Akershus Fortress. Fortress in Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress

Fortress in Oslo, Norway

Akershus Slott, Oslo Photo © Mariano Mantel

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Akershus Fortress

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	- Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by Jim G
The Akershus Fortress is one of Norway's national symbols. Having served many purposes over time, it has fulfilled its original purpose on many occasions - the Norwegian capital city was never taken under siege. Situated right in the center of the city and overlooking the fjord, this imposing former seat of power is now under the custody of the military and hosts the ministry of defense, but it can be visited and sometimes it acts as a housing place for important state events and even weddings. Should you find yourself in the city center, walk towards the City Hill for the best panorama.

History

The construction of the fortress was begun in 1299 by King Håkon V, and it was first used in this sense in 1308 against the Swedes. It might seem strange that the fortress could control the whole city, even at that time, but in fact, whoever controlled Akershus controlled the whole of Norway. This was because of its proximity to the sea. Most Scandinavian trade was made by sea, and thus the stronghold had a crucial strategic and economic importance.

 - Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by David Casteel


Though its original purpose was to defend the city, it served many other purposes, among which that of a prison, in the first half of the 19th century. Because some of the prisoners were serving sentences by working for the community, it had a sector called "The Slavery". Many prisoners died in the fortress, and many war victims were executed in the years of Nazi occupation, hence the rumors of it being haunted. The most popular legend is that of the dog, Malcanisen, literally meaning ‘evil dog’. It is said that the dog was terrorizing the soldiers in life, and that its body is buried within the Maid Tower. Now the spirit of the dog continues to guard the gates, and whoever it approaches will be dead within three months.

Gjest Baardsen (Wikipedia
	Article) and Ole Pedersen Hoiland, two of the most famous thieves in Norway's history have been incarcerated here. The first one became famous for his escapes, as well as for his works written during his imprisonment - by the time he paid his debts to society he was already making a living out of writing. The latter, another escape artist, even managed to escape Akershus and eventually committed suicide.

 - Akershus
	Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by David Casteel

Architecture

At the beginning of the 17th century, King Christian IV of Denmark (Wikipedia Article) restored and modernized the fortress, modeling it under the Renaissance style.

Visiting

Akershus is split between the grounds and the castle itself, and opening times differ according to the season: May to August for summer, and September to April for winter. The grounds are open from 7 AM to 9 PM during winter, and from 6 AM to 9 PM during summer every day of the week, while the castle opens its gates at 10 AM during summer until 4 PM. Sunday makes an exception and opens at 12:30 PM.

During winter, the castle can only be visited with a guided tour, and only on Thursdays at 1 PM. The duration of a tour is one hour, and the fees are 65 NOK for adults and 25 NOK for children (under 18 years old). Entrance in the castle costs 65 NOK for adults, 45 for students, 15 for children under 18, and free of charge for children under 6. For groups larger than 10 persons, the price is 45 NOK.

Visiting the grounds is free of charge and you can experience the fortress on your own, visit the castle church and the Royal Mausoleum, or you can take a guided tour as well.
The fortress grounds' guided tour is priced as such: 30 NOK for adults, 20 NOK for students, 10 NOK for children above 6 years of age, and free of charge for children under 6. A family packaged tour costs 70 NOK.

A very special view can be caught at night, due to the building's spectacular illumination. During summer, at 1 PM every day, the Changing of the King’s Guard event starts here.

 - Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by Nenyaki


 - Akershus
	Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by David Casteel

How to Get There

The best way to get to the Akershus Fortress is by trams 10 or 12 to the Christiania Torv station. You can also take the subway at the Nationaltheatret station. From here, the fortress is a 10 minutes walk away, towards the City Hall. Having an Oslo pass will grant you free entrance in the castle and a free guided tour for the grounds.

What Else to Visit

In the proximity of the fortress there's the Oslo Opera House, situated right on the harbor pier, the Frogner Park (Wikipedia
	Article), exhibiting Manuel Vigeland's sculptures, the Royal Palace, and the Viking Ship Museum. If you are looking for something more entertaining, you should check out the Oslo Winter Park and the Halmenkollen Ski Jump, two places where you can engage in Norway's national sport: ski - and everything related to it.

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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Sep 05, 2014

Pictures of Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by David Casteel

Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress. Photo by David Casteel

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