Grimstad ( listen ) is a town and municipality in Aust-Agder county, Norway. It belongs to the geographical region of Sorlandet. The administrative center of the municipality is the town of Grimstad. Other notable places in Grimstad include Eide, Fevik, Fjaere, Landvik, Prestegardskogen, Reddal, and Roresanden.
It is a little maritime town set among many small islands (Skjaergard). There is a harbor, a long pedestrian shopping street, a small market square, a church, and a museum dedicated to the early life of Henrik Ibsen, who served as an apprentice to Grimstad’s local pharmacist Reimann, from 1844 to 1847, before leaving Grimstad in 1850. Ibsens intimate knowledge of the local people and surroundings can be seen in his poem Terje Vigen.
Grimstad lies within the boundaries of the ancient parish of Fjaere. It is reportedly first mentioned as a harbor in the 16th century. Eight years after he was deposed, Christian II of Denmark–Norway (1513–1523) attempted to recover his kingdoms. A tempest scattered his fleet off the Norwegian coast, and on 24 October 1531, they took refuge at Grimstad. On 1 July 1532, he surrendered to his rival, King Frederick I of Denmark, in exchange for a promise of safe conduct. King Frederick failed to honor his promise and imprisoned Christian until he died.
An inn is recorded at Grimstad as early as 1607. In 1622, Grimstad became a recognized harbor. By 1747, Grimstad was identified as a sailing community and a recognized haunt of smugglers.
During the Napoleonic Wars, England blockaded Norway. In 1811, an English brig entered the harbor to capture blockade runners, but was vigorously repulsed and did not return.
John Frederik Classen, who owned the Frolands Vaerk (an ironworks), obtained concessions to export and import through Grimstad and bypass Arendal with its customs dues. Grimstad was awarded market town status in 1816.
Grimstad is a coastal municipality in Aust-Agder county bordering on the Skagerrak. The municipality is bordered by Arendal in the east, Froland and Birkenes in the north, and Lillesand in the west. The lakes Syndle and Rore are found in the northern part of the municipality. Landviksvannet and Reddalsvannet lakes are found in the southern part of the municipality, near Reddal.
The Maritime Museum (accessible by boat trip), the comprehensive City Museum and the Norwegian Horticultural Museum, are all popular among tourists, as are the wealth of exhibitions and concerts that the town hosts. The town is also a popular destination for summer vacationers, and supports a robust shopping milieu during the Christmas season.
During summer, Grimstad plays host to the Norwegian Short Film Festival, which attracts film enthusiasts from far and near. Another popular attraction is the Agder Teater at Fjaereheia, an open-air stage located in a disused stone quarry. Shopping is also available in Oddensenteret along the harbour. (The view from Oddensenteret is seen in the panorama photo above.)