Akershus Fortress began its life as a castle/fortress combination in the 13th century and was altered several times. Sometimes, it was more of a Royal Palace, sometimes more like a military defense structure. The renaissance palace which forms a big part of the complex, dates back to the 17th century. In the 19th century and during the years of Nazi occupation, it was used as a prison as well. A group of 42 members of the Norwegian resistance against the nazis was excecuted here during the time of Nazi occupation. A memorial dedicated to them is on the castle grounds.
Although used more for traditional, administrative and ceremonial purposes than for real military activities, it is well guarded, comparable to a Royal Palace. That includes a change of guards as well. You are free to roam the grounds during daytime. For a low entry fee, some buildings, including the former Royal Appartments and several halls, are open to the public as well. You will find here the burial places of medeival Norwegian kings, including Hakon Magnusson who oversaw the construction of the fortress. The Royal Mausoleum contains also all the deceased kings since Norway's independence in 1905. All of these have limited opening times, please check the website for actual details on that. There are even guided tours in English and Norwegian.
Even if you do not visit all the historic buildings, you can still enjoy the grounds and get an excellent view over the harbour of Oslo.
The fortress overlooking the bay leading to the Oslo downtown area is impressive and well reconstructed. Maybe the renovation part was a bit overzealous since the general feeling is of lack of spirit. This handicap aside it offers magnificent views of the bay and royal life as it used to be. There is even a tomb inside of some glorious ex-king probably of foreign blood considering the 600 year dependence of the country on strangers to provide guidance and solace. There is particular detail in one of the rooms that would make anybody’s day, given he/she is into the history of application of religion. The piece is a sort of alter, for royal use, that has very graphical explanation of the hierarchy on land and sky. At the top the name of the Saviour has been written in Hebrew, a bit awkward approach, and directly underneath is the crown, most likely the Danish one, a bit awkward situation! The message is unequivocal – the fellow with the crown is the closest one to God himself and his power is untouchable. He is punishable only by God, most likely for sins towards Him not towards king’s subjects. The scenario is favorite one amongst the European royalty club and even extends world-wide; do not mess with the status quo. Brilliant rendition!
We had a wonderful view of the Fortress from the high decks on the Ship. It was because of this, we decided to leave the Fortress to last, and if we had time, we would visit. It turned out we ran out of time, but I wasn't disappointed, as seeing it from the outside really was enough for me.
In 1299, this was a medieval castle and royal residence which became a fortress in 1592, after which it was rebuilt into a renaissance castle 1637-1648.
We had the Oslo card, and the description of Akershus Castle stated "magnificent halls, the Akershus Castle church, the Royal Mausoleum, models of the castle, the government's reception rooms and banquet halls", all to be seen.
OPENING HOURS....MAY - AUGUST
Sunday 12 -4PM.... Monday - Saturday 10 -4pm
ADMISSION PRICES.......Adults 70nok Children 30nok
FREE ADMISSION WITH OSLO PASS
From 1652 King Fredrik III decided that criminals convicted of "petty larceny" should do some heavy labour at the fortress... kind of like slavery. Be executed or become a slave and live. It was later called The Slavery.
In 1842 there were 530 prisoners at the fortress, imagine that! All of them were men, there were no women prisoners here.
During the Nazi occupation there was a German military prison here. In 1950 the prison was closed down.
Many of the buildings behind the castle belonged to the Slavery.
As you enter the castle you walk straight down into a narrow corridor and into the dungeon area and mausoleum. I didn´t quite expect this and was a bit taken aback, seeing I was the only one there. Here are 4 prison cells dating back to the 17th century.
Down in the Mausoleum are buried King Hakon Magnusson (king from 1299-1319), who built the Akershus fortress, and his queen Eufemia of Rugen (queen from 1299-1312). They were both buried in Mariakirken church, but were moved to Akershus in 1982.
