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Fredrikstad, Norway

Fredrikstad straddles the Giomma River where it enters the Skagerrak near the mouth of the Oslofjord in Eastern Norway, not far from the Swedish border. The town was founded in 1567 by the Danish King Frederik II. The Old Town section, located on the eastern bank of the river, is one of Northern Europe’s best-preserved fortified towns, surrounded by a star-shaped earthworks and moat. The town was long an important timber port and shipbuilding center. Its cobbled streets and well-kept old buildings lend it a charm that attracts visitors, especially in the summer season. The town’s brick Gothic Revival cathedral, crowned by a copper spire, boasts stained glass windows designed by Emanuel Vigeland, the brother of the sculptor Gustav whose monumental works grace the famous island park in Oslo.

The Frederikstad Museum offers insights into the town and surrounding Østfold region. A Model Railway Museum also attract aficionados with a huge 1:87 scale landscape operating 30 trains. Further afield, the childhood home of the polar explorer Roald Amundsen now hosts a museum with the nostalgic appeal of a bygone era of Norwegian suburban life.