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Trondheim, Norway


Trondheim, Norway - Antique Shop in Trondheim
Antique Shop in Trondheim

The city of Trondheim rose to fame as the capital city during the late Viking Age. The city sits on the water, but is protected from the Norwegian Sea by a number of islands just off the coast, making the harbor somewhat difficult to access. This meant the Viking sailors, who knew the waters well and who had excellent navigation skills, were the only sailors with the knowledge to regularly access the city itself. Another advantage the city of Trondheim has is that the waters surrounding the city rarely freeze due to the oceanic currents, which also make the winters a bit warmer than expected and summer a bit cooler.

Today Trondheim is a city that may seem small (with only 170,000 people) and out of the way, but this city has been and continues to be a leader in a number of fields. Being the capital city of Norway for some time it has a history few other places in the country can match. Even after losing its status as the capital, the city has continued to progress and is home to some of the country's finest modern buildings and a thriving university, which gives the city a youthful and vibrant feeling.

History & Background

Prior to the 800s the city and region was inhabited, but remained small and held little power. With the growth of the Viking Age the city slowly grew in power and wealth and in the 700s and early 800s the people essentially ruled themselves on a local level as they had elected bodies of representatives, a radical concept for the time.

As Trondheim grew in power during the Viking Age Harald Fairhair (865-933) also gained power and was crowned king, making Trondheim the capital of the region (the city was then called Nidaros). As the Viking Age, their wealth, and their power expanded through the 900s, so too did the city of Trondheim.

With the fall of the Viking Age in the late 900s the city took a hit and shortly after this Christianity was introduced to Norway and its capital at the time, Trondheim. The people and kings were divided on the newly introduced religion, but eventually, when Olav Tryggvason (later St. Olav) was killed in 1000, Christianity took hold and the people overwhelmingly converted to this religion, partially with the help of a new royal family in power.

From this point until about the 1200s Trondheim was the center of the country, but also during this time wars were common as power struggles were common. The country and city were engulfed in civil war during much of the 1100s and in 1205-1206 a couple birkibeinars put the Norwegian prince, two-year old Haakon Haakonsson on their back and skied from Osterdalen to Trondheim to save the young prince's life and maintain their movement. The prince later went on to rule Norway from 1217 to 1263, ending the civil war in Norway and establishing peace.

However, by the time the political scene finally settled down, the Hanseatic League had already gained hold in Bergen as they established a monopoly on trade to and from the region, forcing all trade to go through Bergen. Trondheim received a further blow in about 1300 when the capital was moved to Oslo.

Despite the losses of power in the 1200 and 1300s, Trondheim maintained power in the form of the Catholic Church, who had its base in Norway centered in Trondheim. This last bit of power and influence was lost with the introduction of Protestantism in 1537. Since this time the city has fallen numerous times, primarily due to fires that have destroyed the city throughout the centuries.

The city again fell in 1940 during World War II to the Germans, who made the city a submarine base. Since the end of World War II Trondheim has continued to struggle politically and economically as those sectors have shifted to or remained in other cities. However, Trondheim has more recently become a thriving university city full of life, creativity, and is a growing cultural center.

Trondheim Today

Trondheim, Norway - Posters in Trondheim
Posters in Trondheim

Despite the incredible past as the capital of the Vikings, Trondheim today is a fairly modern city that feels more focused on the present and future than the past. About 20% of the city is made up of students, giving the city great energy and excitement. These students also dictate the city's entertainment, culture, and lifestyle as bars, restaurants, music venues, and sports venues are all in or near the city.

In part due to these students, the city is also a great sports destination. Being so accessible to nearby lands and incredible landscapes skiing is popular just outside the city limits and water activities like sailing are also common.

Historical & Architectural Sights

Archbishop's Palace Museum (Museet Erkebispegården): This building was the home to the city's Archbishop from the time of its construction in the 1100s until 1537 when Catholicism was replaced with Protestantism in Norway. The building is the oldest secular building in Norway and is very impressive; in addition to the structure itself, it is also home to a number of religious and historical exhibits. For more information visit their website at: www.nidarosdomen.no/en-GB/archbishops+palace.

Kristiansten Fortress (Kristiansten Festning): This fortress (1681-1684) protected the city for a couple centuries, but today only serves as a tourist sight overlooking the city.

Monk's Islet (Munkholmen): This island has been home to monks as the name would suggest, but it has also served as a fortress, prison, and a Nazi gun station during World War II. Today it makes a pleasant day trip to see both the island as well as views of Trondheim from the water.

