The Akershus Fortress (or Akershus Festning in Norwegian) is a medieval castle and it is believed that its construction dates to the turn of the 14th century, during the reign of King Håkon V. The Fortress is one of Oslo’s top attractions as it is considered a national symbol owing to its role as the seat of the king and of government. The Fortress was also the backdrop to many important historical events that helped shape its history.
The History of the Akershus Fortress
King Håkon V used the castle as his residence. The castle was also home to many other royals, some of them significant figures in Scandinavian history. The popularity of the castle as a royal residence eventually lead to the capital being moved from Bergen to Oslo.
In 1624 there was a great fire in Oslo and King Christian IV decided to rebuild the city closer to Akershus Fortress, such was its importance. The Fortress was at that point remodeled into a renaissance castle and the castle functioned as a palace until the turn of the 19th century.
During the 17th and 18th century the fortress was also used as a prison. Many of Norways rebels, criminals and some well-known individuals were imprisoned there including the author Gjest Baardsen (1791-1849) and norwegian socialists.
World War II
Even though the Fortress was never successfully besieged (it survived numerous sieges over the centuries and was never captured in active battle), it was however surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940 when the Norwegian government evacuated Oslo. The Nazi’s used the fortress as a military camp, prison and a place to execute their prisoners and captives. Up to 40 members of a Norwegian resistance group, that led acts of sabotage against the Nazi’s, were amongst those who were executed there.
In 1945, the Germans handed over the Fortress to the Norwegian resistance movement and once the war was over, eight Norwegian traitors were executed at the fortress.
Akershus Fortress today
Today, the fortress is a popular place to host major events such as concerts, public holiday celebrations and ceremonies. The grounds of the fortress are free and open to all, and this is where you will find some of the best views of Oslo’s Fjord.
Within the Fortress you will find the Armed Forces Museum and if you visit the castle’s buildings you will find the final resting place of many of Norway’s kings and queens. The castle will take you on a journey through the history of Norway from the 1300s until this day... but be careful because there have reportedly been a few ghostly sightings over the years!
On our 3 hour walking tours, you will get a change to visit the famous fortress and be briefed on its history. You can book here! For further information regarding opening hours and upcoming events: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/product/?TLp=14900#product-info1