Oslo, Norway – One

Since it was founded around 1000 AD, Oslo spent centuries under the rule of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. It embraces its history while emerging as the capital city of Norway. Oslo typically ranks among the best places to live in Europe.

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1 Sailboat Floating in Oslo Fjord in Oslo, Norway

This boat is peacefully sailing in the Oslofjord inlet. This area of the Bjørvika neighborhood once was a container harbor. It has undergone significant redevelopment since 2000. Seen next to the sail is the mouth of the Akersela river. Behind it is a row of high-rises along Dronning Eufemias gate. They are collectively called the Barcode Project. The first of the five glass towers opened in 2008. They are predominately office space with some apartments. On the left is the impressive Oslo Opera House.

Sørengkaia 103, 0194 Oslo, Norway
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2 National Opera House in Oslo, Norway

The Oslo Opera House was built in 2007 with reflective glass, La Facciata marble and white granite to give it the appearance of an iceberg floating in the Oslofjord inlet. The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet conduct over 300 performances a year in the 1,300 seat capacity auditorium and additional stages. It is a beautiful centerpiece to the growing arts and cultural district that is being developed along the Bjørvika waterfront.

Flagstads Plass 1, 0150 Oslo, Norway
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3 Domus Bibliotheca Law Library at University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway

The original campus for the University of Oslo, which was founded in 1811, was in the center of the city. Most of their facilities have moved to their Blindern campus but their Faculty of Law has remained behind. The Law Library is in Domus Bibliotheca. It contains research and reference materials on Scandinavian, German and international law. Although its collection is designed to serve the university’s students and staff, it is publically available for anyone.

Europarettsbiblioteket Karl Johans gate 47, 0162 Oslo, Norway
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4 Domus Media at University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway

Domus Media is the most impressive of the three buildings that constitute the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. Its neoclassical design resembles an imposing Greek or Roman Temple. Built in the mid-19th century, it now houses lecture halls and offices for law professors. It was also the venue for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize from 1947 until 1989.

Europarettsbiblioteket Karl Johans gate 47, 0162 Oslo, Norway
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5 Trafikanten Tower in Oslo, Norway

The Trafikanten Tower stands tall in the center of Jernbanetorget square in Oslo’s center city called Sentrum. At the base of the glass clock tower there are is a tourist and transportation information office. A few steps away are the Sentralstasjon, the city’s central train station, and the Byporten which is a large shopping mall.

Jernbanetorget 1, 0154 Oslo, Norway
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6 The Tiger Statue in Oslo, Norway

Oslo’s nickname is Tigerstaden or The Tiger City. In 2000, residents wanted to celebrate their millennium in grand fashion. Part of the ceremonies was erecting this 14.8 foot bronze statue by Elena Engelsen in the Jernbanetorget square in front of the Oslo Central Station. Tigeren has become a favorite among tourists and locals. Sometimes the fierce sculpture can scare even the bravest of little boys.

Jernbanetorget, 0154 Oslo, Norway
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7 Tjuvholmen Peninsula From Oslo Fjord in Oslo, Norway

Sailing along the Oslo Fjord gives you the best view of the Tjuvholmen neighborhood and its eclectic collection of architecture. In the foreground is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. The green space is an outdoor sculpture park. The modern buildings in the background are primarily apartments. They were constructed from 2005 through 2014 as part of the Utsyn initiative (which means View) by the Fjord City urban renewal project. The supervising architect was Niels Torp. During the second half of the 20th century, this 82 acre peninsula was the location for commercial docks and a shipyard. Before then, this land was used to hang drunks and thieves. This is how the area got its name: “tjuv” means thief and “holme” is an islet.

