30km (19 miles) S of Fredrikstad; 144km (89 miles) S of Oslo; 2km (1 1/4 miles) W of Swedish border
Halden lies at the Iddefjord in the far southeasterly corner of Østfold, bisected by the Tista River and hemmed in by forested hills. The town of 27,000 people makes an idyllic stopover for those touring the eastern bank of the Oslofjord. If you have time for only one stopover, make it Fredrikstad, as it has more attractions. But if time is available, head for Halden, especially on a summer day when yachties from Oslo fill its pretty little picture-postcard harbor.
Historically, Halden was a frontier outpost that was heavily fortified to fend off attacks by the Swedes. It was -- and still is -- known for Fredriksten fortress, where Norwegian patriots successfully held off Sweden's frequent attacks from the east. These regional fighters made a bold decision in 1659. To drive out the attacking Swedes, they set fire to their own town. The Swedes retreated, although the fortress withstood the siege and the town fire. Attacked by the Swedes again in 1716, the townspeople of Halden once again torched their city to halt the Swedish advance into Norway. These incidents, along with numerous fires set by Mother Nature, gave the town its nickname: "The Burning City."
Today a prosperous little border town, Halden has the dubious distinction of being the site of the country's oldest nuclear power station. In 1959, nuclear energy was introduced here to fuel regional wood-based industries. It is now used for research purposes only.