Akershus Castle and Fortress - over 700 years of history

Akershus Castle and Fortress in Oslo

A trip through the Akershus Castle is a trip through the history of Norway. Akershus has played a significant role for more than 700 years. The 22nd of June 1300 is the first time the castle is mentioned. King Haakon V Magnusson then signed an important document while he was with his ships south of Oslo. One part of this document was to "lie in Aker’s Point”. It tells us that even then there was a building that could easily be defended there.

 

The legendary Queen Margrete - founder of the Kalmar Union in 1389 - lived in the castle in medieval times. 10 years old, the Danish princess was married to the Norwegian King Haakon VI, and as a young queen, she lived at Akershus Castle, where one of the great halls bear her name, the Margareta Hall.  During her reign, she managed to unite Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and the countries flourished under the only reigning queen of Norway has had.

One fateful night in 1527 a lightning struck the castle, and large parts  of it were totally destroyed by the great fire. Peasants from the area of Romerike, north of Oslo, were forced to participate in the reconstruction, and soon built a considerably more efficient castle. One of the largest and most widely used halls is called the Romerike Hall to commemorate the peasants.

King Christian IV is credited for making Akershus into a true renaissance castle. As our king with the longest reign (1588-1648), he ensured that the castle evolved in step with the nation.

Towards the end of the 1600s started the decline, and in 1721 the state was so bad that King Frederik IV was considering tearing down the whole castle. Interiors gradually disappeared, and soon the castle was left completely empty.

At the end of the 1800s Akershus Castle was "rediscovered" by the Norwegian population. The Parliament appropriated money for structural archaeological surveys of the castle, and a new era in the history of Akershus began.

During the Second World War the German occupation forces took over the castle, and parts of it was used as a prison for resistance fighters sentenced to death. Many Norwegians were executed at Akershus.

Perhaps the most famous image from the liberation from the Germans after the war is from the castle, where the occupying forces surrender it to the resistance.

Today Akershus castle functions as the government’s main reception venue and is used both for receptions, government dinners, state visits and other important events.  The last major historical events that took place at Akershus Castle was the signing of the agreement on the delimitation line in the Barents Sea in 2010.

The Friends of Akershus Castle are the only ones apart from government who can host dinners at the Palace.