Strandpromenaden 2, 0252 Oslo, Norway
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8 Olivia Restaurant at Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

The Olivia Italian restaurant is an example of the approximate 40 eateries, bars and nightclubs along the Pipervika waterfront at Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen. It is housed in one of the old mechanical workshops of Akers Mekaniske Verksted. They were a major Norwegian shipyard from 1841 until they closed in 1982. This red brick Verkstedhallen building is also part of the Aker Brygge shopping center which contains about 50 stores.

Brygge Stranden 3, 0250 Oslo, Norway
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9 Lighthouse Along Strandon at Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

This lighthouse stands along a pedestrian walkway called Strandon which means Beach. It is the main boardwalk facing the Pipevika harbor in the Aker Brygge district. Locals and tourists flock to this area for its shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Another favorite pastime is to leisurely look over the waterfront while licking a Mövenpick ice cream cone.

Bella Bua Stranden 7, 0250 Oslo, Norway
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10 Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

This exquisite building served as a railway station called Oslo Vestbanestasjon from 1872 until it closed in 1989 when all trains were rerouted to the new Oslo Sentralstasjon. After a significant renovation, it reopened as the Nobel Peace Center in 2005. The Nobels Fredssenter is a museum that traces its history from the posthumous trust established in 1896 by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, to the present day. Another Nobel Museum is located in Stockholm, Sweden.

Brynjulf Bulls plass 1, 0250 Oslo, Norway
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11 Karl Johans Gate in Oslo, Norway

Karl Johans gate is one of the primary pedestrian boulevards in Oslo. This west portion was constructed in the late 1840s in order to connect the inner city with the Royal Place seen in the background. On the left is the Storting, Norway’s Parliament building. Prior to 1852, this street was called Østre Gade. Then it was renamed in honor of Karl Johan who was the King of both Norway and Sweden from 1818 until 1844.

Karl Johans gate 22 0159 Oslo, Norway
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12 Storting Parliament Building in Oslo, Norway

Towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars and during the Treaty of Keil in 1814, Denmark agreed to cede Norway. This gave the Norwegians the opportunity to establish their own parliament. May 17th, Syttende Mai, is still celebrated as Norwegian Constitution Day. However, a few months later during the Convention of Moss, they were forced into a Swedish union and were technically ruled by Charles XIII of Sweden. One of the conditions was they were allowed to maintain many provisions of their new constitution. So the parliament proceeded to meet in temporary facilities until the Storting building was finished in 1866.

Karl Johans gate 22, 0026 Oslo, Norway
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13 Norwegian Royal Palace Close Up View in Oslo, Norway

Since 1849, the Norwegian Royal Palace has been the residence of the country’s king, queen and royal family. Det Kongelige Slott is also where most of the monarch’s work is conducted and the venue for receiving guests. Guided tours of about a dozen of the 173 rooms are available during the summer. The Royal Palace is protected 24/7 by sentries who are part of the King’s Guard.

Slottsplassen 1, 0010 Oslo, Norway
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14 King Charles III John Equestrian Statue in Oslo, Norway

Jean Bernadotte was born in France in 1763 and served as an accomplished military leader under Napoléon Bonaparte until he was given the opportunity to succeed Charles XIII who died without an heir. In 1818, he became the Swedish monarch (Charles XIV John) as well as the King of Norway (Charles III John) and ruled until his death in 1844. An interesting side note is that Karl III Johan could not speak either Swedish or Norwegian. This bronze equestrian statue by Brynjulf Bergslien was erected in front of the Royal Palace in 1875.

Johan Henrik Ibsens gate 1, 10 Oslo, Norway
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15 Changing of the Guards at Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway

Tourists love watching the pomp and circumstance associated with the changing of the guard and visitors to Oslo are no different. The event often starts at Akershus Fortress at 1:10 when the King’s Guard march down the boulevard called Karl Johans gate. Other days they simply emerge from behind the Royal Palace at 1:30. The ceremony lasts about 40 minutes and is conducted in two phases so make sure you stick around for the second part. Interestingly, members of the Royal Guard are not soldiers. Instead, they are young Norwegians who are assigned this duty as part of their one-year mandatory service.

