Sverresborg Castle Ruins

Trondheim, Norway

Sverresborg or Sverre Sigurdsson's castle was a fortification built in the medieval city of Nidaros (later Trondheim). It should not be confused with Sverresborg in Bergen. Sverre Sigurdsson was king of Norway from 1184-1202. In the winter of 1182/1183 he initiated construction of Sverresborg (one of the earliest Norwegian fortresses) to provide him a more secure and more easily defended base from which to work. The location selected was easily fortified, hard to approach, and could be defended by a small force. The stone for the fortification was available only 0.6 km away in the quarry which had been used for construction the cathedral at Nidaros. Since the Archbishop of Nidaros, who had aligned with King Magnus, was in exile in England from 1180 to 1183, the stonemasons were also available. Work proceeded quickly, and Sverre, along with a detachment of his men, moved out to the castle during Lent in 1183.

The sea Battle of Fimreite in 1184 proved to be final struggle between the Birkebeins and the Heklunger; King Magnus drowned. King Sverre, after a six years of struggle, became the uncontested king of Norway. But the peace was not to last for long.

In 1188 the town of Nidaros, which had been vacated by King Sverre’s men, was attacked. His opposition stormed into the city and a bloodbath followed. The wooden fortress was torn down and the castle burnt and left in ruins. It is not known precisely when it was restored, but the Sverresaga indicates the castle had been restored by 1197. He died in Bergen on 8 March 1202. Sverresborg is last mentioned in the time of King Sverre’s paternal grandson, King Haakon Haakonson in 1263, when he allowed the walls of Sverresborg to be broken down.

In 1914 the area surrounding the ruins of King Sverre's medieval castle was appropriated for the site of the new open-air museum. The castle ruins are today the center of the Trøndelag Folk Museum. The museum had started in 1909, when a group of enthusiasts decided to gather buildings and objects characteristic of the area for purposes of preservation. The area around the fortress ruins was set aside for purposes of building a museum and the collection has grown steadily since then. Sverresborg Trøndelag Folk Museum is one of the largest cultural history museums in Norway. There are more than 60 buildings on the site now, covering a broad ethnological range.

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Founded: 1182-1183
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Norway

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User Reviews

Kathleen Burks (2 years ago)
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Folk Museum - the only museum we visited in Trondheim. We arrived right on time for the daily 14:30 tour in English where a guide dressed in traditional attire took us to some of the oldest sites on the property, including the 2 churches, ruins of a castle, and an old family home. He explained the history of these places and gave us glimpses into how it was in the past. After that, we had just enough time to walk through the folktale/fairytale path on the way to the animal feeding at 16:00. We saw the pigs, rabbits, chickens, and cows, and got to feed the goats ourselves. The staff were all very friendly and available to answer any questions. We spent 2.5 hours there but easily could’ve spent 3 or more hours. Make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes since it’s spread out outdoors with many different buildings to visit and learn about.
Madlen Karlíková (2 years ago)
Nice museum in nature, you can see old samish houses, small town from first part of 20th century, typicall norwegian houses with grass on the roof and the Svereborg castle. You can also feed their animals, try old clothes etc. In some houses there are guides who tell you the story about the house.
Ryan Richardson (2 years ago)
Thought the folk museum was great! Wish we’d had closer to three hours to spend there. They offer guided tours of some of the oldest buildings, there’s a town square set up with examples of old dentist offices, apothecary, and hat shop. There was also a good exhibit on life in Trondheim over the last few hundred years organized by phase of life (childhood, teenage years, etc).
Harrison Aujla (2 years ago)
What a lovely experience! In spite of the eclectic weather it was still incredibly enjoyable to see these buildings which lend themselves to Norwegian history. The guided tour was informative and the person who presented it spoke English very well, which was good for myself as I don't speak Norwegian (yet).
Dagnija Lezdiņa (2 years ago)
One of must see if You are in Trondheim more than one day. Really interesting place and very kind stuff. Just missing an information at some of buildings. For example, what they were used for. I definitely recommend to visit it.
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