Munkholmen Fortress

Trondheim, Norway

Munkholmen is an islet which has served as a place of execution, a monastery, a fortress, prison, and a World War II anti-aircraft gun station.

In the years prior to the founding of the city of Trondheim in 997 by Viking King Olav Tryggvason, Munkholmen was used as an execution site by the Jarls of Lade. The arrival of Olav Tryggvason to Norway in 995 coincided with a revolt against Haakon Sigurdsson, who was killed by Tormod Kark. The severed heads of both Haakon and Kark were placed on stakes on Munkholmen facing out into the fjord to serve as a warning to visitors. Legend has it that before entering Trondheim, visitors were made to spit on these heads as a tribute to King Olav I of Norway. The tradition of displaying the severed heads of criminals and political opponents was continued for some time, but the heads were now placed so that they faced the city of Trondheim to deter its citizens from committing crimes.

In the early 12th century, and possibly even earlier, Benedictine monks lived on the island in Nidarholm Abbey. Local stories claim the monastery was quite lively and that on several occasions requests came from the mainland to keep the noise down. By the time Lutheran Protestantism came to Trondheim, the monastery had fallen into decay.

Construction of a fort on the island began in 1658. When it was completed in 1661, the fort was also used as a state prison for society's rejects. Count Peder Griffenfeld, Munkholmen's most famous prisoner, was transferred from the fortress of Copenhagen in 1671. Griffenfeld was kept at Munkholmen for 18 years, after which he was released, having contracted a terminal illness. The fort remained in operation until 1893.

Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Norway in 1940. After capturing Trondheim early on in the Norwegian Campaign, the Germans quickly established a submarine base, exploiting the natural protection provided by the fjord. At this time, Munkholmen was fitted with anti-aircraft weaponry. A large portion of the fort was retrofitted to hold ammunition, and the flooring planks were nailed in with wooden nails to prevent explosions caused by soldiers' boots striking metal nails. The German occupying forces remained in Norway until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. Remnants of the installation still exist in the upper levels of the fort.

Today, Munkholmen is a popular summertime tourist attraction and hangout for residents of Trondheim. From May to September, boats depart from Ravnkloa on a regular basis. Once on the island, visitors can take a guided tour (in English and Norwegian) or roam freely. There's also a small cafe/restaurant available.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1658
Category: Castles and fortifications in Norway

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rui Templier (8 months ago)
Lovely place. The grass was well kept and very nice to just walk around the fort as well as picnicking. Inside there were two floors of exhibits and the last floor had cannons and you could see outside to the city and touch the cannons. Admission free.
Marnia K. (8 months ago)
This fortress was filled with easy-to-follow history. All staff were friendly. The views were amazing. Climbing up could be a little scary with loose floorboards on the upper floors. But the experience was worth it!
Antonette Domingo (8 months ago)
Historic place and dog friendly. Big surroundings with a very good view and hangout place where you can have picnics with family and friends. There is also a cafe but we went there late afternoon so it's closed.
Jo C. H. Chen (8 months ago)
The Fortress is very closed to old town bridge. Pass the bridge walking straight up, around 10-15 minutes, you can easily find it is right up on the hill. An unforgettable history will be vivid in your mind when visit in person. From here, a beautiful picturesque landscape will fulfill your soul. The combination of lake, cathedral, trees and colorful houses just like painting from heaven!
Alec (10 months ago)
Free entrance is always a good sign, recommend anyone visiting Trondheim to make their way up if able to see this gem of cultural heritage. Just be careful with clambering up the stairs as they are a little steep.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trencín Castle

Trenčín Castle is relatively large renovated castle, towering on a steep limestone cliff directly above the city of Trenčín. It is a dominant feature not only of Trenčín, but also of the entire Považie region. The castle is a national monument.

History of the castle cliff dates back to the Roman Empire, what is proved by the inscription on the castle cliff proclaiming the victory of Roman legion against Germans in the year 179.

Today’s castle was probably built on the hill-fort. The first proven building on the hill was the Great Moravian rotunda from the 9th century and later there was a stone residential tower, which served to protect the Kingdom of Hungary and the western border. In the late 13th century the castle became a property of Palatine Matúš Csák, who became Mr. of Váh and Tatras.

Matúš Csák of Trenčín built a tower, still known as Matthew’s, which is a dominant determinant of the whole building.