Nidaros Cathedral hit by vandals

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One of Norway’s most cherished buildings, the national cathedral known as Nidarosdomen in Trondheim, was vandalized during the night, reportedly by three youths who were seen throwing rocks at its ornate facade. Glass panes just below the cathedral’s famed rose window were shattered.

The windows damaged are just below the Nidaros Cathedral's large rose window in the center of the cathedral's ornate western wall, on the left-hand side when seen from outdoors. The cathedral, begun in 1070, is a national treasure and the where Norwegian royalty has been crowned or blessed for centuries. PHOTO: Den Norske Kirke

The cathedral, dating from 1070, has been the destination for generations of pilgrims and the site of coronations and royal weddings. It has been undergoing a massive restoration program for years and also ranks as one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, especially during the summer holiday season.

Steinar Bjerkestrand, director of the restoration work going on at Nidaros, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Thursday morning that he immediately felt “both angry and sad” upon hearing of the vandalism, “maybe most sad because there are people who wanted to do this.”

He said the windows can be repaired, but the work will be difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and will obstruct the cathedral’s main facade while being carried out. The glass panes that were damaged are in the middle of the cathedral’s high, richly decorated western wall, in a series of windows depicting Jesus Christ in the middle, with the forces of good on the left and bad on the right when viewed from inside. The vandals hit the glass on right, which appears on the left when viewed from outdoors.

“It’s no simple job,” Bjerkestrand told NRK. “We have glass masters who specialize in this type of glass, and hopefully we have the right colors lying in storage from when these windows were last renovated. But it will be difficult to shift them out.” The windows were most recently restored during the 1930s.

For a photo of the damage, see NRK’s coverage from its Trøndelag office here.

Bjerkestrand said the vandalism is being reported to the police, who were calling for tips from the public to help them track down the vandals. Many people were gathered in central Trondheim Wednesday night for a large VG Lista outdoor concert, and the vandals reportedly managed to get away in the crowds.

They face heavy fines and custody, not only because of the damage caused and its costs but because they struck a national monument under historic preservation orders, which sharpens the punishment.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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