Kristiansten Fortress

Trondheim, Norway

Kristiansten Fortress was built to protect the city against attack from the east. Construction was finished in 1685. General Johan Caspar von Cicignon, who was chief inspector of kuks fortifications, was responsible for the new town plan of Trondheim after the great fire of 18 April 1681. He also made the plans for the construction of Kristiansten Fortress.

The fortress was built during the period from 1682 to 1684 and strengthened to a complete defence fortification in 1691 by building an advanced post Kristiandsands bastion in the east and in 1695 with the now vanished Møllenberg skanse by the river Nidelven. These fortifications were encircled by a continuous palisade and thereby connected to the fortified city. In 1750 the fortress was modernized with new bastions and casemates to protect against mortar artillery. Two new isolated defensive works were also built to the east - Grüners and Frølichs redutt - but they are hardly visible today.

The main building featured in the picture is the defensive tower - Donjonen - with artillery, quartering and stores was the centre of the defences. After decommissioning in 1816 it was location of the fire watch, and since 1997 as a museum.

In the final days of the Great Northern War, Karl (Charles) XII of Sweden initiated a second invasion of Norway in the fall of 1718. An army under General Carl Gustaf Armfeldt (or Armfelt) was sent into Trøndelag to seize Trondheim. Armfeldt advanced against Trondheim, which was defended by an army of 6,900 men under Vincens Budde. The Swedish forces were resisted both by Norwegian forces and by the people of the countryside, who bitterly recalled the previous Swedish occupation of Trøndelag. Provisions were not available, and the Norwegian winter set in. Although he reached the city and laid siege, the strength of Kristiansten Fortress and other fortifications was such that he chose to retreat toward Verdal. Karl XII issued a sharp rebuke and ordered Armfeldt to take Trondheim. Although Armfeldt's forces surrounded Trondheim, Budde's forces were able to keep him at bay. Camping in the open and poorly fed, many of Armfeldt's troops fell ill and his capable forces were reduced to 4,000 men. When Karl XII was killed in December by a bullet at Fredriksten Fortress, Armfeldt's forces retreated to Sweden. On their way back across the mountains, almost the entire army was lost, mostly because of snow, cold temperature and a strong blizzard; the retreat has been likened to Napoleon’s from Moscow for the severity of casualties.

The Norwegian war flag with the badge denoting the union with Sweden was hauled down on 9 June 1905, and the 'pure' war flag was hoisted instead, with full military honours and gun salutes for both flags. On 18 November 1905 a twenty-one gun salute was again fired from Kristiansten Fortress to proclaim the election of Prince Carl of Denmark as the new King of Norway under the name of Haakon VII of Norway. The flag of union with Sweden was hauled down and the Flag of Norway hoisted.

During German occupation of Norway in World War II the Nazis executed a number of Norwegian patriots at Kristiansten.The fortress was the official place of execution of convicted and condemned traitors and war criminals following the legal purge in Norway after World War II. The notorious Henry Rinnan was executed here on 1 February 1947, and nine of his followers afterwards, eight of them on the same day in 1947.

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Founded: 1681-1685
Category: Castles and fortifications in Norway

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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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