Oslo has a dramatic history. The first ca. 600 years of its life can today only be seen as a few ruins, after the town was moved in 1624 from the its original site since the second half of the 10th century, to its present location on the other side of the bay. Our tour therefore focuses on the period from early 17th to early 20th century history and architecture. However, a visit to the “Medieval Park” can be added to this tour, or to a tour of the Bjørvika waterfront development, which is adjacent to the medieval ruins

The reason for rebuiding the town, was to have it closer to Akershus Castle, so that it could be protected by the fortress. This was ordered by king Christian IV, who also lent his name to the new town, thus called Christiania until 1924, when its original name was restored. Our tour starts at the old market place, Christiania Torv, where some of Oslos’s oldest buildings are preserved. From here we walk to Akershus Castle, past the old Bank of Norway, where today the Museum of Architecture is located. An inside visit of the museum is possible, but this will add some time to the schedule. The bank, from 1830, was one of the first of a series of national institutions, after the breakup of the union with Denmark in 1814, when Christiania assumed the functions of a capital city. The building was restored and a new pavillion added in 2009, one of the last works of arch. Sverre Fehn, Norway’s only Pritzker Prize winning architect.

We walk around the medieval Akershus Castle, which was built ca. 1300, though much altered and extended into a large fortress in the following centuries. We then move into the so-called “Kvadratur”, the 17th century city with its regular grid of streets. Here we see the contrast between the few remaining houses from the 16- and 1700s, and the buildings that replaced them in the boom-time of the 1890s, the so-called “commercial palaces” with exclusively shopping and office functions, pushing the residential function out of the city center. We also see some transformation projects, like the former main post office from the 1920s, which now has been rebuilt into flats and commercial space.

Oslo’s main street, Karl Johan gate, is at the northern end of the original city layout. Along this 1,5 km long street, from the old East Railway Station to the Royal Palace in the west, several national institutions are located. We see the Cathedral of Oslo (1697) and surrounding market halls from the 1850s. This is a nice place for a coffebreak.

Further up the street we pass the Horngården, Oslo’s first “high-rise” building from 1930, by arch. Lars Backer, who was a pioneer of the Modern Movement in Norway. Here we have the famous view down the western part of Karl Johan, toward the Royal Palace. We see the Parliament building (arch. Emil Victor Langlet 1866), and the central urban park Eidsvolls Plass. The old university (arch. Chr. Grosch 1854) and the Royal Palace (arch. H. D. F. Linstow 1849) complete the walk along Olso’s main street. The last project of the tour is Oslo City Hall (arch. Arneberg & Poulsson 1930-50), a “modern classic” which also resulted in a rebuilding of the whole city center in this area, opening up the town towards the waterfront. Inside visit in office hours (the city hall may be closed to visitors for special events).


Duration:      Ca. 4-4,5 hours, incl. coffee break, but not lunch
Transport:      Walking
Services:      Experienced local architect as guide, meet and greet at pick up point
Languages:      Scandinavian, English, German
Group size:      Max. 30 pax
Price:   Please contact us for a quote
Not included:   Consumption at café, entry fees (optional)


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