Trondheim, Norway – The City with a Heart

My regular readers know I was there last weekend and I’ve promised you a guided trip as always when traveling, domestic or abroad, so here we go:
Trondheim, or Nidaros, is an old city in the mid or centre of Norway. A university dominates the town; its more than 25.000 students add to Trondheim’s 160.000 inhabitants and the resulting economy fuels many local businesses. The city is the oldest of Norway’s major and its old heritage can still be traced in and around the city centre. The most famous is of course the marvelous Nidaros Cathedral, the largest church of Northern Europe, so lets start there:

King Olav Haraldsson was buried by Nidelven, the river Nid, after he was killed in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. Tradition has it that the high Altar of the Cathedral now stands on the exact spot of this burial site. One year and five days after he died the King was declared a saint, and pilgrims began to flock to Nidaros and the King’s grave. Here is the outside of the Altar where you can see his face sculptured at the bottom:

When restoration of the West Front started about 100 years ago only a handful of the original sculptures had survived. Most of today’s sculptures have therefore been modeled and cut during the 1900s. Have a look:

Trondheim was – contrary to common belief – not so much a center for Vikings but the religious center of northern Europe in the middle Ages and a vital hub for North-Atlantic trade thus giving the town plentiful of characteristic mansions and harbor houses. The inhabitants like to call their town the historical, the religious and the technology capital of Norway. So let’s go take a look at one of the other churches:

This church is the sole medieval parish church to survive the Reformation and the many town fires. One the east wall off the choir is an inspiration telling that the church was dedicated to St Mary and was build by Bjørn Sigvardssson. In the middle Ages, Trondheim had 5 monasteries and up to 17 churches, about half of which where parish churches. Most of these, and the Dominican Monastery, stood in the southern part of the medieval town, like this church. This implies that the population was densest in this part of the town.

The city celebrated its 1000-years anniversary as an official city in 1997. For centuries Trondheim was the northernmost trading city in European civilization, giving it a special “edge-of-the-world” feeling. Its status as a mercantile town also resulted in a more open-hearted, international culture than many other Scandinavian cities at the time, which indeed it has protected. Here you see a picture from the town square with Olav Trygvason on top of the pedestal:

The city boasts a rich, cultural heritage, but is still a major center. Even if the size is modest, there’s a lot going on in Trondheim. Music, arts, culture, alternative politics, nightlife, student life… all combines into making Trondheim one of the most exciting city centers of Northern Europe. The buildings of medieval Trondheim were mostly small low timber houses and fires all to often ravaged the town. A disastrous fire in 1681 destroyed most of the buildings, and Major Jean Caspar de Cicignon from Luxembourg was sent to create a new Baroque city layout. Several narrow alleyways have, however, survived to our time and form a marked contrast to Cicignon’s boulevards from the 17th century. We had a guided tour when there, so I’ll give you some examples:

Still wants to know more about this City with a Heart? Check Wikipedia or their official tourist guide site.
For those who wants more and from a different point of view; please visit my blog friend TorAa who was there at the same time – at your own risk:-)

A bit tired after the guided tour and want something to drink? Scroll down and have some of the most Viking like refreshment – the beer and even from a local brewery!

This post has become a part of this years Lifecruisers Cyber Cruise – what an honor!