STAVANGER —Each city has this one place, loudly and lively, full of people and always something is going on. For Stavanger this place is Arneageren square, place with importance in history conveyed in the present.
Placed right in the city centre, Arneageren square is with considerable importance for the inhabitants in the city. Between the years of 1274 and 1303 on the very same place a bishop called Arne had his field, cultivating herbs. This is how the square receives its name, Arne`s aker in norwegian or in other words Aren`s field.
Aside from its history, today the square is very much alive and the one place mostly used for a meeting point. Mostly known among young people, on the square are also located Stavanger Culture Centre which includes the city`s Library, The Norwegian Children Museum, cinema, Art galery and a so called culture cafe. All this diverse ativities and places make Arneageren one of the most popular places in Stavanger. Or at least that is what I was told, which is why I was surprised to find out that actually there is nothing that much special. May be, this what “special” is for a small town as Stavanger. The place is strategic place for various political and religious organisations which spread their leaflets there, and the simple reason for their choice to do it exactly there is the fact that this is where there are so many people. To find a different, than mine, point of view and understand what is special about the place, I talked with a woman working in the city library, placed on the square.
Carolyn Fjeld, a librarian from the city`s Library, opened up the curtains about the square`s history in the past but she also shares her opinion about its significance today.
“So the story of the square dates from the time of Arne`s field, although uncomfired but there are some guesses that in the Middle Ages the place was occupied by a Martin`s church. I don`t think this is the reason why various religion organisations spread their leaflets here, and yet we are not sure about the existence of this Martin`s church.”
Mrs. Fjeld, who works in the library for several years, opening an old book about the history of Stavanger and the square in particular, showing an old picture of the square, explains that the first buildings around the square started to be build in 1840s. The Solvberget Kulturhus, itself, was built in 1987 and this year turned 25 years of its existance. Carolyn Fjeld also explains about the old cinema on the square, which exists there since 1927 and is now connected to seven new cinema halls and three more are in a project.
“There are several projects in progress, for further developing of the square. After all it is a very important part of the city and contains wide range of different activities. Solvberget, the gallery, the cinema , they are all the key to the succesful cultural life we all are trying to develop in the city.” (
Except Arneageren square, the city has another square, Millenium square. Placed right next to the city harbour, Millenium square was popular because of its market. However, exactly because of tis location the square became less and less used. Because of the sloped area and the strong wind from the harbour the market has been replaced. And here is where Arneageren takes place. Soon after the market changes its place on the Arneageren square and ever since then the place becomes more and more alive and visited.
It seems that the square has been much more significant place in the past than it is in the present. Or may be these are just unfullfiled expectations of mine. It is true that Stavanger is a small town and there is surely somethign special about it but not exactly its central square. With an interesting story in the past and futured plans in progress may be Arneageren square will turn out to be a little bit more exciting for visitors and tourist. People say you cannot have future if you do not have history. Well, Arneageren, you have a history, hopefully any time soon in the future, people will be able to tell your story better in vision. Here is what has been shared to me by a Stavanger inhabitant sitting in a sunny day, sitting in the outdoors of a cafe on the sqaure. Her name is Rita Larsen, mother of a 16 years old daughter.
” On a sunny day like this, that is the place where you would rather come and have coffee with a friend or with familly. It is not much going on in fact here but you can still enjoy a cup of coffee”
Rita also told me about this outdoors concerts on the square, which make it more entartainig at times. However good weather is not so common for Norway and Stavanger in particular, so may be with some indoors activity on the square the place would be more popular for tourist. I would not think that if you are a tourist, you would go at the city library, places on the sqaure, and read, right?
Through history and in present times, known also as the Heart of Stavanger, Arneageren square is the most common meeting point of the city and apparently a crushing point of the city`s cultural developement. Unfortunately the ” Heart of Stavanger” does not have a heart of an excitement.
The team of “CulTour” Magazine will further follow the story of this heartless heart.