Nidaros Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Nidaros Cathedral

Trondheim, Trondelag, Norway

Nidaros Cathedral is a huge Gothic cathedral in Norway, is built over the burial site of St. Olav, the first Christian king of Norway.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Nidaros Cathedral

Considered a national shrine, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is one of the most prominent cathedrals in Norway and was built over the burial site of Olav Haraldsson, later St. Olav, the first Christian king of Norway.

Nidaros Cathedral history

The first incarnation of Nidaros Cathedral was built in the second half of the 11th century and construction continued for at least a hundred years.

The cathedral is built over the tomb of St. Olav, the Viking king who brought Christianity to Norway. In the Middle Ages, a silver coffin with St. Olav’s remains was placed on the high altar of the cathedral. However, during the reformation, the shrine was sent to Denmark to be converted into silver coins and Olav’s remains were buried in a secret place in the cathedral. To this day, no one knows exactly where.

Work began in 1070, and the cathedral was completed around 1300. After several fires and a lack of maintenance in the Middle Ages, the cathedral was in very poor condition. In 1869 extensive restorations were begun, and today the cathedral is again restored to its original grandeur.

The stained glass dates from the early 20th century. The sculptures on the west front are by leading Norwegian artists, and the most recent was erected in 1983. Below the nave is the crypt with headstones from the middle ages.

Nidaros Cathedral today

Today the cathedral is mostly of Gothic design and reflects the work of a significant 19th century restoration project. The main façade of the cathedral is found on its western side and boasts a huge rose window surrounded by ornate statues and stained glass decoration. Inside, these windows can be seen in their true glory with their vibrant colours providing an impressive spectacle. Also within the cathedral is the medieval crypt, which includes a number of tombs and burial stones.

Nidaros Cathedral remains a popular attraction with both pilgrims and tourists and boasts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Tours are available at certain points throughout the day, though visitors are welcome to explore on their own.

Alongside Nidaros Cathedral are two other major tourists draws, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Royal Regalia – combined tickets are available for all three sites.

Getting to Nidaros Cathedral

The cathedral is around a half an hour drive from Trondheim Airport. It is within easy walking distance of other attractions in Trondheim. St Olavs gate light rail station is nearby and there are several bus stops in the vicinity.

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