in Central Norway from the years around 1900. The townhouses give the wooden house town its distinctive character with different styles such as Swiss, New Gothic and Art Nouveau. In 2018, Levanger was granted the status of protected cultural environment of national value.
Why is Levanger listed as a cultural environment
On 9. Nov 2018, large parts of Levanger city centre were protected as a cultural environment. The listing includes the city’s streets and squares, green areas and buildings with its backyards. In total, 157 properties are fully or partially covered by the cultural environment conservation.
With the protection, we preserve a wooden house environment of national value. It is an example of an urban wooden house environment as it appeared at the beginning of the 20th century.
Levangers cultural environment
The wooden houses in Levanger were built during the short period between the Building Act of 1896 and the “Murtvangloven” Act* of 1904.
The “Murtvangsloven” Act was introduced after the city fire in Ålesund in 1904 and prohibited the construction of wooden houses within the city limits in all cities in Norway. Levanger has one of the few remaining settlements in Central Norway from that period and the town’s distinctive character as a wooden house town is well preserved. Other wooden house environments have been destroyed by fire or bombed during World War II. *(law forcing everyone to use bricks in new buildings)
The building environment in Levanger is varied. It is characteristic of the period around 1900, when industrially manufactured buildings were about to replace the craft-based building tradition. Urban planning and architecture reflect this period and represent both cultural-historical and environmental values which is necessary to manage so that the qualities are not lost. This applies in particular to the street structure and the closed quarter structure, the axis elements such as the fire street / park axis, the karré settlement, the opening of the street structure down towards the seafront, the area between Sjøgata and the bridges and architectural markings of important street corners.
Bakck yard environments
Levanger’s urban development history reflects how building legislation and customs have evolved over time. The town plan of 1846, with minor changes in 1897, is clearly visible in Levanger. This is especially true of the street structure and the closed quarter structure.
Levanger also has well-preserved backyard environments. There are still some of the typical outbuildings, which have a high cultural-historical value. The backyards and outbuildings say a lot about how people lived at that time.
Levanger is the second cultural environment conservation in Trøndelag, the first was Sør-Gjæslingan. (And the eleventh in Norway).
It is the wooden houses from this time which is the reason why Levanger is today culturally listed, but the history of the city stretches far back in time.
LEVANGER FOR OVER 1000 YEARS
The archaeological cultural layers preserved in Levanger show that the site has evolved for more than 1000 years, from farm and church site to beach, village and eventually market town. The coastal city of Levanger has always been central. The old royal road, which bound the regions together outside of the coast, passed through Levanger. In 1848, the first steamship company in northern Norway was founded in Levanger. In 1902 the railway came to Levanger.
At Dampskipsbrygga harbour you can see the long wooden stick which gives a nice local history introduction to the city history.
Levanger as a market place
Levangermartnan / Marsimartnan (LEvanger market) is one of the oldest and most important markets in Norway. Here, mountain farmers from Jemtland (in Sweden), Sami, fishermen from Fosen and farmers from Innherred met and traded on a large scale. From the end of the 17th century, traders from Trondheim began to set up trade stalls in Levanger. The Martnan was an important prerequisite for the development of the town and the city of Levanger along the seafront at the outlet of Eidsbotn.
Market place (Kjøpsatad/Kaupang)
In March 1833, a proposal for making the beach place Levanger a “Kjøpstad” was submitted to the Odelsting. On 18. May 1836, the law was passed, and Levanger became the first market town in Nordre Trondhjem county.
A kjøpstad (market town) (gammelnorsk: kaupstaðr, markedsplass) was a city society with privileges that gave city citizens a monopoly on trade and other business, so-called marketplace rights. It was important for the authorities to direct import and export through the retail outlets, which made it easier, among other things, to keep track of and collect taxes and fees. The marketplace privileges lapsed as free trade was introduced in the 19th century. (A similar, older Norwegian word is koupang.) (Source: Wikipedia)
City fires and reconstruction
Levanger has experienced a number of large city fires that has influenced the development of the city and how the city is today.
In 1692 most of Levanger was detroyed in a fire following a lightning strike on the Levanger Church.
In 1846, Levanger was again devasted by a catastrophic fire that practivally left the entire city in ashes. 110 houses was burned to the ground. Levanger got its first town plan after this big fire. It is still this town plan that largely characterises Levanger’s quarterly structure today. In 1897 a fire broke out at the town square. 104 of a total of 133 houses burned down. Only a few houses in the southern part of the city were saved. The farmers mobilised to save their dairy and succeeded. This also meant that the nearest neighbouring buildings were not burned down. Several of the buildings that were saved in the city fire in 1897 are still standing today. But it is especially the houses built after the fire and until the “Murtvangsloven” came into force in 1904, which characterise today’s cityscape.
The City Museum in Levanger
Through the City Museum in Levanger you can explore Levanger’s history, historic buildings and places. Several historic buildings, mainly from the period 1800-1900 are organised for visits.
The city museum also offers guided city walks.