Trondheim is a
city where the old meets the new.
Situated in the
county of Sør-Trøndelag where the river Nid flows into the
Trondheim fjord, we must admit we are pretty far north, in fact
only 500 km from the Polar Circle, but the warm Gulf Stream
blesses us with a fairly mild climate.
The name Trondheim derives from the old Norse Þróndheimr,
meaning home of the strong and fertile ones.
The city was founded by Viking King Olav Tryggvason in 997
BC, and occupies a special place in Norwegian culture and
history. Trondheim was the nation's first capital, and
continues to be the coronation city where Norway's Kings
from Harald Hårfagre (10th century BC) to King Harald V
(1991 -) have been crowned and blessed. In its history
the city was and is now again a popular destination for
pilgrimages. Trondheim is also an ecclesiastical centre, a
regional capital, a centre for industry and commerce, and
an important education and research centre.
When you visit Trondheim, you will notice:
The river winding slowly around the city's downtown district
and the old wharves along the mouth of the river
majestic Nidaros cathedral
The tall column with the statue of Olav Tryggvason the Viking
king in the middle of the town square
The old town bridge ("Gamle Bybro") with its carved gates
The wooden houses in the downtown and Bakklandet districts
After a catastrophic fire in 1681 destroyed most of the houses
in the city, Major Jean Caspar de Cicignon was brought to
Trondheim (from Luxembourg) to design a new city plan in the
Baroque style. The streets were made wide to prevent fires from
spreading. Some of the narrow alleys and narrow streets, many
originating in the Middle Ages, nevertheless still exist,
contrasting with Cicignon's wide boulevards from the 1600s. Even
today Trondheim is spoken of as one of the typical wooden cities
of Europe, and the city centre has many special wooden
buildings, some built as far back as the 1700s.
Financial development in the 1700s was led by rich merchants,
many of whom were immigrants from Denmark, the Netherlands and
Germany. Often trading in exports and imports using their own
ships, they generally lived along Kjøpmanngaten, with their
wharves facing the river. These distinctive buildings are still
a characteristic feature of the city today. The great wooden
mansions of the city were also built during this time of
Industrialisation in the 1800s led to new growth. A number of
factories and workshops were founded, and Trondheim was
connected by railway to the south. At the end of the 1800s
Trondheim also developed into an education centre.
Modern Trondheim boasts a thriving combination of science,
research and business communities, giving us a city that has the
intimacy of the small town, and also the many choices of the
Nidaros Cathedral was built over the grave of King Olav
Haraldsson, Norway's patron saint (reign 1015 - 1030). St Olav's
shrine was once a major destination for pilgrimages in the
Nordic countries. During the last decade we have been witness to
a pilgrim renaissance, with a growing number of pilgrims making
their way to Nidaros (ancient name for Trondheim).
Down by the Trondheim fjord at the bottom of Munkegata, Ravnkloa
serves as the city's main fish-market area.
Another interesting sight here is the sculpture "The Last of the
Vikings" by sculptor Nils Aas and a copy of the old Ravnkloa
One of the largest wooden buildings in the Nordic countries, now
called the Royal Residence, was completed in 1778 and stretched
all of 58 meters along Munkegaten. The cost of the building was
7400 spesiedaler, in today's money approximately NOK 78
Cecilia Christine Schøller, widow of the Privy Councillor, paid
for this out of her large capital base, estimated at around five
barrels of gold. The widow and her in-laws ended up with about
140 rooms at their disposal. However, she did not have many
years to enjoy the splendid interior of her new house before she
left for Copenhagen, where she died in 1786. Her son-in-law,
General Georg Fredrik von Krogh, organized the lively social
activities here before the heirs sold the house to the state in
1800. Then the County Governor and the County Court moved in.
When Karl Johan was crowned in 1818, the Royal Residence served
as the point of departure for the coronation procession to
Nidaros Cathedral for the first time. The County Governor had to
find a temporary home for his documents and dossiers. The
coronation tradition in Trondheim was continued with the
crowning of the Swedish-Norwegian regents Karl XV and Oscar II.
The year after the union was dissolved - in 1906 - King Håkon
VII was crowned, and the name "the Royal Residence" was taken
into use. The County Governor now left the building for good.
This mansion was the splendid backdrop for the blessing of King
Olav V in 1958 and King Harald V in 1991, for the city's
millennium celebrations, and for the joint celebration of the
sixtieth birthdays of the King and the Queen in 1997. The Royal
Residence has the style and exquisite detail that make it a true
At Nidareid, by the narrow isthmus between the river and the
fjord, lies Skansen, where the remnants of the city
fortifications towards the west can be seen. Today this is a
park with a beautiful view of the fjord.
An aerial view of Trondheim, shows that the Nid river forms a
natural moat around the city centre (Midtbyen). In the sagas
this was called Nidarneset - the Nidar headland. There is only
one access road into the city centre and that is over Nidareid.
There have been fortifications here since around 1170,
originally a wooden fort with palisades. In the 1640s, fortified
walls were added, the remains of which we can still see today.
There was a city gate here from the Middle Ages right up until
Trondheim has a strong position as
the centre of trade for central Norway. It has around 50 per
cent of the regional retail trade and about 85 per cent of the
wholesale trade, 85 per cent of imports and 65 per cent of
exports. NTNU (the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology), Trondheim's internationally renowned university,
and the city's many research communities ensure that it is a
city of innovation and development of science, business and
industry ventures. Trondheim is truly the nation's
In 2006 Trondheim is home to
around 157 000 inhabitants. But if we count the large number of
students (every sixth inhabitant is a student) the population
swells to 170 000. The students adds a youthful exuberance to
this thousan-year old city. While it is not a large metropolis,
Trondheim's location and opportunities put it on an equal
footing with the major cities of Europe.
Trondheim has a rich cultural life with an international flavour.
Every year at the end of July and start of August the city
celebrates St. Olavs Festival, a popular church and cultural
festival drawing crowds from near and far.