Also buried here is King Sigurd Jorsalfarer "The Crusader" (king from 1103-1130). He was buried in Hallvardskirken wall and moved to Akershus slottskirke church in 1957.
And in the Royal Mausoleum are buried King Haakon VII (1872-1957), Queen Maud (1869-1938), King Olav V (1903-1991) and the crown princess Martha (1901-1954).
The Akerhus castle and fortress dates back to 1299 and was built by King Haakon V Magnusson. It was originally built as a fortified castle to defend Oslo. It was remodelled to a renaissance castle by in the 1600s by King Christian IV and the bastion fortress was built. And later rebuilt in 1905-1962.
The ball rooms are still used by the government for some important State events and representations, so at times the castle is not open to public.
I visited it in June and there were whole classrooms waiting outside with me at 9:30 in the morning, but the castle opens up at 10:00. So I kind of hurried through it as not to be stuck with a group of young kids ;) Plus a bus full of Japanese. I was the first one in and had to castle almost to myself the whole time - and lived to regret it when the first stop was the dungeon and the Mausoleum ;)
Some parts of the fortress were used as a prison.
The gardens and ground around the castle are open until from 6-21h (the main gate) and one can get a map at the museum shop. From here is a fantastic view of the Oslo fjord and Aker brygge.
There is Changing of the Guards every day at 13:30 behind the castle.
Opening hours: In the summer time from Monday-Saturday from 10-16 and Sundays from 12-16. In the winter time the castle is only open weekends from 12-17.
Admission fee: NOK 70.
The next two rooms are the Margrethe Hall and the Hall of King Olav V. I add these room into one tip as it was impossible to take good photos in the Hall of King Olav V.
The Margrethe Hall is a big room, obviously used by the Government, both as a court room and for dinners. It is the oldest part of the castle. It used to be a living room for the court members.
Queen Margrethe I (1353-1412) was a Danish born who married Haakon VI of Norway in the 1300s. She was later to become the Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and took a part in the Kalmar union.
The Hall of Olav V is the part of the castle which is believed to have been the great hall of the
medieval castle. It was restored in the 1900s.
The next room is the Romerike Hall. I didn´t understand the name and what it had to do with Rome, but then read that the room is named after peasants of the Romerike area north of Oslo. These peasants repaired this wing of the castle after a fire in 1527 - they are said to hunt the place. I was alone in the castle and didn´t feel at all good about being there - so I kind of hurried through it... way too many ghost stories here and dungeons and stuff ;)
There is a big dining table in this room, as it is used for representations of the Government. The table can seat up to 180 people! But this room was the office of the Governor of Norway in the 17th century. He was the representative of the Danish kings who ruled the country back then.
There is some beautiful tapestry in this room.
After leaving The Hall of Christian IV one walks into the Prince´s Chamber and the Green Chamber, very lovely rooms with such beautiful furniture. I was surprised when walking through this room that there were no beds here, but later read that the castle is furnished to suit as Gorvernment representation rooms, so no beds are needed ;) So the beautiful furniture in these two rooms are from the 16th and 17th century.
These rooms were part of the Royal apartments which later became the Hall of Christian IV. I love the upholstery of the chairs here.
After leaving the chapel and before you reach the Hall of Christian IV one has to walk through the east wing through some dark corridors with lovely furniture and Norwegian bridal tapestry from the 17th century. There is lovely tapestry all over the castle. I kind of got a little lost in the castle, getting allergies from the dust in there. But there were signs which guide one in which directions to go when one reaches a "dead end".
The Hall of Christian IV is - in my opinion - the most beautiful part of the castle, seeing that I love baroque (it is in Nordic baroque style). There is some beautiful furniture here and the most valuable items in the castle are the three tapestries on the north wall. They are exquisite, from the 17th century and come from Brussels.
The Hall of Christian IV used to be divided into many small rooms, which were private rooms for the Kings and queens. King Christian IV was the most famous of these kings and was named after him.
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