Founded by a Viking king. Fought over in our most famous battle. Accepted as the seat of religion. In Trøndelag, there is history in every inch of the soil.
Text: Morten Andre Samdal
In the year 997, King Olaf Tryggvason and his army entered what today is the city of Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city and the undisputed capital of the Trøndelag region. The former Viking king chose to build his castle and port here, and he gave away nearby land for people to settle down.
“Did you bring the bread?” shouts one little girl to another other. We can only see their long, fluttering blond hair as they disappear into a narrow little alley between the old wooden houses in the historic Bakklandet in Trondheim. The same area that Tryggvason settled some 1,000 years before. The small cobbled road is now a portal into one of the most picturesque places along Nidelven, the river that runs through the city. Local youth are trying their luck as anglers where the fresh water from the river meets the salty streams from the fjord.
Nidarosdomen, the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral, is the city’s most famous landmark and serves as Norway’s coronation church. You find influences in Trøndelag both from the coastal culture in the north, the farming and food traditions from the islands, and the more urban tendencies from the south. “The most important cultural heritage in this country is found here. Like Nidarosdomen and Erkebispegården. Even if the locals of Trøndelag were really hard to Christianise, they built some of the most beautiful churches”, Bratberg says.
One of those other places that hold a lot of history is most definitely Stiklestad. Only a two-hour drive north from Trondheim, you’ll find the site of the most famous battle in Norwegian history.
“The Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 is where the Christian Viking king Olaf Haraldsson died in the fight against local chieftains. He was later buried in Trondheim and declared a saint. His remains are now somewhere beneath the floors of Nidarosdomen”, Bratberg says. “The legend tells of a man whose nails and hair grew longer after his death.”
At Stiklestad, the country’s most defining historic event is conveyed and experienced every day, most famously by the large outdoor play “The Saint Olav drama”. The play is linked to events surrounding the battle.
The city of Trondheim, the culture of the Trøndelag, Stiklestad, and Nidarosdomen are but a few examples of the legacies of these Viking kings. If a Norwegian history book without them wouldn’t exactly be “empty covers” as Bratberg claims, it would certainly be a lot poorer.
The major city of Trondheim sports many great attractions, amongst them the Nidarosdomen Cathedral. But Trøndelag in the middle of Norway also has seven national parks, one of the country’s largest mountain ranges Dovrefjell, and a whole area dedicated to local food.