HISTORY OF THE CITY
Although Trondheim does not have a troubled history like the Irish Derry/Londonderry, it has also changed its name several times.
The Viking King Olav I of Norway founded the city in 997, calling it Kaupangen (“market”).
In his conquest, he beheaded some of his rivals, including Count Håkon with his son Erlend and the servant Kark.
Olav I had their heads impaled at the entrance of the fjord, so that all who entered the city should, in honour of the king, stop to insult and curse his enemies.
The city of Kaupangen then changed its name to Nidaros (“mouth of enemies”).
In 1030 King Olav Haraldsson was martyred and later named Saint.
The town became a place of pilgrimage from all over northern Europe.
At the end of 1800 Norway fell under the rule of Denmark, which called the city Trondhjem.
With independence in 1905, the central government decided to change the name back to Nidaros. And so it happened in January 1930, although the population declared its opposition in a referendum in 1928 (17,163 votes against the name change and 1,508 in favour).
The non-respect of that vote, led to great protests and riots in the streets, so after a few months the Norwegian parliament chose the name Trondheim.
For a short period during the Second World War, the Nazis gave it the “Germanized” name Drontheim.
In reference to the name, sports fans associate Trondheim to the Rosenborg, the most norwegian team titled and with numerous participations to the various European Cups, founded on May 19, 1917 just in the homonymous district of the city.
The blackwhite play their home games at the Lerkendal Stadion.
Its relationship with fire has always been tragic: in 1219 it suffered the first fire and a few years later, in 1295, a large part of the city was reduced to ashes.
At the end of the Middle Ages population growth slowed down and in 1531 there was another phase of decline.
Archbishop Olaf Engelbrektsson tried to stop the Danish influence in Norway and in response Danish troops set fire to the archbishop’s palace, the cathedral and much of the city.
The same happened in 1681, with the so-called Hornemans fire, which once again devastated the city almost completely.
King Christian V entrusted the Luxembourger Johan Caspar de Cicignon the task of rebuilding Trondheim with a new urban plan that would prevent such destruction in the event of future fires.
The city was then designed with large squares, wide and straight streets, but despite this, many serious fires occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Trondheim is still called the city of wooden houses, because of the large number of them.
Today Trondheim is Norway‘s third largest city, with about 205,000 inhabitants and over 30,000 students. Many of them attend the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the largest in the kingdom and which contributes to making the old capital the undisputed technology centre of the country.
WHAT TO SEE
Nidarosdomen – Nidaros Cathedral
The tomb of St. Olav, the Viking king who brought Christianity to Norway, immediately became a pilgrimage destination for Christians from Scandinavia, Great Britain, Russia, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
The work to build the Cathedral above the tomb started in 1070 and was completed around 1300.
Still today the city is reached by thousands of pilgrims, so that Trondheim can be considered the Catholic landmark of northern Europe, as are Rome to the south, Jerusalem to the east and Santiago de Compostela to the west.
After being damaged several times by fire and left without maintenance in the Middle Ages, the cathedral was in poor condition, largely in ruins.
Great restoration work started in 1869 and today the cathedral is practically in its original splendour.
A legend tell that when Nidaros Cathedral is completely finished, a landslide will devastate the city and the cathedral will sink into the fjord.
Restoring a cathedral of this size is a never-ending work, but the cathedral will probably never be completed in such a way as to avert any danger.
Nidarosdomen is a è un richly decorated Gothic masterpiece.
I understand the importance of a guided tour to discover the history of the Cathedral and all its secrets but I refuse to pay to enter a church.
For me it is shameful to demand 80 NOK (about € 10,00) for the entrance, without possible to take photos.
Anyway, I entered two minutes before the beginning of a mass but I’m not allowed to take photos.
The darkness inside kept me from seeing much.
Since 1988 the Science Centre encourages curiosity and creativity with exciting activities, experiments and interactive installations.
The Vitensenteret, open daily, is one of the 10 regional science centres in Norway and is located in the historic centre of Trondheim.
Children will have fun in what looks like games, but also adults could have the same fun, thinking that if this were present in every school, learning would be better and easier.
In fact, there are no results and theoretical explanations of scientific studies here, but you have to personally experiment and play with technology, physics, mechanics, anatomy, electricity, chemistry, geology, mathematics, meterology, informatic and much more.
If a child knows science by playing, it’s easier to continue his/her studies at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
Also beautiful is the 3D planetarium where you see videos about the Northern Lights and an exciting travel through the universe, between galaxies and constellations.
Very interesting are also the videos about the underwater adventures in the coral reef and the stories made by the penguin James from the South Pole and the bear Vladimir from the North Pole.
The fire of 1681 and the subsequent urban reorganization entrusted to Johan Caspar de Cicignon, led to the construction of the Kristiansten Fortress on the hill east of the city.
