Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oslo street enters its 2nd millennium

When you visit Gamlebyen, an inner city area on Oslo's east end, you will find Saxegaardsgaten. It looks as any other street in this area, but it is in fact the oldest in Oslo, dating back at least to 1000 AD, or probably earlier. Then it was a pathway leading up from the old harbor to the early settlement that was to become the city of Oslo.

It was called Østre Strete during early medieval times. Later it was named after this building, now hidden behind scaffolding. Saxegaarden was built 200 years ago, but earlier there were two other houses on the site.

One medieval building that belonged to the noble Saxe family was built around 1200. It was also the residence of the powerful Bishops of Hamar before the Lutherans reformation. This building burnt down in 1624.

A second building stood on its foundations until the current was built. The basement of Saxegaarden dates back to the time when the first building was built on the site some 800 years ago. So here you are truly on historic ground.

The street, Østre Strete, may however be even older, dating back to the Viking Age or beyond. It is said to have been a pathway from the fjord up to the oldest part of Oslo.

Oslos coast line has until now been hidden due to the expanding city. Now the local authorities are working to restore it back to its former glory. This area is also the site of some of the most interesting remains of two old churches. I will return to these later.

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