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Norway was supposed to have more manor houses rather than castles. In Norwegian, palass means palace, slott means castle, and festning or fort means fortress. We have listed all the famous castles in Norway. They were originally made of wood and earth. Later on, the castles were made of stone. So, most of them are still standing today.
Spanning over 900 years during the middle ages, castles are built in different designs and architecture. Despite being distinct in form, all of them are fortified. Castles are constructed mainly for defense purposes to withstand attacks in the medieval era.
They further improved their capabilities with technologies like murder-holes, arrowslits, and moats. With the advancement of gunpowder, castles fell out of favor as canons and other offensive technologies rendered them truly obsolete. Here is the consolidated list of palaces and castles in Norway.
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Top 10 Stunning Castles in Norway to Visit
Sverre Sigurdsson castle or Sverresborg was a residence and fort which was built in Nidaros, a medieval city built by King Sverre Sigurdsson. The fortification was erected to support the struggle of Sverre Sigurdsson against King Magnus Erlingsson to claim Norway’s throne.
Now the site is the part of an open-air museum, Sverresborg Trøndelag Folk Museum for the Trøndelag region. The location of Sverresborg and defense of the city of Trondheim was based on tree geographical features –
- ·The city is positioned on the peninsula bordered on the south and east by River Nidelva and by Trondheimsfjord on the north.
- Located precisely to the south, a glacially carved rock hill rules the city and offers a well-fortified site.
- The neck connecting the mainland and peninsula was a bit narrow and could be fortified with ease.
In the 1182-1183 fall, Sverre started construction of Sverresborg, i.e., one of the earliest fortresses in Norway, to provide a more easily defended and secure base to operate and reside from.
The selected location was hard to approach, easily fortified and could be protected easily by a small force.
For the fortification, the stone used was available just 600m away in a quarry which has been used to build the Nidaros cathedral.
Since Archbishop of Nidaros, who had worked with King Magnus, was in exile from 1180 to 1183 in England and stonemasons were available too.
Along with being detached from his men, Sverre moved out to castle and work proceeded instantly in 1183 during Lent.
Egeberg Castle was built by Halfdan Berle, a leading architect, in 1899-1901 for Einar Westeye Egeberg and Birgitte Halvordine.
Einar Westeye Egeberg owned one of the most prominent lumber companies of Oslo, Westye Egeberg & Co. There were seven children of Egeberg couple, and most of them grown up when the family finally shifted to the castle in the year 1901.
Egeberg Castle was the biggest private residence in Oslo at 1600 sq. m. over two floors and a section of the tower. After a century, the castle stood strongly tall around a big park and with an extraordinary view over the harbor and city.
The overall cost of construction was 12 million kronor in the year 1901. The castle was built with quality materials like soapstone and granite.
The architecture was a renaissance from Italy dominated by dignified forms. The ceilings of the interiors were made by stucco workers from Italy. The first floor of the castle had a smoking lounge, vestibule, hall, dining room, bathroom, and dressing rooms. The billiard room was also built in the tower while storage rooms were built in the basement. Mrs. Egeberg had ill health and was paralyzed partially.
A lift was installed at NOK 25000. An open Minerva car like the one of the royal family in Norway was owned for Mrs. Egeberg in 1912 to go on a drive with chauffeur, but she died in the year 1930.
Akershus Castle or Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle built for protection and to offer the royal home for Oslo, Norway. The castle has been used as a prison, military base and government offices. Exactly when the castle was built is still now known, but it was expected to be made by King Haakon V around the late 1290s.
Tønsberg has been replaced among the two most prominent castles in Norway in that period. It was built in response to the nobleman of Norway, Sarpsborg’s Earl Alv Erlingsson attacked Oslo earlier in 1287. After the attack, it became clear that the existing defenses of the city were not that effective, and a stronger defense was in need. In written sources, the castle is mentioned in 1300 for the first time in a King Haakon’s letter from him to a church-based in Oslo.
However, it is not cleared in the letter how far the castle’s construction had been going on by then. The fortress has seen all the sieges but survived, especially by Swedish forces, including ones by Charles XII in the year 1716.
Austrått Manor or Austrått is a manor based in Ørland municipality of Trøndelag, Norway. Austrått has served as the residence for several noblemen, officials, and noblewomen since the 10th century who played an important role in the history of Norway.
Austrått can also be mentioned as Østeraat, Østråt, Austaat, Østeraad, and Austråt. As it is positioned today, the manor’s layout is attributed to Ove Bjelke, a chancellor for whom it was built around 1656. In 1916, the manor house was burned down, and it was restored in 1961.
Previously, the manor house belonged to a larger property, but it is now an independent land from the manor house. The state of Norway owns a manor house, owned by Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustri museum, Trondheim. From June to August, the manor house is open for the public.
The term “Austrått” is believed to be derived from old Norse terms used to define east direction which could be eastbound or the eastern property.
