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Strategically located on a rock above the Oslo Fjord, the Akershus Fortress kept watch over the safety of King Håkon V and his Norwegian subjects during the Middle Ages. Akershus is still a military base, which is why you’ll see adolescents patrolling with bushy feathers on their heads. The fortress is open to the public. Foreign visitors take in its history here, while locals enjoy strolling around the area.
The modernistic city hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year, seems to want to steal the show in Oslo, but with the ultramodern Opera House, a new eye-catcher has joined the competition. However, the proud Akershus Fortress has dominated the skyline along the Oslo Fjord for 7 centuries. Construction on Akershus began in 1299 to repel invasions from warmongering Sweden. Nowadays, it serves a much more peaceful function as a place where locals walk their dogs and tourists enjoy views of the harbour. Open air concerts are also often held here.
The angular buildings and stocky towers with battlemented walls several metres thick appear utterly medieval, but the inside of the fortress is less stringent. After all kinds of invasion attempts with countless cannonballs were fended off, more leisurely times arrived. King Christian IV took advantage of this possibility to convert the castle into a Renaissance palace with majestic ballrooms.
The complex, which now extends much further than the fortress walls, still houses military barracks and also serves as the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence. When there are no state visits, military ceremonies or other official events taking place, visitors are welcome in the dungeons, royal rooms and castle chapel. A self-guided tour is always possible, but those wanting to learn about the 700 years of history of the fortress are advised to take a guided tour.
Nowadays, it is a popular place to hang out, but quite a bit of blood has been shed in and around the fortress over the years. During World War II, Norwegian resistance fighters were executed by Nazi firing squads here, while the same happened to collaborators after the war. You’d never know. The fortress walls, covered in lush grass, are perfect for walking or picnicking while enjoying panoramic views of the harbour and city. There are 2 museums that can be visited. During the summer, there is an outdoor café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee, sandwich or cold beer.
“During World War II, resistance fighters were executed here – while after the war, the same happened to collaborators.”