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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrOn the edge of the Oslofjord, the eponymous Norwegian capital stretches along with the welcoming serenity specific to Scandinavia. Fairly small for a capital, Oslo is still the biggest city in Norway, with a population of 650,000 and an area of 454 square kilometers.
HistoryOslo was founded around the year 1049, by King Harald, and has functioned as the capital since the beginning of the 14th century, under Haakon V , with an exception of a period of 200 years, during Norway's union with Denmark, until 1814. The city has been ravaged by fire and plague several times. The 19th century saw a boost for Oslo, as this was a time of prosperity and cultural development, with many landmarks being built at this time: the Royal Palace, the Parliament, the University, and the National Theater.
Opera HouseProbably the most popular landmark in Oslo is the Oslo Opera House, famous for its avant-garde architectural design. Set right on the harbor shore, it gives the impression that it's rising right out of the water, due to its white marble rooftop. Aside from the spectacular panorama it offers, the roof also hosts concerts when weather permits.
Frogner ParkFrogner Park's fame resides in the Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement, the world's greatest sculpture arrangement made by one artist: Gustav Vigeland . The gallery has no less than 192 stone statues, describing the author's view on nature and life itself. All of them are nude except the author's self-portrait. The most recognizable edifice in the park is the Monolith, a 14 meters tall structure made from a single stone block, at the top of which resides the urn containing Vigeland's remains. The most famous statue in the park is the tantrum throwing baby.
The Viking Ship MuseumAs the name implies, this museum displays Viking ships and other archaeological remnants from the medieval period in, almost, intact condition. The museum is on the Bygdøy Peninsula, which can be reached by ferry. Other museums can be found on the island, such as the Cultural History Museum, the Kon Tiki History Museum and the Fram Museum.
The Royal PalaceIn the middle of the city, on the Bellevue hill, is the Royal Palace, the seat of the royalty. Its chambers can be visited with the summer tours, and the surrounding park can be visited at any time.
The Munch MuseumInaugurated on Edvard Munch's 100th birthday, the Munch Museum hosts the works of expressionism's pioneer and Norway's greatest painter. Numbering over one thousand paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphic art collections, Munch's work has been left to the Oslo city museum by his own will. Here, you can admire his most famous painting, The Scream, in 2 versions, the painting and the pastel. Besides the consecrated works, you can also admire less conventional art pieces, such as books, plates, etchings, and collages.
The Noble Peace CenterThe Nobel Peace Center displays a gallery of all the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their achievements. The Center is part of the Nobel Institutions network, which aims at raising awareness on the social and political issues of today's society. Throughout the year, this is the setting for many theater plays, conferences, lectures, and children educational games. The building stands out thought its unique design, conceived by the British architect, David Adjaye.
The Mini Bottle GalleryThe Mini Bottle Gallery is a small museum of miniature bottles. A unique museum in its own right, it houses over 50,000 bottles. The building has 3 stories and many thematic rooms, out of which a bar couldn't be missed, even though it serves beverages in normal sized bottles.
Winter ParkShould you find yourself in Oslo during winter, don't miss the Oslo Winter Park . As the largest ski resort in Oslo, it provides 18 slopes and 11 lifts, children areas, a five slope terrain park, and the first Olympic Superpipe. During summer, the park hosts summer sports.
The Akershus FortressThe Akershus Fortress is Norway's national symbol. The fortress was built during the medieval period as a successful anti-siege consolidation, and has also served as a prison and a royal seat. The building is owned by the military, but it is publicly open for visiting, and even used for weddings and other public events.
The Fram MuseumOn the Bygdøy Peninsula there is another not-to-be-missed landmark: the Fram Museum. It houses old ships made famous by their sailors who embarked on explorations. The most important is Fram, considered to be the strongest ship ever made, and the only one in the world to ever explore both poles. Meaning “forward” in Norwegian, the ship was used by Robert Falcon Scott , who raced his way to the South Pole, and starved to death in the process. The ship has been brought back in 1914, and reconditioned in 1935, spawning the rest of the museum around it.
HolmenkollenHolmenkollen Ski Jump and Ski Museum is for sure the most beloved attraction by the locals, if not by visitors as well. The reason is simple: Norwegians love ski so much, that even in the summer you can see them rolling on the highway on their skis-on-wheels. The Holmenkollen arena hosts many games and competitions, and features a ski museum, where you can learn about the history of Norway's national sport, a ski simulator, and the most futuristic ski jump tower in the world.
The Reptile ParkThe Oslo Reptile Park is home to over 100 reptile species, but it's not limited to that. The two-story museum also displays spiders, monkeys and other exotic animals. A very popular attraction is Tuesday's Feeding Show. Upon opening, the park had only one employee, its manager, and for many years it was run by volunteers.
ShoppingNorway is famous for being one of the most expensive countries in the world, occupying second place after Japan just until a few years ago. Except for the regular malls in the center, if you are looking for something special you should check out the Bærumske Ironworks, the oldest marketplace in Oslo, dating back to 1610. Here you can find all kinds of small shops, restaurants, souvenir stores, exhibitions, and galleries. It is open on working days from 10 AM to 8 PM, and Saturdays from 10 AM until 6 PM.
If you are looking for fresh local food, Mathallen center is for you. Here you can find special food from small-scale providers, so the quality is above the supermarket wares.
And, if you are looking for something truly special, David-Andersen jewelers have been trading their master craft since 1876. offering quality crafts. Here, you can find a fine selection of jewels, from silver to diamonds, and even a special section of the shop with antiques.
HotelsThere are more than 50 hotels in Oslo, and the prices vary greatly. While they are not the cheapest in the world, they are not as expensive in Norway as one might expect. The Grand Hotel is a landmark in itself, and the Radisson Blu Plaza, the second tallest hotel in Northern Europe, with 37 stories, is located right outside the airport. Most of them are usually located around the center, and if you are looking for something more low-budget, camping sites are very popular in Norway, and the prices start from as low as €10.
DiningCheap food is almost non-existent in Norway, that's something you will have to accept. Though there are fine restaurants in Oslo with traditional food based on salmon and elk meat, you have to be prepared for a matching budget. Most dining places, though, are pizza and kebab restaurants. The price of a pizza starts somewhere around €10, and even hypermarkets will probably feel a lot more expensive than Europe. Drinking is also special in its own way, because the only place where you can buy alcohol is a chain of liquor stores owned by the state, with strict schedule and high prices. The only drinks available at the supermarket are beers, starting at roughly €3 per can.
TransportationThe Oslo subway is the fastest way around the city. One ride costs 22 NOK. The trams and buses function on the honor system, with conductors occasionally hopping in to check passengers for a ticket. Fines, in general, are very high so it is better to buy a ticket. The speeding fines are particularly high, and above certain speed marks you can even go to jail.
The easiest and cheapest way to ride around Oslo is the Oslo Pass. It provides free travel on any public transport vehicle in zones 1 and 2, free parking in any car parking lot, free admission to museums and discounts on sightseeing tickets. The prices are 290 NOK for an adult and 145 NOK for a child, for a 24 hours pass. They can also be obtained in 48 and 72 hours versions.
SafetyWith the exception of a few terrorist acts, Oslo is considered to be one of the safest cities in Europe when it comes to personal crime. Public transport is frequently used by the tourists, and is considered to be safe. Saturday night's city life might seem a little wild, with drunk people of both sexes lay sprawling on the streets and maybe making a lot of noise, but there are hardly any street conflicts.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Apr 05, 2015