Saturday, May 24, 2008

From times of war

I have told several stories of war here on Enjoy Food & Travel. The peaceful Scandinavia of today is an exception rather than the rule. Today the Scandinavian democracies are among the most successful in the whole world. However, only 70 years have passed since the German occupation of Norway and Denmark. There are several sights from times of war in Oslo, and at least two points to turbulent times of the 17th and 18th century.

Of the four present Nordic countries there were historically two winners and two losers. Denmark and Sweden established themselves as the dominant independent powers during the 14th and 15th century, and from their capitals, Copenhagen and Stockholm they each took control over Norway and Finland. Whereas the Swedes had to keep the Russians away from Finland, the Danes had to deal with the Swedes that attacked Norway over and over again along its long border with Sweden.

Den Gamle Krigsskolen (1640)

At Tollbodgaten 10 you find one of the few old stately homes left in downtown Oslo. This is a house going back to the times of the thirty years war that lasted from 1618-1648. The oldest part of this building was built in 1640 by chancellor Jens Ågesson Bielke (1580-1659). He came from an exceptionally wealthy family and owned properties as the Austråt palace north of Trondheim and Tøyen manor. In 1763 it was extended by Caspar Herman Storm. In 1802 the house was given by the squire Bernt Anker to the Norwegian Army to serve as Military Academy.

A two hundred and fifty year old battleground

Dronningens gate 15 used to be the main postoffice of Oslo. This massive stone building was built 1914-1924, on the spot where Departementsgården once stood. It was in Departementsgården that Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament assembled from its start in 1814. In the wall of old building that faced Akershus fortress there was a cannonball fired from the fortress in 1716 to drive away the advancing Swedish army led by Karl XII, the warrior king. The king had to draw back, and the cannonball was left as a reminder of the battle.

When the new Post office was built in 1924 the cannonball was taken out and placed on its exact location in the wall of the new building.

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