Cathedrals in 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

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

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

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 Cathedral ...
Founded: c. 1100-1150 | Location: Stavanger, 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 church ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Oslo, 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

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

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

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 in 1 ...
Founded: 1879-1880 | Location: Fredrikstad, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.