Home What's Telelaget?     MembershipStevne       Contact Us

advanced search
Emigrant Database
Research Assistance
In Search Of...
Points of Interest
Telemark, Norway
History & Traditions
Pioneers & Settlements
"To America" Series
For Sale...
Related Links
Member Websites
The Digitalarkivet
Telemark Heritage
På Norsk
Telemark Historielag
Find us on Facebook!
Telelaget of America
Telemark Heritage
International Telemark
Norwegian Genealogy

Skien Skien Kommune

Pop. 51,359; Area 722 sq. km. (279 sq. mi.)

Extensive archeological excavations have shown that Skien is the only city in Norway which has been continuously inhabited from the Viking Age toSkien's Location in Telemark modern times. The city was granted a Royal Charter in 1358 but it's history goes back to 900 A.D. The city lies where the watershed from the Hardanger Moors and northern Telemark runs out into the Skien Fjord. This has made it a natural exchange point for goods for and from inland Telemark. The name "Skien" comes from the brook "Skida" that used to run through the town. The coat of arms is derived from the earliest known seal of the city, dating back to 1609.  The central cross is made from two ski poles, and the six-point star in the middle of the cross may be a symbol of the Virgin May.  The cross is flanked by a pair of skis, and meadow buttercups take the outside positions on the red background. 

A convent was established on the island of Gimsøy in the early 1100s and the nuns were successful businesswomen. Timber and lumber products have always been important to the city's economy. At one time it was Norway's most important lumbering city. Henrik Ibsen recalled his birthplace, Skien, as "the city of sawblades and waterfalls." Other famous natives of Skien include the statesman A. M. Schweigaard and the historian P. A. Munch. There are several locations with bronze age rock carvings near Skien.  Skien has been razed by fires to a greater extent than any other Norwegian medieval town. The last major city fire was in 1886 after which the center of town was rebuilt. The architecture of Skien is typical for the turn of the century but the neighborhood of Snipetorp, just east of the town center, contains many 17th and 18th century buildings. Skien is the capital of Telemark and the center for the county's administration. It includes the districts of Gjerpen, Solum and Skien.


Sights to See

Skien Street sceneThe Historical Museum of Telemark is in Brekke Park to the east of town and its exhibits include period furniture ranging from the Renaissance to the Victorian Age. A special section honors the dramatist Henrik Ibsen.

"Gjerpen Church on the northern outskirts of Skien is a romanesque stone church built in the 1100's. A glass mosaic altarpiece by Norwegian artist Emanuel Vigeland was added in 1920.

Ibsen House is Skien's cultural center with a large theater, exhibition and concert halls, the city library, a youth center and discoteque, meeting rooms, and a restaurant.

Ibsen's summer home and later permanent residence, Venstøp, is in Gjerpen about 3 miles north of the center of Skien. The farmhouse is furnished with objects owned by the Ibsen family.

The church ruins at Kapitelberget are the foremost remaining monument to the mighty Dag-family of medieval Skien. The ruins of this medieval crypt church are believed to have been built during the 1100's.

Playland (Lekeland) is a family amusement/activity park.

Loveid Canal at Skotfoss join the Norsjø with the river to the sea and has 3 lock chambers built in 1854-60.

St. Michael's Cave is on a mountainside overlooking Lake Norsjø and was a Catholic place of worship. It's use as a church dates back to before the Reformation. A graveyard is supposed to have been built on the mountaintop above the cave. The cave has inspired many stories and legends.

Solum Church was built in 1766 with a framework of logs with rococo-style paneling on the inside and outside.

Skien Church was first mentioned in a document dating from 1297. Churches on this site were burnt in 1582, 1652, 1771, and 1886. The present building is a neo-gothic structure built in 1894. The church is the largest in Telemark, and is easily recognized by its two steeples. ized by its two steeples. The organ is among the largest in the country.

Maehlum Church, a timber built church, was constructed in 1728. The altarpiece dates back to 1618.

Kjempåsen (Giant's Ridge) is a hill fort from the migration age, 400-600 A.D. The fort and the remains of its stone walls are a historic site. It is just north of the Elstrømbrua (Elstrøm Bridge).


Telelaget Genealogy

Telelaget's Volunteer Genealogists for Skien

Emigrant Ancestor Database: Skien

Submit your emigrant ancestor information


Bygdebøker for Skien

What's a Bygdebøk?

  • Byminner. Utg. Selskapet for Skien Bys vel. 1/1961- .

  • Seierstad, Ivar, og Einar Østvedt. Skiens historie. Skien kommune.

  • Bd. I. Fra 1184 til ca. 1814. 1958.

  • Bd. II. Fra 1814 til ca. 1870. 1958.

  • Bd. III. Fra 1870 til ca. 1925. 1959.


  • Gjone, Toralv. Solum bygds historie. Skien: Solum Kommune/Br¢drene Kjoer Boktrykkeri.

  • Bd. I. þBygdehistorieþ. 1965.

  • Bd. II. Gårdshistorie. 1962.

  • Solum historielag. Årsskrift. 1/1950-


Norwegian Language

Official Skien kommune Website

Holla Website

Skien Historical Society


English Language

Skien Genealogy


Submit Content

If you would like to add a link, submit photos of an historic site, or we've missed an important landmark you'd like to have listed in "Sights to See,"  please email!

Top of Page
Previous Page

Copyright © 2009-2017     
This page was last updated Saturday December 31, 2016 22:28:14 -0600