Page images

Frelsers Kirke-dates from 1699; it is a cruciform structure of brick, with a spire surmounting the Western Cross. Trinity Church is also an imposing brick edifice; the interior, with its granite columns and its noble dome, is very effective. In the pretty cemetery-called the Vor Frelsers Gravlund, in which the graves, according to Norwegian custom, are every Saturday decked by loving hands with fresh flowers-is a cast-iron monument to the poet Wergeland.

We must briefly note the remaining buildings and institutions of Christiania. Of the establishments for science, art, industry, and education, there are many-all doing

[graphic][merged small]

Hospitals and

good work, but not presenting special points of interest for our notice. other charitable institutions are also numerous: all classes of infirmity or need are provided for as in other Christian cities. Theatres do not appear to flourish, but there is an open-air resort called the Klingenberg, with music and dramatic entertainments. It must be said, however, that places of this kind do not seem to be amongst the "felt wants" of Christiania. The municipal, judicial, financial, and other public buildings need not be particularised.

Passing now to the environs, the Castle of Agershuus first claims notice. Its original construction is lost in the mists of antiquity. History shows us Prince Erik laying fierce siege to the place at the dawn of the fourteenth century. Several times the castle has been enlarged and strengthened by its possessors, and knocked out of repair by various enemies. Its severest siege was in 1716, when Charles XII. of Sweden-the king with "a frame of adamant, a soul of fire "-tried in vain to capture it. The meadow which marks

the site of his camp still bears the name of the "Svenske Sletten" (the "Swedish Field”). The ramparts are now a pleasant and popular promenade, shaded with limes, and affording fine views of the harbour and fjord. The castle is used as a convict prison, and contains a small museum of arms and armour.

On the island of Hovedöen, about a mile south of the castle, are the ruins of a Cistercian Monastery, founded in 1147 by English monks from Lincolnshire, and dedicated to the Virgin and the Anglo-Saxon King Edmund. When the banished King Christian II. sailed up the fjord to attack Agershuus, the abbot of Hovedöen cast in his lot with the tyrant. But Christian was repulsed, and the abbot, who found he had mistaken the winning side, saw his monastery destroyed and the monks sent adrift.

Two miles to the south-west of the city, on the lovely peninsula of Ladegaardsöen, stands the romantic royal villa of Oscarshall—a miniature Elizabethan castle, surrounded by beautiful grounds. In very early times, Euphemia, the queen of Haakon V., held her court here, and in sylvan attire danced and sported with lords and ladies. Her daughter gave the estate to the Hovedöen Monastery, but after the reverses of that establishment the property came back to the crown. The present mausion was built by King Oscar in 1847; it is a charmingly situated summer residence, with delightful views. Medallions of Norwegian kings and statesmen adorn the drawing-room, and in the dining-room are the original paintings by the native artist, Tidemand, depicting the life of a Norwegian peasant from his cradle to his grave. The castle is built on a projecting rock eighty feet in height, and the view from the balcony, or, still better, from the tower, is magnificent.

Of numerous other picturesque spots near Christiania we can only mention the hill of Egeberg, four hundred feet high, a pleasant two hours' drive from the city, passing the Oslo Church, in the graveyard of which is buried Mr. Bradshaw, of railway-guide celebrity. From the summit of the hill the view across the fjord or inland is superb. Von Buch likens the landscape to the Savoy side of Geneva, towards the Jura mountains, only with the added attractions of the fjord and its accessories. "Here are ships in the harbour, ships behind the beautiful little islands which front the bay, and other sails appear in the distance. The majestic forms of the steep hills, rising in the horizon over other hills which bound the country to the westward, are worthy of a Claude Lorraine."


Throndhjem (the "Throne's Home") was, prior to the union of Norway and Sweden, the capital of the former kingdom. A two days' journey of 707 miles by railway, or a much more picturesque tour of 830 miles by way of the Mjosen lake and the Dovre Fjeld mountains, requiring a week for its comfortable accomplishment, separates the city from Christiania. It stands on a peninsula at the mouth of the winding Nid, with a beautiful fjord washing its northern shore. Dr. Clarke thus describes his approach to the city: "Having ascended a steep eminence, and turning suddenly round the corner of a rock, the glorious prospect of the city of Throndhjem, covering a peninsula in the finest bay the eye ever beheld, appeared far below us. Its rising spires and white glittering edifices immediately reminded the author of the city and beautiful Bay of Naples, to which it is somewhat similar. In the latter the grandeur of Vesuvius, the cliffs and hanging vineyards of Sorrento, the

shining heights and shores of Capri, with all the orange-groves of Baiæ, possess local attractions which place them above everything else in Europe; but considered only in point of picturesque beauty the Bay of Throndhjem does not yield to the Bay of Naples."

