Akershus Fortress - History and Facts | History Hit

Akershus Fortress

Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress has been a vital stronghold and royal residence in Oslo since the 14th century.

Peta Stamper

19 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning) has been a vital stronghold and royal residence in Oslo, Norway, since the 14th century. Over the centuries, different figures put their mark on Akershus Fortress including King Christian, although it would suffer from neglect in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Now fully restored, Akershus Fortress is both a popular tourist attraction and a site used for official government and state functions.

Akershus Fortress history

Also known as Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott), it was begun in 1299 under King Hakon V to replace Tønsberg as one of Norway’s most important castles. Hakon had Akershus Fortress built in response to earlier attacks on Oslo by a Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg. After the attack, it was clear Oslo needed a stronger defensive heart.

The fortress first saw battle in 1308 when the Swedish attacked and took the throne. Akershus was besieged again in 1523 by Swedish soldiers who were chased out by Oslo’s residents when they burnt down their own homes around the fortress. Akershus Fortress’ location by the sea gave Norway a key strength in protecting trade by sea during the early modern period. Whoever controlled Akershus, controlled Norway.

The Akershus Fortress surrendered without bloodshed to the Nazi forces in 1940 when the Norwegian government fled the city during Operation Weserübung. During World War Two, people were executed by the Nazi occupiers at Akershus, including members of the Pelle resistance group. After the war, 8 Norwegian war criminals were also tried and executed at the fortress.

Akershus Fortress today

Today, there’s plenty to see at Akershus Fortress. The castle boasts everything from the former living quarters of medieval Danish-Norwegian royalty to dank dungeons and also the castle church, now a military church. Akershus Fortress is also home to the Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum, particularly significant considering the site’s ties to the Nazi occupation.

Without charge, join state visitors in exploring the Akershus . From the fortress, great views over he fjord and historical heart of Oslo illustrate just how vital Akershus was for medieval rulers of Norway.

Getting to Akershus Fortress

Located by the waterside, Akershus Fortress is hard to miss. If you are using public transport, the Oslo tram number 12 will take you to Kontraskjæret stop, a 500m walk from the museum. For drivers, there is car parking nearby the museum at Akershusstranda on the waterfront.

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