Lillehammer panorama
Lillehammer by
Lillehammer kirke

History of Lillehammer

Lillehammer history 

The area has been settled since the Norwegian Iron Age.  It is mentioned in the old sagas at "Litlikaupangr" (the small trading place" and as "Litlihamarr" (the small Hamar) - to distinquish it from the town and bishopric of Hamar.  The farm that gave Lillehammer its name has always been called Hammer, as has the family that lived there.It is also mentioned as a site council in 1390.

Lillehammer had a lively market by the 1800s, and obtained rights as a merchant town on August 7, 1827, at which point there were 50 registered residents within its boundaries. 

Lillehammer a modern town with medieval skiing roots

Lillehammer was granted its town charter as recently as 1827. Nonetheless, its coat of arms bears witness to a stirring medieval deed that changed the course of Norwegian history.  

Lillehammers heraldic bearing, a Viking on skis, is the only coat of arms in the world to feature a skier. The skier dates from the early 13th century, when Norway was torn by civil war between the Baglere and Birkebeinere, who supported rival claimants to the Norwegian throne. 

Lillehammer town

The town of Lillehammer was established as a municipality January 1, 1838.  The rural municipality of Fåberg was merged with Lillehammer January 1, 1964. The town center is a well preserved late 19th century concentration of wooden houses, which enjoys a picturesque location overlooking the northern part of lake Mjøsa and the river Lågen surrounded by mountains.  The main street is excellent for people-watching, shopping and dining. 

The Olympic Winter Games

The Olympic Winter Games in 1994 that put the Lillehammer region on the international tourist map. The 1994 Games were extremely well organised and the Norwegian host' natural love of winter sports added a refreshing purity of spirit.

The Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer 1994 were a great success as major sports event, but also successful in the way that the Games created positive financial development in the region. 

Winter sports destination

Lillehammer is recognized as the oldest winter sports destination in Norway. The first mountain hotels in Norway were built at Nordseter and Sjusjøen in the 1930s and 1940s, and in the 1950s winter tourists from Denmark arrived by charter plane and landed on the frozen ice on Lake Mjøsa.  

Today Lillehammer offers a combination of traditions and modern-day attractions. Here you will find museums, galleries, Olympic facilities, unique restaurants and excellent shopping.  

The Lillehammer region

The Lillehammer region is also famous for the spectacular local ski terrain and the many local winter sports activities. Close proximity to Northern Europe's best cross-country mountains at Hafjell and Nordseter/Sjusjøen, with 350 km of ski trails and the short distance to the Hafjell Alpine Centre, makes the region an exciting and all-round travel destination.