New light shines on historic fortress

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At the darkest time of the year in Norway, the country’s defense establishment has finally been able to shine some new light on the historic Akershus Fortress and Castle in Oslo. After a major renovation project, the fortress perched above the capital’s inner harbour is now literally in the spotlight.

Oslo's historic Akershus Fortress & Castle is now basking in new light. PHOTO: Forsvarsdepartementet/Erik Selmer

Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress & Castle is now basking in new light. PHOTO: Forsvarsdepartementet/Erik Selmer

Norway’s new defense minister, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, could ceremoniously flick the switch on a new lighting system designed by Erik Selmer, whom Søreide credited for shining up the fortress’ walls, towers and buildings “in all their glory.”

The project involved far more than “changing a few light bulbs,” as Søreide said during the official ceremony late last week. Instead, the outdoor flood-lighting system was completely rehabilitated in a new design and using new technology.

“It’s been a meeting between human creativity, technology, architecture and history,” Søreide said. “We wanted to see the fortress, its church and castle illuminated against the dark night sky.”

Søreide also noted that the system is both “energy-saving and future-oriented,” but mostly a new boost for the Akershus complex that’s often referred to as “the pride of Oslo.” It dates back nearly 800 years and still serves as a national symbol. It has defended the original settlements in what became the capital, been a seat of royal and national power and the site of dramatic historical events, not least the imprisonments and executions carried out during the occupation of Norway during World War II.

Today it’s also a popular tourist attraction, housing the Norwegian Resistance Museum, the castle museum itself and the country’s military museum. Akershus is used for state dinners and important official events and its sprawling grounds behind the fortress itself now house the Office of the Prime Minister as well. It remains a royal property, with the Kings Guards on patrol at all times, and its church is the site of the royal mausoleum, where Norway’s late modern monarchs are laid to rest.

Søreide said she felt like she was” lighting up the national heritage” when she officially lit up Akershus last Thursday. The fortress remains very much open to the public year-round, and is the site of concerts, exhibitions and, most recently, even a new restaurant located on the wall with its sweeping views over the city.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund