Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is, as it was in the Middle Ages, the final goal for the weary pilgrim. On arrival, after walking the pilgrims’ path you should according to tradition, approach slowly before walking three times around the cathedral, following the same direction as the passage of the Sun.
The oldest Nordic cathedral
Walking around the church, the majestic building that is Norway’s National Shrine will undoubtedly impress you. The construction is in the gothic-style, using soapstone. The gorgeous green patina of the copper spire with its golden cross and orb are a long-distance landmark that crowns the city. We recommend that you take the time to experience the church. Taking a guided tour is highly recommended.
Nidaros Cathedral is situated in a lovely historic area in the middle of Trondheim on a natural promontory formed by the winding river Nidelven. The historic archipelago is located just beside the cathedral and along the river south of the archipelago you will find the large park area called Marinen and the location of St. Olav's spring. The story associated with the spring states that it sprang up where St. Olav’s coffin was excavated the year after his death, and thus it became a point of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.
Nidaros Pilgrim Centre
The portal of happiness
Both the fjord and the beautiful Nidelven surround the centre of Trondheim. Several bridges cross the river, but the most famous of all, and the pride of the city, is “Bybroen” (the City Bridge) with “Lykkens Portal” (the portal of happiness).
From the middle of the bridge, you can look down towards the old pier, and on the other side is Bakklandet, a cosy neighbourhood, with fun shops, lovely cafés and colourfully painted small wooden houses.
The cosiest café in Scandinavia
The cultural city of Trondheim
In 1997 Trondheim celebrated its 1000-year anniversary, and it is historically one of the most powerful cities in Norway. In days gone by the city was an important pilgrimage destination, and the legacy of St. Olav is still visible in many parts of the city. Today, Trondheim is an active and vibrant city where cultural life flourishes. One of Norway's largest cultural festivals, the Olav’s festival, is held here every year around Olsok (Olaf’s Wake, a national day commemorating the death of St. Olav), and the (approximately) 200,000 visitors get to experience concerts with prominent national and international artists at outdoor arenas, in concert halls and in the city's churches. There are talks, lectures, knight tournaments and medieval markets, to name but a few among the 200 events.
In recent years, the Olav’s festival has started with a pilgrims’ breakfast at Lian, whereupon the participants walk the last leg of the Gudbrandsdalsleden in to the city and the opening event. Many pilgrims come to the city during these days, and get to experience a festival that is something out of the ordinary.
Facts about Trondheim
- The city is located at the mouth of Nidelven, where the river flows into Trondheim Fjord
- Founded in 997 by Olav Tryggvason
- Norway's capital between 1013 and 1217
- Norway's third largest city with around 180,000 inhabitants
- Norway's largest university, NTNU, is centrally located in the city
- Trondheim is a university city with over 20,000 students
- The town has an idyllic location with a small city-centre characterized by well-preserved old wooden houses
- Norway's national sanctuary, Nidaros Cathedral, is located near the river and the city-centre
- Trondheim is surrounded by woodland on both the east and west side, and you can get to the forest in half an hour from anywhere in the city centre.
- Trondhjemsrosen (The Rose of Trondheim) is Trondheim’s municipality flower. The rose was used symbolically as early as medieval times, and is now in use on the city flag. You can find it as a decoration of many of the city's entrance doors.
Facts about the Nidaros Cathedral
- Norway's national sanctuary and the oldest medieval church in the Nordic region
- After demolishing an old chapel located there, Olav Kyrre started the construction of the stone church in 1070
- The Archbishopric was founded in 1153. After a journey in England in 1183, Archbishop Eystein Erlandson changed the construction of the cathedral from Romanesque to High Gothic style, being inspired by the church buildings he saw there.
- The base for the mighty West Front was laid in 1248 and later the nave was built in High Gothic style
- The cathedral has been damaged by several fires, the first in 1328, then in 1432 and in 1531
- The main tower spire blew down in 1689 and again in 1708 and 1719, the cathedral burned
- The Nidaros Cathedral Restoration Workshop was established in 1869, commencing the modern restoration period
- The restoration work has been continuous for the last 150 years and is ongoing
- The cathedral is 50 metres wide and 100 metres long. The spear is 91 m high
- The West Front has 76 statues and several reliefs. The large Rose window in the centre of the wall is 8 metres in diameter. Presumably, the decor and statues on the West Front were originally painted in strong colours