Cathedrals in Norway

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral is the most important Christian cathedral in Norway. It was built over the burial site of Saint Olaf, the king of Norway in the 11th century, who became the patron saint of the nation. It is the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway and the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. Nidaros Cathedral was built beginning in 1070 to memorialize the burial place of Olaf II of N ...
Founded: 1070-1300 | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral, formerly Our Savior"s Church, is the main church for the Oslo bishopric of the Church of Norway, as well as the parish church for downtown Oslo. The present building dates from 1694-1697. It is the third cathedral in Oslo. The first, Hallvards Cathedral, was built by King Sigurd I of Norway in the first half of the 12th century, and was located by the Old Bishop"s Palace, some 1.5 kilometers east ...
Founded: 1694-1697 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger Cathedral is Norway"s oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cath ...
Founded: c. 1100-1150 | Location: Stavanger, Norway

Bergen Cathedral

Bergen Cathedral was first time mentioned in 1181. It retains its ancient dedication to St. Olaf. During the reign of king Haakon IV of Norway, a Franciscan friary was established near the church, then known as Olavskirken, or the church of Saint Olaf, which was incorporated in it. The church burned down in 1248 and again in 1270, but was reconstructed after both fires. In 1463, it burned down again, but this time it was ...
Founded: 1181 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Tromsø Cathedral

Tromsø Cathedral is the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland in the Church of Norway. This cathedral is notable since it is the only Norwegian cathedral made of wood. The church is built in Gothic revival style, with the church tower and main entrance on the west front. It is probably the northernmost Protestant cathedral in the world. With over 600 seats, it is one of Norway"s biggest wooden ...
Founded: 1861 | Location: Tromsø, Norway

Kristiansand Cathedral

Kristiansand Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Agder and Telemark in the Church of Norway. It is a Neo-Gothic church completed in 1885 and designed by the architect Henrik Thrap-Meyer. It is the third cathedral built in the town of Kristiansand and one of the largest cathedrals in Norway. The cathedral is 70m long and 39m wide, and the only tower is 70m high. Originally the cathedral had 2,029 seats and room for 1,21 ...
Founded: 1885 | Location: Kristiansand, Norway

St. Olav's Cathedral

St. Olav"s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo. At the time of construction, this church, being built at Hammersborg, near the graveyard of Our Saviour, was located in the countryside outside the then city of Oslo. The work was funded by private donations and fundraising abroad, the most generous individual donor being Queen Josephine, who was a Catholic herself. The first mass of the ch ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Hamar Cathedral

Hamar Cathedral was erected as a result of Hamar achieving city status in 1849 and re-emerged as an independent diocese two years later. Noting rapid growth and the need for a diocese to cover areas of eastern Norway, the Church of Norway established the seat for the newly formed diocese of Norway in Hamar in 1864. The architect for the cathedral was Heinrich Ernst Schirmer, the local general contractor was Herman Frang. ...
Founded: 1849 | Location: Hamar, Norway

Fredrikstad Cathedral

Fredrikstad Cathedral was designed by architect Ferdinand Waldemar Lühr to be a parish church. It was built between 1879 and 1880 in the Gothic style of brick, with a longitudinal plan in the form of a Latin cross. It has a single tower of 72 m in height at the western end, which is part of the main facade. It was consecrated on 13 October 1880, when it was known as Fredrikstad Vestre kirke. The church was restored ...
Founded: 1879-1880 | Location: Fredrikstad, Norway

Hamar Cathedral Ruins

Bishop Arnaldur (1124-52) returned to Norway in 1150 from Gardar, Greenland and was appointed first Bishop of Hamar. He began to build the cathedral, which was completed about the time of Bishop Paul (1232-52). Bishop Thorfinn of Hamar (1278-82) was exiled and died at Ter Doest in Flanders. Thorfinn and many other bishops of the area disagreed with the sitting King Eric II of Norway regarding a number of issues, including ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Hamar, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.