The ancient name of the city was Nidavus, founded in 996 by Olaf Trygveson, the renowned Northern hero, of whom Carlyle says: "A magnificent far-shining man; more expert in all bodily exercises' than any man had ever been before him or after was. Could keep five daggers in the air, always catching the proper fifth by its handle, and sending it aloft again; could shoot supremely, throw a javelin with either hand; and, in fact, in battle usually threw two together. These with swimming, climbing, and leaping were the then admirable Fine Arts of the North; in all of which Trygveson appears to have been the Raphael and the Michael Angelo at once." Olaf, converted to Christianity by a hermit in the Scilly Isles, and a second time at the court of our Ethelred, made the subduing of refractory Northern heathen his great aim in life. He smashed idols and battle-axed their worshippers with equal celerity, paving the way for gentler apostles. His nephew Olaf II. followed in his footsteps; for his zeal in spreading Christianity with fire and sword he became known as St. Olaf; and his body, when he was slain in battle, was brought hither by faithful followers. Miraculous circumstances took place about his grave. He was reinterred in the Church of St. Clement (first built by himself), the earliest of Christian fanes in that Northern land. He was accepted as the patron saint of Norway, and his adoration forms a conspicuous feature in the history of Nidavus. Two or three churches succeeded each other before the present edifice was begun in the eleventh century. Great fires have four or five times reduced the Cathedral to its present (or recent) dimensions, but the work of restoration is now going forward. The richly-gilt silver shrine of St. Olaf is said to have weighed 7,000 ounces, and the outer coffin of gold and silver was lavishly adorned with precious stones. In 1557 these treasures were carried off by the Swedes, and the saint's body was buried in some part of the Cathedral and lost sight of. The Tomb-house at the eastern end, which Fergusson compares to Becket's Crown at Canterbury, is the glory of the church; columns arranged octagonally support a dome. The Chapter-house is the oldest portion of the edifice, and is considered to be part of the Church of St. Clement which preceded the present erection. By the Constitution of 1814 the sovereigns of Norway must be crowned by the Bishop of Throndhjem in this Cathedral.

The modern city of Throndhjem, as it has been called for the last four hundred years, is a clean, quiet town. From a large square or market-place, with a fountain in the centre, open out the four principal streets, across which run numerous others at right angles. Since the great fire in 1841, the houses have been rebuilt of brick or stone. No town in Norway has suffered so much from fire as Throndhjem. There have been fourteen large conflagrations in three hundred and fifty years, and on four occasions the city was all but completely destroyed. Two or three times it has been besieged and captured by the Swedes. In 1600, as well as in one or two previous years, it suffered terribly from the plague. In 1791 it was flooded; but from all its troubles the city has risen again and prospered. Since 1815 the population has doubled, being now nearly 23,000.

The ancient palace of the Norugan king, or rather what remains of it, is now an arvenal, with an interesting nem i am ei se Troligen has a museum, a litary with wome nun MSS., ex tange, bank, ai numer as other buldings not calling for special remark. It manufactures age and ther articles of grat-skin, trinkets, rides, From its in phobling paris sme vesls that are highly spoken of for their Te labour protected by a brakwater is nt of malå &verant, as only vesela drawing under twelve fet as apprais the page; but a revertueless does a condenble export trade in timber, driel and waited fish, tar, and eppen. The inhabitants are characterised by a general air of eomf it and well-being, and their good loks are proverbial.

and ter 2

Out in the fjord opposite to the city is the little fitness klibi or rock of Munkholm, once, as its name indicates, a monastery. Here stood, in fat, the first Benedictine house established in Norway, finned by Canute the Great in 1.25 4.5. All that now remains of it is a low tower within the fortress which was erected in the seventeenth century. It was for some time the state prison of Norway, and here Count Peder Griffenfield Peter Schumacher was confined for eighteen years, till he rivalled the feat of Bonnivard, and left a deep channel in the stone door, worn by pacing up and down. There are pleasant views of the fjord from the ramparts of this dismantled stronghold.

Two miles south of the city are the beautiful falls of Lerfossen. The upper fall is the more picturesque, nearly a hundred feet in height, and four hundred and fifty feet broad. The spray rises grandly like a thick column of smoke from where the huge volume of water rushes into the gulf below. The lower fall is eighty-two feet high and a hundred and twenty-two feet broad, being divided into two parts by rocks. Eight times the river Nid leaps down in cataracts during its fifteen-mile course from lake Sælbo to Throndhjem.


Yet one more Norwegian city claims our notice. Bergen is a thriving sea-port, situated on a rocky promontory at the head of a deep bay. It possesses a fine harbour with two good approaches, and behind it tower the lofty hills which figure as the Seven Mountains on the arms of the city. King Olaf the Tranquil built the city in 1070, and, by reason of its excellent harbour and other advantages, it very soon became a formidable rival to Throndhjem. The coronation of several kings, and many other events connected with their stormy history, took place here. Of its founder, Olaf Kyrre (son of Harold Haardrada, to whom reference has been made), Carlyle speaks as "a slim-built, witty-talking, popular, and pretty man, with uncommonly bright eyes, and hair like floss wilk." His grandson Magnus was taken prisoner here in 1135, and deprived of sight by a rival claimant, Harold Gylle, who reigned in his stead. But Harold was slain in his bed in the following year, and henceforth the history of Bergen for a time is a tale of murders and massacres. "These two kindreds (reckoned to be authentic enough, Haarfagr people, both of them) proved now to have become a veritable crop of dragons' teeth; and mutually fought, plotted, struggled, as if it had been their life's business; never ended fighting, and seldom long intermitted it, till they had exterminated one another, and did at last all rest in death." Towards the end of the twelfth century there was fierce

war in and round Bergen between the usurper Sverre (founder of a new dynasty) and his fierce peasant warriors, the Birkebeiner, on the one side, and the Bagler, or loyal party, on the other. A sort of national parliament, held at Bergen in 1223, declared Haakon Haakonsön to be the legitimate King of Norway. He reigned for nearly forty years, and under his rule Bergen flourished exceedingly, and became the wealthiest and most populous city

[graphic][merged small]


in Norway. Over thirty churches and convents and numerous fine buildings adorned the town; amongst them the grand Banqueting Hall of King Haakon was conspicuous. succeeding times strangers gradually acquired a footing here. King Haakon had encouraged the English, and was a contracting party to the first "Commercial Treaty" that England ever made. But the Germans, who had been once chased from the town by King Sverre for selling spirituous liquors, got the firmest footing, established themselves by treaty, built their own Commercial Hall, and secured various privileges, until during the sixteenth

« PreviousContinue »