Seventy years after playing a major role in Norway’s war history, the island that’s home to the Oscarsborg Fortress has been going through a renaissance of sorts. The former military installation is open to the public for historical sightseeing and a wide range of cultural and recreational activities throughout the year.
Located in the narrowest part of the fjord south of Oslo, Oscarsborg has emerged as a prime destination for school groups, opera lovers, seminar participants, families having a day out and couples taking a mini-holiday.
After decades of restricted access and a certain amount of deterioration, the historic buildings on the island received a spurt of public and private investment starting about 10 years ago. The former coastal artillery operations at Oscarsborg were shut down, but the state-owned property was opened up for new forms of public use.
Under the auspices of the state agency Nasjonale Festningsverk, which is in charge of Norway’s historic defense installations, refurbishment began. Former military dining halls and accommodation were converted to restaurants and even a so-called “spa hotel,” while various organizations were allowed to start holding cultural events.
Now Oscarsborg is the site of a popular outdoor opera (external link, in Norwegian) performance every summer (this year a major production of Aida will be held in August). Other concerts are also held throughout the summer season, and efforts are being made to keep Oscarsborg open and alive all year round.
Summer can be idyllic, with a newly expanded boat harbor and several spots for swimming. The island is small, but trails abound for hiking and strolling.
Most important are the guided tours of the fortress and preserved military installations, including the underground facility from which the torpedo was fired that sank the German warship Blücher. Royal monuments abound as well, and the views from the island down the fjord and across to the coastal town of Drøbak are panoramic.
Ferries run to the island from Drøbak and from a former military pier north of Drøbak, and there’s the guest harbor as well.
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Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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