Many years ago we had visited Bergen and we both said we would like to explore the more northern part of Norway. Well that day had finally arrived with our leisurely arrival in Trondheim travelling along the scenic Trondheim Fjord. The city of Trondheim is the third largest city in Norway with a population of around 170,000. The city has a long history with a settlement being founded in 997 and Trondheim served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217.
Trondheim is also a popular spot for cruise ships and has we approached, one large cruise ship had already docked and there was one behind us. Near to the entrance is the small islet called Munkholmen which is now a popular tourist attraction. The islet has served in the past as a place of execution, a monastery, a fortress and a prison (presumably a sort of mini Alcatraz).
The ship berthed around a mile from the city centre and the walk took us amongst some of the picturesque wooden buildings that are a common feature in Trondheim. Our plan was to walk to the Kristiansten Fortress, which was built in 1681–1684 and is located on a hill east in Trondheim.
Arriving at Gamle Bybro (the Old Town Bridge) we crossed to make the ascent to the top, the climb was steep but relatively short. We noticed on the way the rather novel seats and the interesting bicycle lift that took riders up to the top.
The fortress was less of a castle but more of a fortified building at the top and other fortifications underneath the grassy top. The fortress repelled the invading Swedes in 1718, but was decommissioned in 1816. However it does have a grim side to its history, the fortress was used by the Nazi forces during World War II and 23 Norwegian resistance fighters were executed by the Nazi forces inside the fortress.
There is a few attractions inside the fortress but we were content to sit and enjoy the spectacular views over Trondheim and its surroundings, the fjord and the mountains.
Gradually we made our way back down the steep hill back to the Gamle Bybro (The Old Town Bridge) which was first built on this site in 1681 at the same time as the Kristiansten Fort was constructed.
Near to the bridge are the very picturesque historic wharves warehouses and boathouses that stand near the mouth of the Nidelva river. Less known than the ones in Bergen, the old wharf buildings have been preserved with the oldest dating back to the 18th century.
From the bridge we took the route along the old cobbled streets flanked by wooden buildings which are now shops, restaurants and bars to Nedre Elvehavn that has been recently redeveloped with a shopping centre which incorporated some of the old buildings, restaurants and bars.
Undoubtedly the main attraction in Trondheim is Nidaros Cathedral, the Cathedral is the world’s northernmost gothic cathedral. Built from 1070 over the tomb of St. Olav, the Viking king who brought Christianity to Norway, the cathedral was completed around 1300.
The cathedral is considered Northern Europe’s most important Christian pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages with pilgrimage routes leading to it from Oslo and many other places in Sweden, Norway and beyond.
The cathedral is part of a complex that also includes the Archbishop’s Palace and museum where you can see the Crown Regalia of Norway.
Also in the complex is the small but fascinating Armory and Resistance Museum, emphasizing Trondheim military history from Viking times up to the story of the Norwegian resistance in the Second World War.
Other places of interest include Vår Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady) which is one of Trondheim’s oldest buildings. Stiftsgården is the royal residence in Trondheim, originally constructed in 1774. At 140 rooms constituting 4,000 square metres (43,056 sq ft), it is possibly the largest wooden building in Northern Europe, and has been used by royals and their guests since 1800. There is a statue of Olav Tryggvason, the founder of Trondheim, in the city’s central square, which is now unfortunately surrounded by roadworks.
The small fish market is interesting not just for the variety of seafood but the rather eclectic collection of objects which included stuffed animals, old motors and other fishing memorabilia.
Walking back to the ship we came across a marina that was holding a show with plenty of people looking at strange old engines. Even stranger in the docks area was an alleyway in which the artists were working on large pieces of street art.
Trondheim is a fascinating place to visit in a stunning location, many of the sights you can see in a day but it would also be a useful base to explore more of the incredible natural features around this part of Norway.
As well as the major attractions, the city is fascinating to walk around with lots of picturesque wooden buildings and quirky little shops hiding away in basements and narrow alleys.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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