The distinctive Rorbu cabins are one of the features of the Nordland coastline and particular to Lofoten. The cabins were originally basic accommodation for the Lofoten fishermen, built on poles partly out in the water.
The first Rorbu cabins in Lofoten were commissioned by King Øystein in 1120 as housing for the fishermen during the Lofoten fishing season. The cabins were simple structures, built on poles partly out in the sea and usually comprising two rooms: a storage room and a living room with beds. The storage room was used to store food and fishing equipment, and for preparations for a new day on the waters around Lofoten.
Many fishing villages gradually became densely built-up, with the red cabins – and fish processing buildings – dominating the townscape. Red fish-oil paint was the cheapest and most commonly used paint, but a different colour – ochre – gradually gained in popularity. The Rorbu cabins and the large number of racks for drying the fish create a special environment in the fishing villages of Lofoten.
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