Thursday, April 03, 2008

Splendour through 3 centuries – Frogner Hovedgård

When you enter the Vigeland Sculpture park you are in the grounds of the old manor house at Frogner. Today this is one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in downtown Oslo, but when the current buildings were built 250 years ago, this was countryside. The manor, as you see it today goes back to the late 18th, early 19th century.

Frogner was one of the first farms to be settled in this area, and one of the largest. Its estate included much of the area visible from the farm, the current city area and Frognerseteren located on one of the highest hills in the Oslo area, close to the Holmenkollen ski jump complex. During Medieval times it belonged to the monastery at Hovedøya in the Oslo fjord, founded by the Cistercian Order in 1147. When Denmark-Norway adopted the new Lutheran religion in 1532 it was taken over by the king. During the chaotic 17th century, the King og Denmark-Norway lent money from the Dutch born Postmaster General Selius Marselis. As the king never paid back, Marselis kept the manor.

Until 1750 Frogner was a working farm. From then, it changed into a summer residence for members of the Norwegian social elite. In the mid 18th century Hans Jørgen Scheel changed the buildings into a Danish style manor house, and when the wealthy Bernt Anker bought Frogner Hovedgård in 1790 he gave the buildings the appearance they have today. A main half-timbered building with an enclosed courtyard. The industrialist Benjamin Wegner rebuilt some of the complex and added the tower.

The city of Kristiania took over the manor in 1896, and now it house the collections of city museum of Oslo. These collections are worthwhile seeing, and if you are hungry you may sit down in the little café, open from 11AM til 4 PM, or take a pint or two in the shade of the large trees at Herregårdskroen, a nice waterhole connected to the manor.

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