One of his tasks was also to protect Trondheim from foreign attacks, as happened when the Swedish army besieged the city in 1718.
The Kristiansten Fortress resisted thanks to the Norwegian army and the population, who also came from the surrounding countryside to defend Trondheim.
During the German occupation of Norway in the Second World War, 1,500 German soldiers arrived in the city at dawn on April 9, 1940 and in 4 hours they occupied it without finding resistance.
The Nazis immediately understood the potential of the fortress and settled there, using it as a court and place where about 30 Norwegian patriots and an unknown number of people of other nationalities were executed.
At the end of the war, the fortress was always the official place of execution of traitors and war criminals.
On the occasion of Trondheim’s 100th anniversary in 1997 Kristiansten was extensively renewed.
In 2001 the Norwegian Parliament decided to end its military use and use it for royal and civil purposes.
It’s considered a museum area and a popular destination for hikers and travellers.
It takes about 15 minutes to go up from the Old Town Bridge, but the effort will be rewarded by the beautiful landascape.
It’s also very close to the Singsaker Sommerhotell, where I recommend sleeping if you visit the city in summer.
Of course you could see the city from another angle.
There are several agencies that organize daily boat tours in the fjord with multilingual guides.
For a truly unique tour, you can board a ship almost identical to the Viking drakkars of over 1,000 years ago, built using precisely those techniques, handed down through generations.
Or, if you like it, you could push your kayak along the calm waters of the Nidelva River.
Gråkallbanen is the world’s northernmost tram line, running among the forest from the city centre to the recreation area of Bymarka. The route is scenic and very pleasant.
On special occasions, or often when there are cruise ships, the old historic tram is put into operation.
HOW TO GET
Trondheim Værnes Airport welcomes domestic and international flights.
SAS and Norwegian have direct flights to/from Oslo which take about one hour.
There are two possible connections between the city and the airport:
The Flybussen bus, which stops just outside the arrivals, makes several stops in the city (so ask which one is closest to your hostel/hotel/b&b)..
The train instead connects Trondheim Central Station to the station inside the airport.
Trondheim is obviously one of the ports where the Hurtigruten stop daily, and then continues to south and north.
Traveling by boat is a good choice if you have time, otherwise you could take a flight to Oslo or Bodo.
WHERE TO EAT
Trondheim is a city with great food experiencesin charming cafés, delicious restaurants and micro-breweries.
Small and large game, lamb, shellfish, salmon and other seafood and berries are all specialities of the Trondheim region.
Prices are obviously balanced with the very high standard of living and can be unapproachable for many foreigners.
Arriving here was almost a mirage. In a very expensive Norway, you could eat in peace and quiet by wandering around the various stalls. You find everything: meat, fish, vegetables, desserts, drink. The prices of possible purchases are still very good.
I have only to thank St. Olav because I don’t know how many times I have walked among the stalls eating everything and more.
At the lower end of Munkegata, there is the Fish Market.
Really it’s not a market but a large fish shop. In the various tables outside you could eat various traditional dishes, obviously made with the freshest fish and shellfish from the fjord.
WHERE TO SLEEP
One of the largest inhabited wooden buildings in Scandinavia, during the school season is the city’s university campus but in the summer becomes a hotel, since the 1950s.
The Singsaker Sommerhotell has 103 rooms with 1-4 beds and dorms for 10-12 people (only negative note, the 2 dorms are in the basement and being underground is not very pleasant). The reception is open 24h/24h, breakfast, wifi and parking are included in the price.
Trondheim Værnes Airport
I never give up anything in my travels. But to do everything I want, I have found my compromise by spending as little as possible to sleep.
Besides preferring hostels in shared dormitories instead of hotels (unless absurd offers or special conveniences), I often choose to travel at night to save time and spend the night on the bus (or train, or boat) or to take the last or first flight of the day.
And this is to sleep at the airport. Mine is really a choice: I like sleeping in airport.
I couldn’t believe my eyes at Trondheim Værnes Airport.
Not so much because of the comfortable sofas with electric sockets nearby, not so much because the luggage was delivered in an area open to everyone… but because the shops inside the airport were “open/closed” all night long.
No cameras and no security.
And the thing that amazed me even more is that, at the morning opening, I asked why they left everything so “closed/open” but they didn’t understand what I meant.
“There’s no one there, it means the store is closed. Who comes in if the store’s closed?”
Trondheim was a beautiful discovery, a largely pedestrian city where you can walk quietly through cobbled streets and historic bridges, with many wooden houses and no skyscrapers, a culinary tradition influenced by both the land and the waters of the fjord, a lively and attractive atmosphere thanks to the largest university in Norway.
But of course with prices aligned to Norwegian living standards (and therefore salaries).
Here in fact I had the first hard contact with this reality and the costs can be really prohibitive.
Luckily, St. Olav helped me…