Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Arch episcopal Palace at Nidaros

The Arch episcopal Palace is located by the Nidaros cathedral. It consists of large stone buildings around a central square with a gate that could be closed for protection. It was the religious center of Norway for close to 350 years and has, like the Nidaros cathedral long and dramatic history.

Today it is the best preserved building of its kind in Norway. The oldest part of the complex goes back to the year 1200, to the time when the cathedral was under construction, and todays east wing was finished around 1220.

The west wing was completed during the reign of Archbishop Sigurd Eindridesson (archbishop 1231-1252), around 1250. It was archbishop Sigurd that started the construction of the Western facade of the cathedral based on English models. The rest of the complex, the north wing and a stone wall was completed at the end of the 13th century.

The palace has been ravaged by fires in 1295, 1532, 1708, and 1983. The fortress like character grew during the 15th century during the reign of Arch Bishop Gaute Ivarsson (1437-1510).

During the Lutheran reformation, the Palace became a Roman catholic stronghold under Arch Bishop Olav Engelbrektsson, that resisted the Danish kings. He built a large fortress at Steinviksholm in the middle of the Trondheimsfjord in 1525. The Palace was badly damaged by fire by the Danes in 1532 and bishop Olav had to flee the country in 1537. That was the end of Roman Catholicism in Norway.

From 1537 it was "Lensherren", the administrative head of the county, that resided in the palace and building work and alteration has continued up to the present day.

Today the Palace is the home of the Norwegian Royal Regalia. They are:

- The Royal Crown (1818) made in Stockholm by the goldsmith Olof Wihlborg
- Royal orb: made in Stockholm in 1818 by goldsmith Adolf Zehelius
Royal sceptre: made in Stockholm in 1818 by Zehelius of gilt silver.
- Anointment horn
: made in Stockholm in 1818 by Zethelius of gilt silver.
- Sword of the Realm: early 19th century. Possibly a gift from Napoleon I, to the future king of Sweden and Norway, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, when made Marshal of France.
-Queen’s crown: made in Stockholm in 1830 by goldsmith Erik Lundberg adorned with numerous gemstones (amethysts and topazes) and pearls.

- Queen’s orb: made in Stockholm in 1830
- Queen’s sceptre
: made in Stockholm in 1830
- Crown Prince’s coronet
: made in Norway in 1846

Sadly I was there too late too see the Norwegian Royal Regalia, but this is definitely on the program next time.

The Arch Bishops Palace bear a strong resemblance to its smaller counterpart at Hamar, that I have described earlier, but as the palace at Hamar fell into disrepair after the Reformation, the Palace at Trondheim was taken over by the secular government, that has secured its existence up to modern times. Even though it has undergone reconstruction in the mid 1950s, those that did the work managed to retain the spirit of the centuries that has formed this remarkable complex.

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