Top historic sites in Oslo

Oslo City Museum

The Oslo City Museum at Frogner Manor in Vigeland Park is a museum of cultural history with one of Norway"s largest painting collections. The history of Oslo is illustrated by thematic exhibitions that show the development of Oslo and the city"s cultural and commercial activities through 1000 years. Frogner Hovedgård (the main building) and its authentic interior from 1750-1900 is open in July and August.
Founded: | Location: Oslo, Norway

Historical Museum of Norway

The Historical Museum is part of the Museum of Cultural History, which has the country"s largest collection of items from pre-historic times and the Middle Ages found in Norway. The Antiquities Collection shows Norwegian antiquities from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages including outstanding Viking Age and Medieval collections. Guided tours during summer season. The Collection of Coins and Medals displays Norwegian c ...
Founded: | Location: Oslo, Norway

National Gallery

The National Gallery houses Norway's largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. The museum's central attractions include Edvard Munch's The Scream and Madonna and paintings by Cézanne and Manet. The museum's exhibitions present older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway. The permanent exhibition shows highlights from the collection and national icons from the romantic period until the mid ...
Founded: 1842 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress or Castle is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo, the capital of Norway. The first construction on the castle started around the late 1290s, by King Haakon V, replacing Tønsberg as one of the two most important Norwegian castles of the period (the other being Båhus). It was constructed in response to the Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg’s earlier attack ...
Founded: 1290s | Location: Oslo, 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

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of King Charles III, who also reigned as king of Sweden and otherwise resided there, and is the official residence of the present Norwegian monarch. The crown prince resides at Skaugum in Asker west of Oslo. The palace has 173 rooms. Until the completion of the Royal Palace, Norwegian royalty resided in Paleet, the magnificent tow ...
Founded: 1825-1849 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Munch Museum

Munch Museum (Munch-museet) is an art museum dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. The museum was financed from the profits generated by the Oslo municipal cinemas and opened its doors in 1963 to commemorate what would have been Munch's 100th birthday. Its collection consists of works and articles by Munch, which he donated to the municipality of Oslo upon his death, and additional works do ...
Founded: 1963 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Norwegian Folk Museum

Norsk Folkemuseum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, is a museum of cultural history with extensive collections of artifacts from all social groups and all regions of the country. It also incorporates a large open air museum with more than 150 buildings relocated from towns and rural districts. Norsk Folkemuseum was established in 1894 by librarian and historian Hans Aall (1867-1946). It acquired the core area of ...
Founded: 1894 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Viking Ship Museum

The main attractions at the Viking Ship Museum are the Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship and Tune ship. Additionally, the Viking Age display includes sledges, beds, a horse cart, wood carving, tent components, buckets and other grave goods. Many fully or nearly fully intact Viking ships are on display. Its most famous ship is the completely whole Oseberg ship. In 1913, Swedish professor Gabriel Gustafson proposed a specific bui ...
Founded: 1926 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Vigeland Sculpture Park

The Vigeland Park is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions. The park is open to visitors all year round. The unique sculpture park is Gustav Vigeland's lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. Vigeland was also in charge of the design and architectural layout of the park. Gustav Vigeland was born in Mandal in ...
Founded: 1939 | Location: Oslo, Norway

St. Mary's Church Ruins

St Mary"s Church (Mariakirken) was the royal chapel and had an important political role, as its provost from 1314 also was Chancellor of Norway. It was built originally in 1050 AD, but rebuilt and expanded several times. Final additions made in the 1300s. In the beginning of the 14th century, it was the third largest church in the country, and in the Middle Ages it was the royal chapel. The church was set on fire by ...
Founded: 1050 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Old Aker Church

Old Aker Church (Gamle Aker kirke) is Oslo"s oldest remaining building and the only remaining church from the Middle Ages. It is assumed that it was built around the year 1150. It is a stone church, built as a three-naved Roman-style basilica. The church has been pillaged and ravaged by fire several times. The oldest part of the surrounding churchyard dates back to the 12th century. The church has a baroque pulpit a ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Hovedøya Abbey Ruins

Hovedøya Abbey was a Cistercian founded on 18 May 1147 by monks from Kirkstead Abbey in England on Hovedøya island, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Edmund. A church dedicated to Edmund already stood on the island, and the monks took this over as the abbey church, modifying it to meet Cistercian requirements. The rest of the monastery follow a modified Cistercian building plan, to take into ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Aereslunden Cemetery

Vår Frelsers gravlund was created in 1808 as a result of the great famine and cholera epidemic of the Napoleonic Wars. Its grounds were extended in 1911. The cemetery has been full since 1952. The cemetery is known primarily for Æreslunden, Norway"s main honorary burial ground. Famous Norwegians such as Edvard Munch, Henrik Ibsen, Henrik Wergeland, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Richard Nordrak, Chr ...
Founded: 1808 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.