Steinvikholm Castle

Stjørdal, Norway

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.

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Details

Founded: 1525-1532
Category: Castles and fortifications in Norway

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4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

michel rensen (7 months ago)
Tour-gide was awesome. Even it it's small she knew to tell a lot of history. And the meaning / importance of the place. Highly recommended
ivar vatnehol (2 years ago)
Interesting castle. Good guide. Beautiful nature.
Per Øyvind Trapnes (2 years ago)
It's worth a visit if you happen to be in the area and have the time, it's a good camper car parking and a very good harbor for mooring your boat for the night. The castle is open between 11:00 and 17:00 and you can not access it without a guide . It's good fishing in the area and easy access .
Jaroslaw Woszczynski (2 years ago)
Very windy...?
Sander Skjulsvik (2 years ago)
Not open, but cool to walk around.
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