Historical and old photos of Kongsvinger, Innlandet
Kongsvinger already existed as a trading center by the Middle Ages, due to the accessibility by natural waterways. Viking chieftains reached Sweden by boat from Kongsvinger. Kongsvinger fortress was founded in 1669, and a star-shaped plan was laid out for the fortress. Work began in 1682 and it was finished in 1690 as part of a general upgrade to Norwegian fortresses. The building of the fortress formed the foundations for what was to become the town of Kongsvinger. The fortress was built as a defensive structure against the Swedes, and on numerous occasions there have been military engagements in the area around the fortress, but Kongsvinger fortress has never been taken in military combat. Below Kongsvinger fortress lies Øvrebyen, which literally translated means Uppertown. This is the oldest part of the town of Kongsvinger, and one can still find a number of the original houses built after the establishment of the fortress. Kongsvinger Museum is located here, together with a museum of female emancipation in a building called "Rolighed", the home of Dagny Juel, the famous author once portrayed by Edvard Munch. Øvrebyen was designated as an area of special antiquarian interest in 1973. Today, Øvrebyen, the old uptown area around the fortress is dominated by wooden buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, laid out in the typical right angle square plan - by architect Cicignon - popular in this period.
The eastern parts of Kongsvinger and its neighboring municipalities to the north and south were populated at the end of the 17th century by Finnish emigrants who came across the Swedish border. The area is called Finnskogen, "The Finnish forest".
Kongsvinger played an important part in the Norwegian resistance force against the Nazis being a gateway to Sweden. Norway's highest decorated citizen, Gunnar Sønsteby frequently passed through Kongsvinger in his work to sabotage the Nazis' installations in Norway. Some of the busiest escape routes for refugees also went through Kongsvinger to Sweden.
In 1964, Kongsvinger and the surrounding municipalities of Vinger and Brandval were united into the present Kongsvinger Municipality. Kongsvinger has city status (from 1854), and is thereby both city and township, governed by a town council under a mayor, elected by popular vote. There are also appointed executive officials, such as town commissioner or town director (rådmann), who is chief executive of the municipality, and its 700 plus workforce. There are 1,530 businesses including forestry and farming, and 245 of these are retail outlets. There are 25,000 square metres (269,098 sq ft) of mall situated in the downtown area. As well as downtown shopping streets, there are also glass domed pedestrian shopping streets. The governmental regional hospital is also situated in Kongsvinger.
From 1983 to 1999, and again in 2010, Kongsvinger's soccer team KIL Toppfotball held a position in the Norwegian Premier League. It made some notable merits participating in the UEFA Cup and winning a silver medal during the 1992 season.