The olympic city
The Olympic Winter Games in 1994 put the Lillehammer region on the international map.
Located at the northern end of Norway's largest lake, Lake Mjøsa, 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.
A wide-ranging selection of musical and theatrical performances, and not least all the many festivals and sporting events, are the basis for a dynamic and invigorating atmosphere in the centre of town. But the Lillehammer area is also known for its peaceful and beautiful rural landscapes, which are ideal for skiing, hiking and other sport activities.
Lillehammer's strong traditions in art, music and literature, along with its exhibitions, have acted as a premise for municipal planning. A number of cultural institutions and organizations are to be found in the town: Maihaugen, Lillehammer Art Museum, Nansen School, Lillehammer University College, Banken Cultural Centre, Lillehammer Art Association, Oppland Art Centre, and Fåberg and Lillehammer History Association.
For more than 100 years, many of the country's foremost artists have either visited or lived in Lillehammer. The town and its surrounding landscape have provided a meeting place and an artistic motive.
The spring and summer seasons offer a wide variety of musical and theatrical experiences. The Norwegian festival of literature, the "Sigrid Undset Festival", in May, and several performances at Maihaugen throughout the summer, are just some of the many cultural events in Lillehammer.
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.
In the ethymology of Norwegian placenames, hammer comes from Old Norse hamarr or crag.
In the Middle Ages, there were two farms on Lake Mjøsa with the name Hammer around which settlements grew. These became known as Lillehammer (Little Hammer) and Storhamar/Hamar (Big Hammer). The farm that gave Lillehammer its name has always been called Hammer, as has the family that lived there.