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Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway - Photo: Nasjonale Festningsverk
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Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway Photo: Nasjonale Festningsverk

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress in Oslo is one of the oldest and finest cultural heritage sites in Norway.

The fortress' rich variety of prominent buildings and installations were erected over a period of almost 700 years.  

Akershus Fortress is also ranked as a national symbol because of its age-old role as a seat for kings and centre of government, and not least the many important and dramatic events that have taken place here throughout history. Its national importance is underlined by the fact that even today it is the Norwegian Government's principal location for official functions and state occasions. It also houses the Royal Mausoleum.

Important landmark

For the City of Oslo, Akershus is an integral part of its identity. The present city centre was established beneath Akershus' fortifications in 1624. The fortress has always constituted an important landmark, towering as it did over the more modest dwellings of old Christiania.

Akershus remains an important landmark in Oslo, forming its most distinctive silhouette against the Oslofjord together with the City Hall below. 

The central location makes the fortress grounds a popular recreational area for tourists and locals alike.

Renovation and restoration

Growing public awareness towards the end of the 1800s of the cultural values represented by Akerhus Fortress, led to extensive renovation and restoration projects in order to highlight and refine Akershus' standing as a national monument.   

Typical for the sentiments of the time, the initial work concentrated on the Middle Ages; it was important to bring to light the tangible reminders of the fact that Norway was once a great nation. 

Gradually the awareness grew of the importance of the fortifications and buildings dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also. Before the protectionist lobby had gathered enough momentum, however, nearly all the ramparts of Nedrevoll had been demolished, with the exception of Hornverket on the Kontraskjæret Rock.

Despite these reductions, however, both the central areas and the outer perimeters of the fortress have preserved their original identity to a large extent vis-à-vis the buildings in the grid-built streets below. The main reason for that is that the fortress area continued to be used for military purposes even after the demolition of the fortifications.

In the nineteenth century new military buildings were constructed for other purposes (such as depots), and are therefore different from the original structures. These newer buildings were also given a military character in the form of a romantic "castle architecture" in brick and half-timbered houses.

Important military stronghold

The newly built headquarters for the Ministry of Defence and the evident and continued presence by the Defence at Akershus, means that it will remain a strategically important military stronghold also in the future. The presence of the Defence at the fortresses of Akershus and Bergenhus means that these two fortresses, together with the other forts across the country, may look forward to becoming valuable and lively arenas for cultural, military and civilian activities, as well as providing memorable experiences for the general public. In this way, the Defence ensures new life on historical sites. 

Food and drink

There are two establishments serving refreshments at Akershus, the Karpedammen Café and Café Festningen.

Karpedammen Café
Here you can enjoy al-fresco refreshments during the summer. The café is situated by the carp pond in the central fortress area. Stop for a cup of coffee or enjoy a good meal. The café is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

Outdoor service only – closed in inclement weather.

The carp pond itself was recreated in the 1960s having been refilled for about 100 years.  It is one of several ponds that existing in earlier times, as can be seen from maps dating back to the end of the seventeenth century and later.   
The kitchen is located in the "large provisions house", which was built in 1690 and extended later on in the 1700s to its present-day size. The building was used to store grain and other food.

In the early nineteenth century the building became part of Akershus country prison, and fitted out with prison cells and workhouses. In 1999, the building was converted into a café and canteen for the Defence Forces' Education Centre.

Karpedammen is open daily 11 am - 6 pm

Phone: +47 23 09 37 05

Café Festningen
The café is located on the lower part of the fortress, inside the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum. Serves hot and cold dishes.

Open all year.
Monday – Friday: 10 am - 2:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11 am - 3:30 pm

Phone: +47 23 09 35 79

Akershus Castle

Akershus Castle is the Government's principle venue for state receptions, and a sightseeing attraction for tourists. A visit to Akershus Castle is like taking a walk through history from the fourteenth century until the present time.

The castle is open to the public during the summer season. 

In the winter season the castle is open every Thursday for guided tours. There are also guided tours on appointment for schools, groups and companies throughout the year. 

Akershus Castle Church is part of Akershus Castle.  