Slottsplassen 1, 0010 Oslo, Norway
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16 Children Walking in Row at Palace Park in Oslo, Norway

This row of young children are walking single file around one of three ponds located inside of Palace Park, a 54 acre green space that surrounds the Royal Palace. Slottsparken was constructed in the early-19th century around the same time that Det Kongelige Slott was built. This inviting public space has groves of huge trees, plenty of grassy areas, six statues, flower beds, creeks and footbridges.

Slottsplassen 1, 0010 Oslo, Norway
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17 Landmarks Along Pipervika Harbor in Oslo, Norway

The Pipervika small boat harbor defines the waterfront of downtown Oslo. Several landmarks are visible looking left to right. The apartment buildings in the recently developed Tjuvholmen neighborhood. The Aker Brygge entertainment and shopping area. The Radisson Blue Plaza Hotel which, at 384 feet, is the city’s tallest building. The twin towers of City Hall. And forming the eastern shoreline of this harbor but not shown in this photo is the Akershus Fortress.

Strandpromenaden 2, 0252 Oslo, Norway
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18 Astronomical Clock at City Hall in Oslo, Norway

On one of City Hall’s two brick towers is a huge, fairly non-descript clock. What makes the east tower special is the carillon. The bells provide a delightful song every hour and extended concerts on summer Sundays and the first Wednesday of every month. What I found far more interesting, however, was this astronomical clock. It graces the west tower facing the northern or main entrance of the brick building. It displays the time, month, position of the moon and sun plus the zodiac signs.

Rådhusplassen 1, 0037 Oslo, Norway
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19 Frieze Above Entrance of City Hall in Oslo, Norway

Above the main entrance of the Oslo City Hall is this gorgeous frieze. The reliefs exhibit Norwegians in everyday activities such as building, farming, fishing, heavy labor, dancing, commerce, etc. The Nordic etchings carved in stone grace the second story baloney. When you walk inside you’ll find more permanent art including huge murals by Henrik Sørensens. The Oslo Rådhus also hosts the Town Hall Gallery. This is a rotating exhibition of works by contemporary artists. This 1950 building, which was voted the city’s “Structure of the Century,” houses the municipal offices and the City Council.

Rådhusplassen 1, 0037 Oslo, Norway
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20 Oslo Cathedral at Stortorvet Square in Oslo, Norway

The Oslo Domkirke is the city’s third cathedral since the early 12th century. This stunning Church of Norway was commissioned by Christian IV in 1632. It was completed at Stortorvet square in 1697. Guided tours of the cathedral are available by pre-booking but admission is free every day to look around and pray. If you are visiting Oslo during July and August, consider attending one of the organ concerts that are held every Saturday.

Karl Johans gate 11, 0154 Oslo, Norway
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21 Olav Thon Gruppen in Oslo, Norway

If you are Norwegian, you are familiar with the name on the top of this building: Olav Thon Gruppen. It is a conglomerate owned by Olav Thon, a billionaire and the country’s richest person. This entrepreneur was born into a farming family in 1923 and 90 years later he owned over 450 properties including hotels, shopping centers, commercial and residential properties and other businesses. At the end of 2013, he announced that the majority of his wealth is now in trust to a foundation he formed to focus on medical science.

Karl Johans gate 25, 0159 Oslo, Norway
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22 Frogner Park Bridge in Oslo, Norway

58 bronze statues by artist Gustav Vigeland adorn both sides of this pedestrian bridge in Frogner Park. It stretches 328 feet from the entrance of Frognerparken to the enormous water fountain in the center. In the background you can see the Monolith Plateau. The stairs on this platform lead you to the Monolith, a granite tower that is a stylistic totem pole.

