What is a visit to Norway without seeing impressive and breathtaking castles, mansions and fortresses? This is one of the best highlights from a Norwegian trip. Aside from the fascinating and picturesque view of these castles, most hold historical significance as they date as far back as the 13th century. If you can’t visit all, we have compiled a few of them you should visit on your next Scandinavia trip.
Akershus Castle is a medieval castle situated in the center of Oslo, Norway’s capital. Built by King Hakon V in 1299, the castle originally served as a military base to protect the city. It also served as a prison for lawbreakers at some point in its history. The castle was, however, modernized and converted into a renaissance castle and royal residence during the reign of King Christian IV (1588-1644). Today, the fortress has become a popular venue for public events, concerts and ceremonies.
Join any guided tours to look around the fortress, especially the banquet halls, the Royal Mausoleum, where Norwegian royal figures are laid to rest, and the government’s reception room. Do make sure to visit the small, historic church situated there too.
The Royal Palace
Being one of Norway’s most important and symbolic buildings, trust the Royal Palace of Oslo to make the list. Because why not? Located at the end of Oslo’s main thoroughfare, Karl Johans gate, the 19th-century majestic building, was built in 1985 but did not become officially in use until 1849. The palace was originally used as the Norwegian residence of King Charles XIV.
The Royal Palace houses the King and Queen. It is also where the monarchy discharges its duties while presiding over the Council of State, granting audiences and holding official dinners. The Palace is surrounded by the Royal Palace park comprising tall trees, small ponds and statues
During summer, the palace is open to the public. Join a guided tour available to show you around the dozen rooms making up the palace. Make sure to visit King Hakon VIII’s suite, the Council Chamber, the Palace Chapel and the banquet hall.
You should jump on a train from Oslo to Bergen to see one of the most famous castles in Europe, the Gamlehaugen castle. This splendid Renaissance castle was constructed in 1901 in the Scottish architectural style. The castle rooms and halls are also decked out with neo-renaissance and baroque decor. Even with the various renovations and expansions, the castle has undergone, it still maintains its impressive architectural design.
The Gamlehaugen castle doubles as Bergen’s royal residence and has many interesting nooks to explore. Unlike the Royal Palace in Oslo, the castle is accessible to the public all year round, so you can visit anytime. Visit places like the library, music room, and dungeon. You can also climb to the castle’s roof to have an aerial view of the surroundings.
Fritzøehus is a private estate located in Larvik. Owned by the Treschow family, it is reputed to be the largest private residence in Norway, with a total of 75 rooms and 21 basement rooms. The estate was designed by Jacob Wilhelm Nordan in the Renaissance revival architecture style. This estate easily matches many modern mansions and castles despite being built over 150 years ago.
Fritzøehus is located in Fritzøehus park, an over 1700 acres of land designated conservation site to preserve expanded beech forests and unique landscapes. Alongside the estate, the park also houses a water foundation, a bear statute made by Anne Grimdalen, and trees like walnut and spruce trees. It also shelters a collection of mouflons and fallow deer in the Mediterranean.
Bergenhus Fortress is one of the oldest and best-preserved stone fortifications in Norway. Some parts of the fortress were built as far back as the 1240s. The three-storey building was built of stone, mostly massive coursed rubble, but with corners, windows and doors in ashlar.
The fortress has undergone renovations over the years following a probable fire accident in 1266. The most important buildings in the fortress are Haakon’s hall, a medieval stone hall, and the Rosenkrantz Tower, a medieval tower containing dungeons and residential rooms for the governor.
This fortress was originally built to resist attacks from the sea. However, to withstand attacks over land, the fortress was extended in 1890 with gun batteries placed on both sides of the fjord. Oscarsborg fortress would later be regarded as the strongest fortification in northern Europe having a defensive line that stretches 10km from the Heer.
The fortress serves more as a recreational centre today. It also houses a museum that presents the history of the fortress. It is a place to be for lovers of history, culture and nature, especially in summer.
The unique surrounding of the fortress is a good place for a theatre, opera or concert during summer.
These are just a few of the impressive castles in Norway. There are many more you can visit if your travel schedule permits. Make sure you know the history behind each of these castles. It will make you appreciate them even more.