Trondheim, Norway - Details on Nidaros Cathedral
Details on Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral (Nidarosdomen): This is Norway's most sacred and important church as it was built over the grave of St. Olav, who helped convert the people to Christianity in the 1000s. It was here that most Norwegian kings were coronated and crowned and many are also buried in the church. From the church's founding in 1070 it has been continuously expanded and re-built over time as renovations seem common even today. For more information visit their website at: www.nidarosdomen.no/en-GB/nidaros+cathedral.

Royal Residence (Stiftsgården): The Royal Residence (1774-1778) is the largest wooden palace in Norway, and today is the official residence of the royal family when in Trondheim. For more information visit their website at: www.nkim.no/stiftsgarden (Norwegian only).


Statue of Leif Ericson: This replica near the Customs Building pays homage to the famous Viking explorer, who was the first Europe to the Americas.

Statue of Olav Tryggvason: Standing in the city's central plaza, this statue honors Norway's patron saint.

Museums, Arts, & Entertainment

Archbishop's Palace Museum (Museet Erkebispegården): This building was the home to the city's Archbishop from the time of its construction in the 1100s until 1537 when Catholicism was replaced with Protestantism in Norway. The building is the oldest secular building in Norway and is very impressive; in addition to the structure itself, it is also home to a number of religious and historical exhibits. For more information visit their website at: www.nidarosdomen.no/en-GB/archbishops+palace.

Ringve Museum: This museum is the national museum of music as it boasts both historic and modern musical instruments, as well as modern props like lighting and other concert effects. For more information visit their website at: ringve.no/en/.

Rockheim: This is one of the city's newest attractions (opened in 2010) as it is home to the modern musical era, focused on rock, which lends its name to the museum. Most of the exhibits are for local artists, but the venue also has concerts and a restaurant with incredible city views. For more information visit their website at: www.rockheim.no/english/.

Sverresborg-Trøndelag Folk Museum (Sverresborg i Trondheim): This partial open air museum is built on the ruins of a historic castle, but today is more well-known for the cultural exhibits and wooden structures that represent people of the city and region. For more information visit their website at: www.sverresborg.no/english/.

Trondheim Museum of Arts (Trondheim Kunstmuseum): This museum houses the third largest art collection in Norway and much of the pieces on display are by Norwegian artists. For more information visit their website at: trondheimkunstmuseum.no/?lang=en.

Trondheim Science Museum (Vitensenteret i Trondheim): This museum is great for kids as many of the displays are hands-on interactive experiences. For more information visit their website at: www.vitensenteret.com (Norwegian only).

Areas & Neighborhoods of Interest

The area centered on "Nordre St.," which includes the Olav Tryggvason Gate and the Thomas Angells Gate is the heart of the city as many of the streets are pedestrian and nearly every store front is a shop or restaurant. This is the best place to see and feel the pulse of the city.


Trondheim is well connected domestically as they numerous transportation options. The city has one of the country's largest airports, which offer flights to all major Norwegian cities with a couple flights each day to large cities like Oslo and Bergen. The city is also a hub on the train lines as trains run north, south, and east on multiple lines. The city is also a fairly large passenger port city and most trains stop here on their trips along the coast. Buses are also a great way to get around, especially to many inland towns and cities that are not accessible by train lines; buses also service most large Norwegian cities.

International transportation to and from Trondheim is much more limited. The airport has a number of international routes, but primarily to nearby cities, such as Stockholm, London, and Berlin. The train lines heading east travel to Sweden, but due to the great distances, take some time.

Airport: Trondheim's airport, Værnes Airport is located about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from the city's center. The airport code is TRD and the airport's website is: www.avinor.no/en/airport/trondheim.

Train Station: Trondheim's main train station is located on the water near the center of town. For train times and schedules, their website is: www.nsb.no. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Bus Station: There are numerous private bus companies that service Trondheim. There are a couple bus stations and stops, but the main bus station is located next to the train station. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Local Transportation: Seeing Trondheim itself is best explored with the local bus system, which services most of the city as well as many of the suburbs. Additionally buses also run at night for those enjoying the city into the morning hours, but prices rise and routes are limited.

Official Websites

City of Trondheim: www.visittrondheim.no
Kingdom of Norway: www.visitnorway.com

Map & Directions

This page was last updated: August, 2013