At the heart of sunny Kristiansand, in the middle of the city center, lies Kristiansand Cathedral. It is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city.
Kristiansand Cathedral is among the biggest churches in Norway, with its 60 metre length, 38,7 metre width and 70 metre bell tower.
The present cathedral is the fourth church built on this site. Shortly after Kristiansand was founded in 1641, a simple, wooden trinity church was built. The episcopal see was moved from Stavanger to Kristiansand in 1682, and a new cathedral was consecrated in 1696. Following a fire in 1734, a new cathedral was completed in 1738, but destroyed by a fire that affected the whole city in 1880.
The present day cathedral was consecrated in 1885. This Neo-Gothic cathedral was designed by architect Henrik Thrap-Meyer, who also designed Victoria Terrasse in Oslo, currently the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To re-use some of the narrow walls of the previous cathedral, a narrow part of the new cathedral; the altar, was positioned in the west end, rather than in the traditional position in the east. Thus, the main entrance of the new cathedral faced the east and was easily accessible from the town square. However, favoring such practicalities rather than the religious symbolism, was quite uncommon.
The altarpiece depicts the resurrected Jesus meeting the two disciples in Emmaus, as described in Luke 24, 13-15, and was painted by famous Norwegian painter Eilif Peterssen.
The stained glass windows were created in 1932-1934 by Karl Kristiansen (1886-1971), who was Emmanuel Vigeland’s apprentice and associate.
During World War II, when the Nazi German attack on Kristiansand took place early in the morning of 9 April 1940, the 70-metre cathedral tower was hit by an artillery shell, which damaged the upper part. This was however quickly repaired.