Monday, March 17, 2008

Saving Oslo's past

Oslo has a history going back 1000 years. Still very little is left from its earliest history, as most of the city has been built in wood. During the centuries fires ravaged the old city and its buildings were rebuilt - in wood. The few buildings made in stone were official and targets for armies, and what was left after the wars fell into decay. After the 14th fire in 1624 the history of Oslo changed direction.

Christian IV, the renaissance king of Denmark and Norway decided to move the city from what is known as Gamlebyen to the areas close to the old fortress in order to protect it from invaders. Another crucial decision was to rebuild it in bricks and stone to protect it against new fires.

There are quite a few buildings left from this period and I will present them here at Enjoy Food & Travel. They are located in what is known as Kvadraturen, the area close to Akershus Fortress. Today these buildings from Oslo's past are listed and protected.

Outside the Oslo's walls, people continued to build their houses in wood. Here much have disappeared and the same level of consciousness is not present to preserve them.

As this old building in St. Hallvardsgate. Built in wood, probably in the late 19th century it is left to decay by their owners. Sadly the reason is greed, as ground in the centre of the Norwegian capital is getting more and more expensive. People often wait until the house is beyond repair, and then torn down.

Some will say that this is a part of the city's life cycle, its renewal. That is probably true. Still in this way Oslo is getting poorer as its history is vanishing.

The same thing is happening with the houses of Grønlandsleiret 55-57. These houses are even older than the house in St. Hallvardsgate. Grønlandsleiret 55 is more than 200 years old, dating back to the 1700s. It was ravaged by fire in the year 2000, and these beautiful buildings are left to decay.

There are so few buildings left here. You have Grønlands bydelshus, where you find the old tavern Asylet. One of the buildings newly renovated in the Grønland basar complex is said to be from the 1780s. It angers me that no one takes the responsibility and saves these beautiful buildings from our past.

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