Trondheim: Norway’s Viking Capital
The settlement of Nidaros, later to become Trondheim, was founded in 997 as a trading post, and was the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217. From 1152 to 1537, the city was the seat of the Archdiocese of Nidaros.
Most of the downtown area of Trondheim is scattered with small specialty stores and shops, however a considerable part of the downtown shopping area is concentrated around the pedestrianized streets Nordre gate (English: Northern street), Olav Tryggvasons gate and Thomas Angells gate even though the rest of the city center also is riddled with everything from old, well established companies to new, hip and trendy shops.
In the mid- to late 1990s, the area surrounding the old dry dock and ship construction buildings of the defunct Trondhjems mekaniske Værksted shipbuilding company at the Nedre Elvehavn were renovated and old industrial buildings were torn down to make way for condominiums. A shopping mall was also built, known as Solsiden (The Sunny Side). This is a popular residential and shopping area, especially for young people.
Kristiansten Fortress, built 1681–1684, is located on a hill east in Trondheim. It repelled the invading Swedes in 1718, but was decommissioned in 1816 by Crown Prince Regent Charles John.
A statue of Olav Tryggvason, the founder of Trondheim, is located in the city’s central plaza, mounted on top of an obelisk. The statue base is also a sun dial, but it is calibrated to UTC+1 so that the reading is inaccurate by one hour in the summer.
The islet Munkholmen is a popular tourist attraction and recreation site. The islet has served as a place of execution, a monastery, a fortress, prison, and a World War II anti-aircraft gun station.
Stiftsgården is the royal residence in Trondheim, originally constructed in 1774 by Cecilie Christine Schøller. At 140 rooms constituting 4,000 square metres (43,056 sq ft), it is possibly the largest wooden building in Northern Europe, and has been used by royals and their guests since 1800.
A statue of Leif Ericson is located at the seaside, close to the old Customs Building, the cruise ship facilities and the new swimming Hall. The statue is a replica, the original being located at a Seattle marina.
The Trondheim Museum of Arts has Norway’s third largest public art collection, mainly Norwegian art from the last 150 years. The National Museum of Decorative Arts boasts a large collection of decorative arts and design, including a great number of tapestries from the Norwegian tapestry artist Hannah Ryggen, as well as Norway’s only permanent exhibibition of Japanese arts and crafts. Sverresborg, also named Zion after King David’s castle in Jerusalem, was a fortification built by Sverre Sigurdsson. It is now an open air museum, consisting of more than 60 buildings. The castle was originally built in 1182–1183, but did not last for long as it was burned down in 1188. However, the Sverresaga indicates it had been restored by 1197.
Trondheim Science Museum (Norwegian: Vitensenteret i Trondheim) is a scientific hands-on experience center. The Museum of Natural History and Archaeology is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. There are also a variety of small history, science and natural history museums, such as the Trondheim Maritime Museum, the Armoury, adjacent to the Archbishops’s Palace, the music and musical instrument museum Ringve National Museum, Ringve Botanical Garden, the Trondheim Tramway Museum, and the Jewish Museum, co-located with the city’s synagogue, which is among the northernmost in the world.
Rockheim (National Center of Pop and Rock Culture) opened at the Pier in August 2010. It is located inside an old building, but characterized by an easily recognizable roof the shape of a box. “The box” is decorated by thousands of tiny lights that changes in a variety of colors and patterns, and is a landmark in the cityscape – especially in dark winter evenings.