Oslo, the capitol of Norway. About 20% of the country´s population (850,000) live in Greater Oslo. One of the oldest Scandinavian capitals, Oslo has never been on the mainstream European tourist circuit. Many have the impression that it´s lean on historic and cultural sights. In fact, it offers enough sights and activities to fill at least 3 or 4 busy days. It”s also the starting point for many easy excursions along the Oslofjord or to nearby towns and villages.
In the ´90s Oslo has grown surprisingly from what even the Scandinavians considered a backwater to one of the glittering cities of Europe. Restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, shopping complexes, and other places have opened. A Nordic joie de vivre permeates the city. The only problem is that Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Proceed with caution if you”re on a strict budget. Oslo was founded in the mid-11th century by a Viking king, and became the capital around 1300 under Haakon V. In the course of its history, the city burned down several times; it was destroyed by fire in 1824.
The master builder, Christian IV, king of Denmark and Norway, ordered the town rebuilt near the Akershus Castle. He named the new town Christiania (after himself), and that was its official name until 1924, when the city reverted to its former name. In 1814 Norway separated from Denmark and united with Sweden, a union that lasted until 1905. During that period the Royal Palace, the House of Parliament, the old university, the National Theater, and the National Gallery were built.
After the Second World War, Oslo grew to 175 square miles. Today it´s one of the 10 largest world capitals in area. Oslo is also one of the most heavily forested cities, with fewer than half a million inhabitants. One final point: Oslovians love nature. They devote much time to pursuits in the forests and on the fjords. It takes only half an hour by tram to go from the Royal Palace to the 390-foot Tryvann Observation Tower, where you can enjoy a view over Oslo Marka, the giant forest. The Krogskogen forest was the setting for many Norwegian folk tales about princesses, kings, penniless heroes, and the inevitable forest trolls. From this observation tower in the summer, you can look down on hundreds of sailboats, motorboats, and windsurfers among the numerous islands of the Oslo archipelago.
Oslo is made for walking – in fact, you can walk from the Central Station all the way to the Royal Palace (Slottet) in a straight line. Except for excursions to the museum-loaded Bygdøy peninsula and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, most attractions can be covered on foot. Oslo is not neatly divided into separate neighborhoods or districts. It consists mainly of central Oslo, with the Central Station to the east of the city center and the Royal Palace to the west. Karl Johans Gate, the principal street, connects these two points. There are almost 50 museums and galleries in central Oslo, enough to fill many a rainy day. The most interesting include Akershus Castle, the Historical Museum, and the National Gallery.
The streets Drammensveien and Frognerveien lead northwest to Frogner Park (whose main entrance is on Kirkeveien). This historical area is the site of the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which displays some masterpieces of Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943). Another hot tip is the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, a well-kept secret at Slemdal. The main attraction is a room completely covered with frescoes, which is a type of mural.
The Old Town (or Gamlebyen) lies south of the Parliament Building (the Stortinget) and Karl Johans Gate. This section contains some of the city´s old-fashioned restaurants, along with the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the Old Town Hall.
Aker Brygge is Oslo´s newest neighborhood. It emerged near the mouth of the Oslofjord in the old wharf area formerly used for shipbuilding yards. Fueled by oil wealth, steel-and-glass buildings now rise from what had been a relatively dilapidated section. Some of the best shops, theaters, restaurants, and cultural attractions are here, along with apartments for such well-heeled owners.
The main attractions in eastern Oslo are the Botanisk Hage (Botanic Garden), the Zoological Museum, and the Munch Museum in Tøyen.
To the west of Oslo, 4 miles by car but better reached by car ferry, is the Bygdøy peninsula. There you´ll find such attractions as the Norwegian Folk Museum, the Viking ship Museum, the polar ship Fram Museum, and the Kon-Tiki Museum.
Many Oslo neighborhoods lie along the Oslofjord, which stretches more than 60 miles north from the Skagerrak to Oslo, and is filled with basins dotted with islands. (There are 40 islands in the immediate Oslo archipelago.)
Nearly all visitors want to see Holmenkollen, a wooded range of hills northwest of the city rising to about 1,740 feet. You can reach it in 35 minutes by electric train from the city center. Marka, Oslo´s forest, is a sprawling recreation area that offers hiking, bicycle riding, skiing, fishing, wild berry picking, jogging trails, and more. It contains 343 lakes, 310 miles of ski trails, 387 miles of trails and roads, 11 sports chalets, and 24 ski jumps and alpine slopes.
