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With more than 80,000 residents, Kristiansand is the largest city in southern Norway. Thanks to outstanding ferry and airline connections, for many visitors this is the gateway to Norway. Kristiansand was established in 1641 by the Danish-Norwegian King Christian IV, who wanted to create a new support centre for trade on the southern Norwegian coast. The stone houses in the old town provide a somewhat atypical city appearance for Norway. After a devastating fire in 1892, the rebuilding of conventional wooden houses was not permitted. Kristiansand is known as the Norwegian city of flowers: in the summer, thousands of flowers throughout the city delight the residents and visitors alike. But Kristiansand has much more to offer than these to magnificent blossoms. Not far from the main road connecting Kristiansand and Lillesand is Hamresanden with its three kilometre long beach. A bit farther east, animal lovers of all ages will enjoy one of southern Norway's greatest attractions, the Kristiansand Zoo (Dyrepark). Every year in July the Quart Music Festival is held, bringing in popular bands from Norway and abroad. As the cultural centre of Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder counties, Kristiansand is home to numerous other cultural highlights, museums, festivals and public celebrations.
Tip for a day trip: Lillesand, just 20 kilometres away, is a village right out of a picture book with white painted houses in an idyllic location on the sea.