Opening times:
2 May – 31 August:
Monday – Saturday 10 am - 4 pm, Sundays 12:30 pm – 4 pm

1 September – 30 April:
Open Thursdays for guided tours at 12 noon, 1 pm and 2 pm. The tours take about 50 minutes, and take in the whole castle. The guided tour at 1 pm is in English. 

Please note that Akershus Castle may be closed wholly or partly on certain days due to state occasions. 

Phone: +47 23 09 35 53

Akershus Castle Church

Akershus Castle Church is the Norwegian Military's principal church. The Garrison chaplain is in charge of planning and coordinating services and church events.

Services
Spring services commence on Annunciation Day (mid-March) and finish at the end of June. 
In the autumn there are services from the beginning of August until the first Sunday in Advent Sunday.  

During these periods there are morning services each Sunday at 11 am, and on other Church Feasts. 

The services are announced in the newspapers and are open to all. On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and the Norwegian National Day 17 May, there will be services in the Castle Church. Open to all. 

Weddings
Persons connected to the Norwegian Armed Forces are permitted to use the Castle Church for weddings.
To be eligible for a wedding in Akershus Castle Church the following criteria apply:

  • The bride or groom must be an employee of the Armed Forces, military or civilian 
  • The bride or groom must be a reserve officer
  • The bride or groom must be an officer in the Home Guard
  • Sons and daughters of present employees of the Armed Forces 
  • Servicemen during their one-year term of service 
  • The bride or groom must be employees of the Ministry of Defence 

The wedding seasons lasts from the beginning of April until the end of June, and from the beginning of August until the end of November. 

In April, September, October  and November wedding ceremonies can be held on Fridays at 1 pm and 2 pm.

In May, June and August weddings can be held Fridays and Saturdays, at 4:15 pm and 5:15 pm. 

Christenings
Persons connected to the Armed Forces are able to use the Castle Church for christenings. Christenings are conducted during Morning Service on Sundays. 

To qualify for using the Castle Church for christenings, one of the parents of the child to be christened must be either:

  • An employee of the Armed Forces, civilian or military 
  • An officer of the Home Guard 
  • An employee in the Ministry of Defence

Church parades
In December there are church parades and pre-Christmas services for units in the Oslo area. 

Visiting naval fleets and international units
Church parades, services and devotions may be held during visits from foreign navies or international units.

For questions concerning services, christenings, weddings or other matters, please call +47 23 09 88 17.

Norway's Resistance Museum

The Norwegian Resistance Museum offers exhibitions and a library/archives, and is Norway’s leading institution on the history of the Nazi occupation. Open all year.  

Guided tours available on appointment for schools, groups and companies. 

The department of archives and documentation have specialist literature, other printed matter, a collection of manuscripts and archive materials that are available to the public.

Opening times:
1 September - 31 May:
Monday - Friday 10 am - 4 pm. Saturday - Sunday 11 am - 4 pm.

1 June - 31 August:
Monday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm. Sundays 11 am - 5 pm.

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum at Akershus Fortress displays Norwegian defence history from the Middle Ages to the years following World War II. The exhibition shows how the Defence, military thinking and the reality of war have been connected to technological, financial and political developments. 

The Armed Forces have extensive museum activities on a national level, with the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum as their main museum.  They are also in charge of the Norwegian Resistance Museum, the Naval Museum in Horten, the Armoury in Trondheim, Oscarsborg Fortress Museum and the Air Defence Museum in Bodø.   

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum in Akershus Fortress is open year-round, and is situated on the lower grounds of the fortress.   

The museum has its own shop and café.

Guided tours are available for classes in the elementary and secondary schools and for groups and companies. 

Admission is free.

Opening times:
1 September - 30 April:
Tuesday - Friday: 11 am - 4 pm. Saturday - Sunday 11 am - 5 pm.

1 May - 31 August:
Tuesday – Friday 10 am - 5 pm. Saturday - Sunday 11 am - 5 pm.

Closed for Easter, Whit Saturday and Whit Sunday. 

Getting to Akershus Fortress

The fortress is located in the centre of Oslo by the harbour. Follow the signs.  

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Last updated:  2013-08-20

Interest:  Buildings & Monuments

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Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway - Photo: Nasjonale festningsverk

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress in Oslo is one of the oldest and finest cultural heritage sites in Norway.

Akershus Fortress

Source: Visitnorway

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