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 town house in Christiania that the wealthy merchant Bernt Anker bequeathed to the State in 1805 to be used as a royal residence. During the last years of the union with Denmark it was used by the viceroys of Norway, and in 1814 by the first king of independent Norway, Christian Frederick. King Charles III John of the Bernadotte dynasty resided there as crown prince (1814-1818) and later as king during his frequent visits to his Norwegian capital.
Charles John chose the site for the permanent Royal Palace on the western side of Christiania in 1821 and commissioned the officer and inexperienced architect, Danish-born Linstow, to design the building. The Parliament approved the stipulated cost of 150 000 Speciedaler to be financed by the sale of government bonds. Work on the site started in 1824, and on 1 October 1825 the king laid down the foundation stone beneath the altar of the future Royal chapel. Linstow originally planned a building of only two storeys with projecting wings on both sides of the main facade.
The costly foundation works caused the budget to be exceeded, and the building had to stop in 1827, only to be resumed in 1833. In the meantime, the Storting refused additional grants as a demonstration against the king's unpopular efforts to establish a closer union between his two kingdoms. In 1833, Linstow produced a less costly project without the projecting wings, but with a third storey as compensation. Improved relations with the king made the Storting grant the necessary funds to complete the building. The roof was laid in 1836, and the interiors were finished during the late 1840s. King Charles John never had the pleasure of residing in his palace before he died in 1844, and its first occupants were his son Oscar I and his queen Josephine. It was soon found that the royal family needed a more spacious residence, and the wings facing the garden were extended. Before the official inauguration in 1849, the central colonnade that had been axed in 1833 was reintroduced, and the provisional steep roof was replaced by a more elegant and more expensive flat roof.
The next Bernadotte kings Charles IV and Oscar II continued to use the Royal Palace in Christiania, but spent most of their time in Stockholm. King Oscar's wife, Sophia of Nassau, preferred to spend summers in Norway, but mostly stayed at the country manor Skinnarbøl near the Swedish border for the sake of her health. Oscar II was absent from his Palace during 1905, the year of the dissolution of the union with Sweden, but his son, then Crown Prince Gustaf, paid two short visits in his vain attempts to save the union.
The Bernadotte dynasty resigned their Norwegian throne in 1905 and was succeeded by Prince Carl of Denmark, who took the name of Haakon VII when he accepted his election as king of completely independent Norway. He was the first monarch to use the Palace as his permanent residence.
During the reign and residence of King Olav V from 1957 to 1991, there was no money for renovation, something the poor build quality of the original structure direly needed. After Norway mutated from Scandinavia's poor house to its most wealthy member, the current monarch, King Harald V, could start a comprehensive renovation project. He was criticized because of the amount of money needed to bring the Palace up to a satisfactory state even if much of this went to rectify construction deficits from a century and a half ago. Since public tours began in 2002, the general public has been able to view and appreciate the renovation and splendour that the palace now boasts.References:
Steinvikholm Castle is an island fortress built between 1525 to 1532 by Norway's last Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson. Steinvikholm castle became the most powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian Middle Ages.
The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.
The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict. As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile in Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.
From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.
Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.