Some would be happy to come to Oslo just for the views of the harborfront city and the Oslofjord. Panoramas are a major attraction, especially the one from Tryvannstårnet, a 390-foot observation tower atop 1,900-foot-high Tryvann Hill in the outlying area. Many other attractions are worthy of your time and exploration, too. The beautiful surroundings make these sights even more appealing.
YME and Svean on the Paleet, Luck Oslo, Vincci and Hevn are some of Oslo’s coolest shops on fashion. In addition, you should check out Flykicks, Hunting Lodge and Dapper. The EGER Karl Johan department store is a fashion parade, and Oslo Fashion District also offers the streets of Prinsens Gate, Upper Castle Street and Lower Castle Street at the major, renowned international fashion houses.
Second hand and vintage you will find at MA Vintage at Briskeby with clothes, shoes and accessories from big fashion houses. At Grünerløkka you can visit Velouria Vintage, which has everything from Chanel bags and Levi’s pants to band t-shirts. Fretex Unika has a wide range of handpicked items for a good price.
FOOD – RESTAURANTS – DRINKS
If you are a coffee maker, you can go for a walk = Coffee in Akersgata 32, a coffee shop that is located in Oslo. Here you get good service and you help to provide disadvantaged and addicted to a worthwhile job. Supreme Roastworks is the place for those who want quality coffee served by award winning barists. If you are not a big coffee drinker, you will find the city’s best cocoa in the Bristol Hotel’s Library Bar. Looking for something sweet? Then you should head for Talor & Jørgen on Youngstorget for delicious donuts.
When you get ready for lunch, the Vippa is the place to visit, Oslo’s new food store mecca. Here you can eat good and sour and taste food from different continents – from the Middle East and Asia to South America.
For dinner you can go for the French cuisine at Le Benjamin, Spanish snacks at Bon Lío or exciting and unpredictable taste combinations at the Pjoltergeist.
To end the evening, have a drink at Torggata Botaniske, Himkok and Abelone.
Oslo city´s reference point is 59° 55″N 10°45″E, as far north as, for example, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, the northerly part of Kamchatka, Anchorage in Alaska and Kap Farvel in Greenland. Its area covers 454 km2 (175 sq miles), of which 242 km2 (93 sq miles) are forest, 8 km2 (3 sq miles) parkland and recreational areas, 40 islands and 343 inland lakes.
Even though the city is situated so far north, its climate is temperate in the autumn and warm in spring and summer. There is usually snow 3 to 5 months of the winter, and skiing conditions are good in the hills around Oslo between December and April. From May to July the weather can be quite warm with long periods of sunshine. Drought can also occur from time to time. This is due to Oslo´s northerIy position, well protected by the mountains from Atlantic rainfall, and favourable help from the Gulf Stream. Statistically speaking, Oslo is Scandinavia”s sunniest capital.
HOLIDAY, SPORTAND LEISURE
Oslo is surrounded by forest and fjord. An important part of the city´s political tradition is to preserve the fjord and the area surrounding the city for leisure and outdoor pursuits. Oslomarka is used by thousands of skiers and hikers all the year round thanks to restrictions in the urbanization of the city. Some of the major sports events in Oslo will be the Grete Waitz Race, the Holmenkollen Relay, Oslo Marathon and the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. Oslo is a ski-eldorado with over 2,000 km (1250 miles) of prepared ski tracks for cross-country skiing and many ski lifts for alpine skiing. The tracks are also used throughout the rest of the year: Bærumsmarka, Nordmarka and Østmarka are all places where many people meet every weekend.
In the 8th century a settlement was built right at the top of the Oslo Fjord. This little Norwegian village grew rapidly during Viking times: agriculture, trade and ship building were important commercial activities, and Oslo has truly earned its title of “Viking Capital”. Oslo was founded long after the town had been developed by the Vikings. lt was not until 1048 that Harald Hardråde (half brother of St.Olav – Norway´s patron saint) discovered that Oslo was a thriving community with a port and agriculture. The founding of the city took place in the turbulent period between the Viking Age and Norway´s Catholic Middle Ages. Many remnants and ruins can be found from Ancient Oslo in the Memorial Park.
