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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Oslo, Norway

Welcome back to my blog! Today is my last post from beautiful Norway and I have saved the capital for last - it's Oslo!

Above: Oslo Harbour.

Oslo was founded around 1048 by King Harald III, and after being destroyed by a fire in 1624, the city was moved closer to Akershus Castle (next to where our ship docked) during the reign of King Christian IV. The city is the economic and governmental centre of Norway and is also a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping. It has an estimated population of about 1 million people.

Above: Looking towards the Royal Palace (Slottet) which was built in the early 1800s and is the official residence of the present Norwegian Monarch with 173 rooms.

Oslo is built in a horseshoe shape on the shores of the Oslofjord and limited in most directions by hills and forests. As a result, any point within the city is relatively close to the forest which has resulted in a city very much shaped and influenced by nature.

Above: The Storting, Norway's national parliament which lies at the opposite end of the street to the Royal Palace.

I did a walking tour of the city, and we had the opportunity to visit Oslo's Ice Bar which is the only permanent bar in Norway made entirely of ice. The bar is kept at minus five centigrade at all times and everything is made out of crystal clear ice, harvested from the frozen Torne River in Northern Sweden. Even the glasses are made of ice and once we were equipped with fur-lined cloaks, we entered the bar for a drink!

Above: Oslo's Ice Bar.

Oslo houses over 20 theatres, such as the Norwegian Theatre and the National Theatre located at Karl Johan Street. The National Theatre is the largest theatre in Norway and is situated between the royal palace and the parliament building. The names of Ludvig Holberg, Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson are engraved on the façade of the building over the main entrance.

Above: The National Theatre.

Oslo has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons, and you have probably heard of Anders Behring Breivik and the atrocities he committed on 22 July 2011. Oslo was hit by a bomb blast that ripped through the city central government district, killing at least eight people prior to a shooting spree on the island of Utøya on which killed 69 youths.

Above: The City Hall.

To end on a more upbeat note, you have probably also heard of the Nobel Peace Prize (!) and the ceremonial presentation of the prize takes place every year in the City Hall (above) on 10th December. The construction started in 1931, but was paused by the outbreak of World War II, before the official inauguration in 1950. Designed by Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson, the Hall houses the city council, city administration, and art studios and also features a 49-bell carillon on the roof of the eastern tower which plays every hour.

Above: The main space inside the City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my blogs about Norway - it is probably my favourite country that I have visited so far and I hope I've given you a glimpse of its diversity and beauty.

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