Large parts of Oslo’s Akershus Fortress and Castle have been closed to the public, because of safety fears. The 700-year-old fortess is fighting a losing battle against rot and crumbling mortar.
A total of 58 of the fortress’ 59 buildings need attention, requiring as many as 97 different projects to restore the complex to its former glory.
The Akerhus fortress dominates the Oslo waterfront. Its battlements and towers are perched on a hill overlooking the fjord, City Hall and the Aker Brygge commercial and residential complex.
“We have found that some areas are dangerous and consequently we have had to cordon them off from the public,” Nina Eidem, director of Nasjonalt Festningverk (NFV), the public agency that maintains old fortresses, told newspaper Dagsavisen.
Many repairs were carried out during the 1990s, but materials used were the wrong kind and the concrete is already beginning to break up. Along with the military construction agency, Forsvarets byggtjeneste (FBT), NFV has attempted to fix the most dangerous problems during the last two years. Repairs will be stepped up if the government makes enough money available.
Akershus is one of 14 historic fortresses in Norway. The sorry state of these monuments was only fully realized after the Parliament ordered a report in 2007. At that time it was thought the cost of the necessary maintenance would be around NOK 1.6 billion (USD 280 million). The revised figure stands at NOK 2.9 billion (USD 500 million).
Both budgets and time scales have been altered significantly. The original plan was to have completed the necessary work by this year. Now the finishing date for all the fortresses is put at 2020.
“The repairs require a lot of heavy and costly construction before ordinary maintenance can resume,” says Eidem to Dagsavisen. Next year’s state budget proposes using NOK 60. 2 million for upkeep of the national fortresses. “Work has started at most of the sites. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but the requirement is very substantial,” section leader Kristian Borhaven at FBT told Dagsavisen.