The city has a fascinating, interesting and dramatic history. Oslo”s population was substantially reduced during the time of the Black Death in 1348 which claimed over 50% of the inhabitants. This epidemic also had political consequences for Norway, which became reduced to a province of Denmark. During this period Copenhagen was the actual capital of Norway. Oslo was also greatly affected by the Lutheran Protestant Reformation of 1537, with religious conflicts, political separation from the Catholic Church and the foundation of a Protestant National Church.
Many ruins of churches and monasteries (forexample the Cistercian Abbey on Hovedøya) bear witness to this process. Oslo was completely destroyed by fire in 1624, which was purported to have been started deliberately by four witches. The Renaissance King, Christian IV of Denmark and Norway, decided to move Oslo from what we today call the Old Town, and rebuild it under the protective shadow of Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning). Following intense renewal and advanced town planning in the spirit of the Renaissance, a completely new city was created and named Christiania in 1624.
After l814 Norway was united with Sweden, and Christiania experienced very strong economic and political growth with substantial expansion right up until the dissolution of the union with Sweden and independence in l905. After the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Christiania in 1924, it was decided that the original name of Oslo was to be re-instated as of January 1925.
PLACE OF INTEREST
The Royal Palace, The Akershus Fortress, Norway´s Resistance Museum, the Prison Museum, the Armed Forces Museum, Holmenkollen, Ski Museum, Aker Brygge, the Opera House in Bjørvika, the Central Station, the Ekeberg Park, the Ekebergrestaurant, Oslo Cathedral, the City Hall, the University Building, the Nobel Institute, the Nobel Peace Center, the Historical Museum, the National Gallery, the National Theatre, the Astrup Fearnly Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Children´s Art Museum, the Ibsen Museum, the Parliamant Building, the Munch Museum, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Vigeland Museum, the Botanic Garden, the Zoological Museum, the Norwegian Folk Museum, the Viking Ship Museum, the Polar Fram Museum, the Kon-Tiki / Ra Museum, the Minibottle gallery, Grünerløkka, the Henie Onstad Art Center outside Oslo in Sandvika.
MUSEUMS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
At Akershus Fortress portrays the dramatic occupation years during the Second World War. The invasion, resistance efforts and liberation. A historical, fascinating and important museum.
Norwegian Maritime Museum
Next to Fram and Kon-Tiki on Bygdøynes, you will find Norwegian Maritime Museum (Norsk Sjøfartsmuseum), an encyclopaedia of Norwegian maritime tradition sailing boats old-fashioned ships, hundreds of models of ships right from Viking times up to the present day slide-shows and films.
The adventure museums on the tip of Bygdøynes. Polar and tropical expeditions that have altered our view of world history. Kon-Tiki is a world-famous balsa/log raft. In 1947, the young Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl and five comrades sailed it from Callao, Peru, to Raroia, Polynesia (4,300 miles).
This museum contains the sturdy polar exploration ship Fram, which Fridtjof Nansen sailed across the Arctic (1893-96). The vessel was later used by the famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole (1911).
At Tøyen is devoted to the expressionist Edvard Munch, who used his own feelings – joy, fear, humour and jealousy – in order to reach a better understanding of life. His work can also be found in the National Gallery,the University and the City Hall. The Museum often houses conserts and special exhibitions.
In 1994 Oslo opened a museum to honor its most famous writer. Henrik lbsen lived in an apartment within walking distance of the National Theater from 1895 until his death in 1906. Here he wrote two of his most famous plays, John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken. The museum curators have tried to re-create the apartment (a longtime exhibit at the Norwegian Folk Museum) as authentically as possible.
Provides one with a complere understanding of Norwegian art and consolidates Norways place in art history Large classical international colection.
One of Europe´s largest outdoor museums, showing Norwegian traditions and culture. From all over Norway, 140 original buildings have been transported and reassembled on 35 acres on the Bygdøy peninsula. This open-air folk museum, one of the oldest of its kind, includes a number of medieval buildings.
Inside, the museum´s 225,000 exhibits capture every imaginable facet of Norwegian life, past and present. Furniture, household utensils, clothing, woven fabrics, and tapestries are on display, along with fine examples of rose painting and wood carving. Also look for the outstanding exhibit on Norway´s Lapp population.
Children´s Art Museum
See the world through children”s eyes in the museum that presents children”s art from 180 countries.
Altemating exhibitions display Norwegian and international paintings from the post-war period until today.
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