Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Old Buildings in Oslo - a short tourist guide

Oslo was founded before the year 1000. Then it was located south east of the current centre of the city. Very little is left from medieval times. As much of the city was built in wood, it burned down several times. Most of the stone buildings of the city have been destroyed by war or simply decayed.

You can still find the remains of old Oslo in Gamlebyen (The old town). Take the tramline 18 direction Ljabru to Gamlebyen. Here you find the ruins of the St. Clemens and St Hallvard churches and remains of the old Bishops Castle.

Much of the Oslo you see today is the result of the Renaissance king Christian IV that moved the city closer to Akershus castle after a fire in 1624. He also renovated the castle itself and many of the buildings as you see it today goes back to his reign. He renamed Oslo to Christiania and Oslo got its old medieval name back as late as the 1920s.

Here are some of old the buildings in Oslo built before 1700.

Gamle Aker kirke (12th Century / 1850-1855 / 1861)


A church at Aker is mentioned around 1080, and the current buildings may be the church referred to. Other sources may date the building to the early 12th century.

The building is a Roman Basilica built in Lime-stone. 1186-1536 the church was owned by Nonneseter Monastery in Bergen.

The church was hit by lightning and burned down i 1703. And fell into disrepair. The church was reconstructed in the mid 19th century and a new tower was built by Schirmer og W. von Hanno in 1861. The interior was restored 1950–1955.

How to get there:
Take bus 54 direction Kjelsås stasjon. Leave at Telthusbakken. Go up the old charming road to the left, and you'll see the church at the top.

Oslo Ladegård (1579/1725)
(Image)

Oslo Ladegård was built on top of the old Bishops house from 1579. The site itself, however, contains remnants of buildings going back to around 1200.

The medieval buildings were abandoned in 1554, and it rapidly decayed. The mayor Christian Mule took over and built his house over the eastern wing of the medieval structure in 1579. It was in this house that King James I of England married princess Anne of Denmark in 1589.

Oslo Ladegård as you see it today is built in 1725. Lately the city of Oslo has reconstructed its baroque gardens.

How to get there:

Take tram line 18 – direction Ljabru / Holtet to Gamlebyen.

Rådmannsgården (1626 / 1782)


This house was built for Lauritz Hansen i 1626. It used to be much bigger. Rådmannsgården is built in two floors in imported dutch bricks. The wing facing Nedre Slottsgate was built in 1782.

The building used to house the library of the University of Oslo and has also been used by the garrison hospital. From 1937 it has housed Oslo Art Society.

How to get there:

Taket the tramline 12 from Oslo Central station direction Majorstuen to Christiania torv.

The Old City Hall (1641)


The Old City Hall has been altered several times. It used to have a tower that was torn down in the 18th century. The house was also damaged by fire in 1996 but has been reconstructed by the owner, the City of Oslo.

It was Christianias city hall from 1641 to 1733. It also housed the Norwegian supreme court from 1815-1846. A tavern was also situated in a side wing in 1850s. This restaurant moved into the main building in 1926. The original interior from 1926, designed by Hagbart and Carl Berner, was reconstructed after the fire in 1996. The restaurant is today called «Det Gamle Raadhus» (The Old City Hall.

From 1997 it has housed the Norwegian Theater Museum

How to get there:

Taket the tramline 12 from Oslo Central station direction Majorstuen to Christiania torv.

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