Kristiansund – Capital of Bacalao

Kristiansund, named after the Danish-Norwegian king Christian VI, is beautifully spread out over four main islands: Nordlandet (nicknamed Marokko), Kirkelandet and Gomalandet and Innlandet (humorously called Tahiti). It’s good natural harbour and rich fishing grounds attracted settlers and Krististiansund developed into an important trading and fishing point.

Former wharehouse, now housing Klippfiskmuseet

With the introduction of clipfish production, Kristiansund became the largest exporter of clipfish in Norway, mainly to catholic countries such a Spain and Portugal. In contrast to the making of stockfish, e.g. on the Lofoten, where the cod is just hung on stocks outside to dry, clipfish is salted first and then laid out to dry on flat rocks by the seaside. Klippfisk literally meaning “rockfish”. Today, clipfish is pickled in large tanks and then dried indoors in specially designed drying tunnels. Including salt in the preservation process prolonged the clipfish’s shelf life, making it safe to last the length of the journey to the Mediterranean, where it was a much wanted produce by the catholic population. Clipfish is a major ingredient of Bacalao, a type of fish stew, and a very popular dish that derives from the custom of eating fish during Lent. Naturally, I had to try this speciality, which had been reimported to Norway. Almost every restaurant in Kristiansund offers Bacalao, each in different styles and it is worth to try several deviations.


More recently Kristiansund’s industry has moved to oil and gas production. Big oil companies operate their offshore platforms from here. However, due to low oil prizes, oil production has faced a serious crisis for some time now, not ony in the Norwegian Sea but around the world. Cost reduction resulted in mothballing unattractive oil fields and cutting jobs. Thus, one can currently see quite a few offshore platforms parked at Kristiansund.


As Kristiansund had been heavily bombed in WWII, destroying about 80% of the town, only few of the old wooden houses and traditional clipfish wharfs have survived. The city was quickly rebuilt with in a distinctive 50s and 60s style architecture, the house painted colourfully, giving Kristiansund its unique polychrome charme.

Cheerfully painted houses

I especially liked the old Mellemværftet, an old shipyard which serves partially as museum, but still operates as a ship building yard, mainly restoring historical boats.




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