Things to see and do - Oslo
Oslo, a very natural capital :
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Oslo, a very natural capital
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The port of Pipervika lies at the innermost point of Oslo's fjord, where it was established under the shelter and protection of the Akerhus fortress eastward. On the other shore, bars and sidewalk cafés sprawl along Aker Brygge's wharves while fishermen offer customers shrimp and other fried food. The old warehouses have been refurbished into an ultra-modern complex that is both shopping gallery and recreational centre.
Norwegian Romanticism, essentially illustrated by the many paintings by J.C. Dahl and the well-known Bridal Voyage in the Hardanger Fjord by Tidemand and Gude, tries more than anything else to depict Nature's many riches. Between Realism and Impressionism, Thaulow and C. Krohgs worked with a new originality. Munch, despite having a museum entirely to himself, is present here as well through work from the 1990s that often reworks subjects of his such as The Scream. The earlier 'Matisse school' (P. Krohg, Revold or Sorensen with his Golgotha), illustrates Norwegian Cubism. Alongside this Norwegian work that is little-known abroad, the Gallery also possesses some European Old Masters. From Spain, a Greco masterpiece (The Repentence of St Peter) and works by Goya, Ribera (Youth with a Louse); from the Netherlands, Ruysdael, Rubens (St John the Evangelist), Rembrandt, Van Dyck (Portrait of Karell Van Mallery); Lucas Cranach I with a Garden of Delights and two splendid Friedrich works (a Moonlight and a Mountain Landscape) which represent the Germanic countries. France is in a choice position with an almost complete range of works covering the 19C. The collection runs from Delacroix to the Realists (Courbet, Corot) and the Impressionists (Degas, Renoir, Manetand Monet with The Seine at Argenteuil and Rain at Étretat) or those who followed them (four paintings by Cézanne, a Self-Portrait by Van Gogh, Breton landscapes by Gauguin). The 20C includes a 1912 Guitar by Picasso. Indeed a museum not to be missed!
The peninsula of Bygdøy stretches, amoeba-like, out into Oslo's fjord. It lies to the west of the capital and is home to five great museums which are for the most part devoted to Norway's maritime activities. It is a residential area with a great many gardens to the north (where the Oscar I palace is hidden, built in the mid-19C) English Neo-Gothic style. It can be reached by car or by boat, from the dock before City Hall.
Its two tall red-brick towers are beacons for boats coming into the fjord. Highly functional in style, it has a a modern decor in homage to the nation's history through its daily life. It is here in the City Hall salons that every 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death (1833-1896), that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded (the other Nobels are given in Stockholm, Nobel's country, by the Swedish Academy).
Karl-Johans Gate was cut in 1840 from east to west, from the central station to the new Royal Palace. Karl-Johans Gate serves all the official buildings or their immediate areas. The Cathedral of the Holy Saviour, built between 1664 and 1697 but completely restored in the 19C, has nothing original left except for its pulpit and its altarpiece carved with figures. The ceiling is decorated with a Biblically-inspired contemporary fresque (1936-1950) measuring 1 500 m2. The austere Parliament, is home to a famous Wegerland painting depicting the signing at Eidsvoll, an event that gave Norway a Constitution (and autonomy from Sweden (1814)). The National Theatre (with statues of Ibsen and Bjornson on its square) is a few steps from the Ibsen Museum. The thoroughfare then heads into the Palace gardens. The Palace park, a vast space open to the public, fits seamlessly into the city (no fence, no wall), an emblem of how close the Norwegians are to Nature, be it even in the capital's heart.
This museum traces Norway's cultural history from the Middle Ages. It consists of 140 buildings typical of rural architecture, in the woods from each region. Among these, the wooden stave churches (stavkiker) of Norwegian tradition are noteworthy. They first appeared during the Viking period (10C) and then spread rapidly throughout the country. They were originally built around a stav (post), were reduced in number by fires, and were finally saved from being entirely forgotten by the master of Romantic landscapes, J.C.Dahl. Originally made of a wall of staves, they gradually evolved into an architectural ordering around a central nave, flanked with side aisles and extended with a semi-circular apse. The original blind walls came to have window frames, thereby providing via light for the interior's decoration, which consisted especially of mural painting on wood. One of the great particularities of this type of church is the roof, a structure of stacked levels. The side aisles (which at first served to protect weapons left at the building's entrance) are surmounted with a roof structure sheltering the nave, which is itself topped with a roof protecting the chancel. Seen from the outside, the church gives the impression of being a unified yet patchwork structure, its parts gradually piled up on themselves over the course of time, as if the faithful could be counted by the number of roofs...
In 1913 the architect Arneberg conceived a cross-shaped building to house the three ships found at the edge of Oslo's fjord: the Tun ship, discovered in 1867, the Gokstad in 1880 and the Oseberg in 1904. This last ship , a long vessel measuring 21.m, propelled by 32 rowers, lies in the nave. It is a noblewoman's sarcophagus (some believe she was the queen Asa) accompanied by her servants' bodies. The ship was found perfectly preserved, doubtlessly owing to the layer of dense clay protecting against air and water. Jewels, a chariot, sledges, all adorned with carved animals and human figures were found in the ship; they are all presented in the exhibition cases extending the nave. The Gokstad ship (24 m long and 5 m wide) occupies the left wing; it contains the remains of a 60-year-old man. In 1893 an exact copy was made of this ship, which draws very little water, to cross the Atlantic, reliving the exploit of Leif Eirikson who landed on the American coast some five hundred years before Christopher Columbus. In the right wing the Tun ship has been maintained in the same rather deteriorated condition in which it was found. This museum unquestionably leaves the visitor with two impressions: that of looking on History, but also that of looking on Myth, that of these sea-going vessels which so haunted the imagination of people at the start of the 11C, spreading terror and panic as they grew near...