Fritzøehus is a manor house and private estate positioned in Larvik. The estate has been related to several Treschow family members traditionally. It was designed by Jacob Wilhelm Nordan and built-in 1863-1865 for Michael Treschow.
The manor house was stretched in the years 1885-89 and 1897-1898. It includes 75 rooms in total floor area with 21 basement rooms, so it has become the largest private residence in the country.
Located in Fritzøehus park, Fritzøehus is a designated conservation place built to preserve the expanded beech forests as well as unique landscapes. There is also fir, walnut, and spruce trees in the park spread over 1700 acres. The park was built in the 1860s in the English style.
There is a water fountain in the courtyard and a bear’s sculpture by Anne Grimdalen. The park has a collection of mouflon and fallow deer in the Mediterranean.
It is a Maison de Plaisance in Frognerkilen on Bygdoy, a small fjord in Oslo of Norway. The palace was built in 1852 by Johan Henrik Nebelong, a Danish architect on commission from Queen Joséphine and King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway. The castle was opened to the public as the museum by King Oscar II in 1881.
With surrounding park and secondary building, the palace is known to be among the best epitome of neo-Gothic style in Norway and is among the most prominent embodiments of the nation in the National Romantic style, and it was known in Norway.
The interior was built and entirely designed by the artisans and artists belong to Norway. The dining hall’s walls are designed well with paintings by Adolph Tidemand and Joachim Frich, and the furniture and decoration in the drawing-room showcase the styles of old Guildhall in Norway.
Oscarshall has gone through complete restoration and renovation from 2005 to 2009 and has brought furniture and colors back to the previous style since 1859. Oscarshall was open to the public after renovation.
During summers, the palace is finally open for guided tours. The Queen Josephine Gallery was opened by Queen Sonja in 2013 on the Oscarshall grounds. The featured prints and graphic prints are exhibited in the gallery by Her Majesty during the first season.
Gamlehaugen is a mansion located in Bergen and the residential home of the Norwegian Royal Family. It has history dated far back to the Middle Ages, and the list of last owners includes most of the richest men in Bergen.
The Norwegian state has owned the castle today, and Christian Michelsen is the latest private owner and a shipping and politician magnate who became the first PM of Norway after the closure of the union between Norway and Sweden. Michelsen started building this building where he lived the rest of his life in Gamlehaugen.
In 1925, Michelsen died, and his closest colleagues and friends started fund-raising on a national level which brought enough amount of money to enable a state to own the property.
English park was also opened the same year to the public and the ground floor of the house was opened two years later as a museum. It has been the residence of the Norwegian Royal Family in Bergen since the year 1927.
The red building stable is located next to the road. Originally it was located around the house of caretaker demolished in 1986 when the rock was blasted right away and made space for the main street’s widening. There is an unused root cellar located west of the stable.
On the other side of the compound, there is a greenhouse built further west and is being used by janitorial crew these days.
A larger greenhouse may have existed when the greenhouse is small at some point during the moment when Michelsen ruled Gamlehaugen.
Located along the earlier Norwegian-Swedish border, Bohus Fortress can be accessed northeast from Hisingen where Gota River is split into two different branches.
The river forms a moat naturally around it at the nearby area from a 40m high cliff. The Bohus Fortress started to be built in 1308 under the King of Norway, Haakon V Magnuson during the years 1299 to 1319.
The construction of Norwegian castles was also begun by Hakon V at Akershus and Vardøhus from a comprehensive defensive policy. When Bohuslan was the territory of Norway and served as a significant defense for Norway against Sweden, it was the strong part of Bohuslan from 1308 till 1658.
It was decided that the unused fortress must be demolished at the end of the 18th century.
The crews started demolishing the fort for two months when money allocated had run out. And the houses were built by the residents of Kungalv using fortress’s dressed stone. But you can still see most of the fortress, along with a huge northern tower named Fars Hatt.
The fortress serves as a museum since 2015 and is open during summers.
Located on the Skatval peninsula, Steinvikholm Castle is one of the best castles in Norway. It is an island fortress located on the Skatval peninsula in Nord-Trøndelag County near Stjørdal. It took seven years to build, i.e., from 1525 to 1532, by the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Norway, Olav Engelbrektsson.
It was the powerful fort of its time and the largest in the Middle Age in Norway.
Around half of the land has been occupied on the hilly island. Since the reason doesn’t have spring, the freshwater was available only on the mainland.
There was a wooden bridge, the only way to the island along with the boat. Even though the design of the castle was common in 1525 across Europe, the medieval layout of the castle was being obsolete due to the enhanced firepower of the siege from the cannons and gunpowder.
Tønsberg fortress was a medieval castle and fortress in Tønsberg, which was protected for more than 300 years by the fort. It consists of Castrum Tunsbergis ruins, the largest castle in Norway in the 13th century, built by King Sverre’s grandson, King Hakon IV.
It is usually known to have been the oldest town in Norway and one of the oldest fortified locations recorded in the country. It was believed to be founded before the Battle of Hafrsfjord fought under which Norway was united on the rule of Harald I of Norway.
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