Skansen is situated centrally and strategically on the water’s edge in the town of Tromsø, at the narrowest point of Tromsø sound. Skansen is a fortress site dating from the Middle Ages and the toll site was erected on this mound at the end of the eighteenth century.

The buildings that comprised the old customs house today lie partly up on the mound and partly at the water’s edge – all of them are built of timber materials between 1789 and about 1850. The buildings on the mound are today owned by Tromsø municipality and consist of the oldest main house, as well as labourers’ quarters, storehouse and a shack with an outside privy. By the water’s edge lie the buildings that are today owned and used by Stiftelsen Polarmuseet (the Polar Museum Foundation) – the customs house boat-house, the customs warehouse with quay and the customs site’s office building. Here, too, are the last remains of the original foreshore in the centre of Tromsø. Some people called this Møllerfjæra (the miller’s foreshore), named after a merchant who lived in the area during the nineteenth century
others call it Tollbodfjæra or Tollbufjæra (the customs house foreshore).

Skansen, together with the seven buildings forming the old customs site, became a listed building in 2000.