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Munkholmen island

A small islet in the Trondheim fjord. In summertime, many find their way there to relax, visit the café, swim or learn about the exciting history.

During the summer season you can enjoy lazy days at the beach, join a guided tour of the islet or have lunch at Munkholmen's very own café. All of this is just a 10 minutes boat ride away from Ravkloa in the heart of Trondheim.

Intriguing history

With an area of just 13 decares, Munkholmen is a small islet of land just off the Trondheim harbour in the Trondheim fjord. The islet served as the main place for executions during the Viking Age, and the heads of enemies of the State, such as Håkon Jarls and the slave Kark, were placed on stakes next to the islet to warn potential enemies. English sources show that King Cnut the Great established a monastery on Munkholmen in 1028. Norwegian and Icelandic sources, however, tell a different story and point to one of Magnus Berrføtt’s men, Sigurd Ullstrengson, as the founder of Holm (Nidarholm) Monastery in the early 12th century. This monastery was a part of the cluniac order and worshipped Saint Benedict and Saint Lawrence. Magnus the Blind of Norway was captured and placed on Munkholmen as a prisoner between 1135 and 1137. He later joined the monastery as a monk. The monastery was damaged by fires in 1210, 1317 and 1531. In 1969-70, extensive archaeological excavations were performed on the islet to uncover its history. These areas have now once again been covered up and have made room for recreational areas and parks on the islet.

The fortress 

Some of the people of Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson went to Munkholmen in 1537 to escape the prosecutions of the Reformation, but eventually they too had to surrender. After the Reformation, the monastery buildings were put under the care of the king’s estate in Trondheim. Following the Swedish siege of the city in 1658 and the reconquest of the city in 1659 by Danish-Norwegian troops, a fortress was erected on Munkholmen. Many elements of this fortress, which was completed in 1707, are still standing today.

The fortress was however extensively rebuilt in 1825-1850. Munkholmen kept its function as an important fortification of Trondheim until the Second World War when the Nazi troops installed several anti-aircraft guns on the islet.


In the 17th and 18th century, Munkholmen was used as a State prison. It was especially political prisoners who were transported to Munkholmen. Griffenfeld was imprisoned at Munkholmen between 1680 and 1698. In 1797, a light to help sailors navigate was installed on the islet.

Recreational area

Munkholmen is today a popular place for summer outings and has sandy beaches facing the city. There is a daily boat service from Ravnkloa during the summer season. The islet is put under environmental preservation. 

Source: Store norske leksikon

Han d’Islande

Book lovers might also have noticed that the well-known French poet, Victor Hugo, was inspired by Munkholmen in his debut novel.

MY Trondheim

«I love swimming! In the summer, I either go to Theisendammen, Korsvika or Munkholmen. Luckily, we also have Pirbadet Aqua Park for all those days when it is just too cold to swim outside! I love my city, and I think it is wonderful that there are so many different things to do here, from bouldering and swimming to enjoying delicious cupcakes at your local bakery. Welcome to my Trondheim!» Ida Svean Koksvik