High season at the Oslo Cathedral

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It’s high season at the newly refurbished Oslo Cathedral (Oslo Domkirke) with concerts and special events highlighting the weeks leading up to traditional church services held through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The Oslo Cathedral (Domkirken) reopened recently after a lengthy renovation. PHOTO: Views and News

The band belonging to His Majesty the King’s Guards performed recently for the king at the annual Military Parade (gardeparade). The Oslo boys’ choir called  Sølvguttene also held two concerts.

The Oslo Cathedral is the official church of Norway. Its bronze spire is a landmark in the Oslo skyline. The huge paintings on the ceiling of the church are a sight to marvel at, and the stained glass in the windows was done by the brother of famous Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland, Emanuel. In recent years the Cathedral has made the news for enduring years of renovation. This holiday season, we are taking the opportunity to learn a little more about it.

King Harald leaving the cathedral after an annual event this week. PHOTO: Isabel Coderre

The church was built in the late 17th century, though it was preceded by two others dating back to the early 12th century. When the Oslo Cathedral was built, it went by the name of “Church of Our Saviour” (and retained that name until the 1950s). At that time the boundaries of the city then known as Christiania fell along the street now known as Karl Johans Gate; with the church’s location on the north side of the street, it was actually built outside the city walls.

The building we see now is the product of various constructions, expansions, and renovations. In its original form, the church was done in baroque style but had a modest appearance – the Norwegian-Danish state did not have the money to afford ornate decoration. During the 1850s the size of the church was expanded, and neogothic elements such as the distinctive bronze spire were added while almost all baroque elements were removed.

Royal guards inside the cathedral. PHOTO: Isabel Coderre

In the 1950s, the church’s baroque style was restored under the supervision of the architect who also designed the royal residence at Skaugum and the Viking Ship Museum. The church’s final set of renovations began in 2006 and ended in April 2010, but its purpose was not stylistic – the building had incurred significant structural damage over its lifetime.

The Oslo Cathedral used its 2010 reopening as an occasion to reinvigorate its missions and aims. It is striving to be “open-minded and traditional at the same time,” to accept people as they are, and to be a church “for all people.” It is offering more events than ever, and offering some events at no cost including a free Christmas concert on December 22, along with regular free organ concerts, many in the middle of a normal weekday.

The church is also planning to give tours of the building on certain days of the week, but that initiative is not yet fully organized. Nevertheless, many people working at the church are very knowledgeable about its history and are happy to answer visitors’ questions.

Oslo Cathedral (Oslo Domkirke)
http://www.oslodomkirke.no/artikler/1183/oslo-cathedral/ (external link)
Open: Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm, Friday 3:30pm through the night to 8am on Saturday, Saturday again from 10am-4pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.
Location: Karl Johans gate 11. Take the bus or trikk to Stortorvet or T-bane to Jernbanetorget.

Views and News from Norway/Isabel Coderre
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