Sinnataggen 0268 Oslo, Norway
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23 Water Fountain at Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway

This elevated view from the Monolith Plateau shows the water fountain with sixty reliefs in the center of Vigeland Park and the bridge that leads to its front gate. In the background is the town of Frogner. It is part of a very exclusive borough of Oslo by the same name. The tall bell tower belongs to the Uranienborg Church.

Vigeland Park Nobels gate 32, 0268 Oslo, Norway
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24 History of Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway

This ensemble of bronze statues is a small sample of what you will see at Frogner Park. The location of the sculpture garden derives its name from a manor that was built here in 1750 by Major Hans Jacob Scheel. After the sprawling estate exchanged hands several times, it was sold to the city. It is now famous for its outdoor display of over 200 larger-than-life bronze and granite sculptures called the Vigeland Installation. It took Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland nearly 20 years – from 1921 until he died in 1943 – to create these artworks. The Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement is the world’s largest collection of sculptures by a single artist in the world.

Sinnataggen 0268 Oslo, Norway
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25 Playwrights Names Engraved on National Theater in Oslo, Norway

There are three names engraved above the entry of the National Theater. Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright who is considered the father of realism. Ludvig Holberg, an 18th century author who is often called the founder of Norwegian and Danish literature. Finally Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1903, wrote the Norwegian National Anthem and was a political activist. Plays by each of these great men were performed on the first three nights when Nationaltheatret opened in 1899.

Johanne Dybwads plass 1, 0161 Oslo, Norway
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26 View of Akershus Fortress from Oslo Fjord in Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress was built along the coastline of the Oslo Fjord around 1299 as a defense against sea and land invasions. Akershus Festning successfully repelled at least six attacks by Swedish, Danish and Scottish soldiers from 1308 through the 16th century. The citadel was only surrendered in 1940 when Germany invaded Norway during WWII. The Germans used the big building on the right, called the Akershus National Penitentiary, as a military prison. Further on the right is the Crown Prince’s Powder Magazine Tower (circa 1755). It was used by the Nazis as death row for Norwegian Resistance fighters. The castle was liberated in 1945. Akershus Fortress is surrounded by Crown Prince’s Bastion, a stone wall that was finished circa 1618.

Akershus Castle Church 0150 Oslo, Norway
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27 Powder Magazine at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway

During the early 17th century, Christian IV, who was the King of Denmark and Norway, ordered the expansion of the Akershus Castle and reconfigured it into its current renaissance style. He died in 1648, nine years before the castle’s Skarpenord’s Powder Magazine was completed. So embedded above the archway is the monogram of his second eldest son, Frederik III, King of Denmark. The Great Powder Magazine was an armory used to store gunpowder and other weapons. Look closely at the two sandstone reliefs. These mirrored faces are Hannibal Sehested. He was the Governor-general of Norway in the mid-17th century before resigning after charges of embezzlement. He later regained favor with Frederick III by negotiating the Treaty of Copenhagen which restored peaceful relations among Sweden, Denmark and Norway. These carvings were originally created for his unfinished mansion.

Akershus Fortress 0150 Oslo, Norway
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28 Hall of Christian IV at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway

This floor of the Akershus Castle served as the private apartments for Danish and Norwegian kings dating back to the 1600s. It was later remodeled into one large room designed in a Nordic baroque style. Decorations include furniture, rugs and tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries. It is called the Hall of Christian IV in honor of Denmark’s longest reigning monarch. He was also the King of Norway from 1588 until 1648.

Akershus Castle Church 0150 Oslo, Norway
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29 Dyna Light in Oslo Fjord near Oslo, Norway

Dyna Light is perched on a stone islet resembling a ship bow. Its lantern, which reaches a height of 40.5 feet, looks like a church steeple except it contains a fog horn instead of a bell. This navigational beacon was built in 1875 about 220 yards off the Bygdøy coastline. This is a couple miles away from Oslo. When Dyna Fyr was renovated in 1992, its white wooden keeper’s house was converted into a banquet and special event facility. However, it is still an active lighthouse.

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