Oslo Things to Do Tips by yooperprof Top 5 Page for this destination
Oslo Things to Do: 1,208 reviews and 2,439 photos
courtyard of the museum
Norwegians love irony, so it isn't all that surprising that the Holocaust Center of Oslo is located in Villa Grande, the wartime residence of the notorious Norwegian collaborator Vidkun Quisling, whose surname has become synonomous with craven acceptance of an invader's terms. Quisling was an extremist political leader who served as the figurehead Premier of the country after its invasion and occuption by the Nazis. He established his HQ in this hulking 19th century mansion. The house is in the local style known as "Norwegian Baronial," and even in this serious neighborhood of heavy, portentious piles, it stands out as the largest and more imperial of all. It was from this building that Quisling and his fellow collaborators drew up the plans to first harrass, later to imprison, and finally to export Norway's small but significant Jewish community.
The Holocaust Center has exhibits and photographys telling the story of the small Norwegian Jewish community and its tragic fate during World War II. There was just one transport ship that left Norway carrying Jews, but it was a large transport, and it was carrying over 900 innocent victims to their deaths in Auschwitz or at other concentration camps scattered across Nazi Europe.
In the courtyard stands a large installation by Norwegian artist Arnold Dreyblatt, "Innocent Questions." It is (in effect) a large computer punch card, a reflection of the importance of computer technology in facilitating mass murder: the Jews of Norway were carefully surveyed and monitors before the deportations began.
Address: Huk Aveny 56
Directions: Villa Grande is located on the Bygdøy Peninsula, not too far from the Viking Ship Museum. It's a short bus ride from the city center, and in the summer you can easily reach the peninsula by ferry from the pier in front of the Radhuset.
how did Oslo get to be the way that it is?
Fun Fact to Know and Tell: the Norwegian word "by" means town farmstead or village - and they very kindly introduced the word to the uncivilized peoples of Britain when they brought trade and commerce there in the 9th and 10th centuries C.E. That's why you find English place names (especially up North) with the "by" suffix: Whitby, Granby, Grimsby. etc.
I always enjoy a good city museum. The exhibits at the Oslo City Museum were mostly in Norwegian, but it was no difficulty to figure out what was going on. Losts of interesting artefacts here. I especially enjoyed the maps and the rooms that recreated the feel of Oslo at different times in its past, for people of different social classes. One interesting thing that I learned was that the original location of the town was on the eastern side of the Oslofjord, and it was only moved to its present site - at the "bottom" of the fjord, so to speak - after a devastating fire in the 17th century. This is the main reason why Oslo as it exists today presents no real sense of a medieval past - it doesn't have one!
The Bymuseum is located in an 18th century manor house on the southern end of Frognerparken, the main entrance being a little bit back from Frognerveien.
visualize whirled peas
Housed in a former transportation shed, the Nobel Peace Prize Center is a recent addition to the Oslo harbor. It's in between the R?dhus and Aker Brygge, an easy stroll from Karl Johan Gata and the center of town. There are exhibits honoring all the winners of the Peace Prize, which is awarded every year from here - unlike the other, Swedish, Nobels. You see that many of the great and the good of the last century have been recognized - such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama. Other Nobel Peace Prize winners are more surprising: i.e. Henry Kissinger, Yassir Arafar or Menachem Begin.
My favorite room at the Peace Center was the one filled with photos of each and every prize winner over the last century, lit only by small pin point lights. It was interesting to stop and learn something about the obscure ones from the 1920s and 30s!
(don't) Tear down this wall!
The medieval Akerhus fortress dominates Oslo's central harborfront. This is a section of the impressive wall that lies along Kongens gate. There's lots of interesting stuff inside the castle walls - well worth a morning's meandering.
as it was in the beginning
This stunning medieval church is a little walk out from the city center, but well worth a detour. I attended a wonderful "a capella" Christmas vocal concert here in December 2003. It's the kind of place which exists in a warp zone all its own. Please take a look at my travelogue of the church and its surrounding graveyard, "Midday in the Garden of Good and Lutefisk."
On a clear day you can see forever
Take the S-bann train marked 'Frognerseteren' to the end of the line, and have a meal at the elegant cafe-restaurant just a few hundred feet from the station.
The terrace of the 'Frognerseteren Hovedrestaurant'
has a magnificent view of the Oslofjord. It makes you appreciate the way in which Oslo hugs the shore of the sound, and barely makes a mark upon the expanse of forest which surrounds it.
Excellent museum of contempoary art, with interesting travelling shows and an exceptional permanent collection. Always on display is a major installation by German artist Anselm Kiefer called "Mesopotamia" - it appears to be (among other things) a reflection upon the transience of civilizations. The real "piece de resistance" in the museum is by the famous (notorious?) British artist Damian Hirst: a cow and her calf both dissected, and displayed in blocks of formaldehyde. You have to see it and walk around it yourself - there's no other way to approximate the aesthetic experience.
Address: Grev Wendels plass 9
Directions: down Dronningens gata
the northern arts
This is the _National_ Museum for Contemporary Art: the home of the National Gallery's collection of post World War II painting and sculpture from the Scandinavian lands. On the whole, this museum is a whole lot less edgy, more conservative than the privately owned Astrup Fearnley collection. No mammals preserved in formaldehyde here! Nice landscapes, ordered abstractions, representational sculpture.
Address: Bankplassen 4
Directions: Close to the Akerhus fortress
This is not only Oslo's City Hall, it is also the place where the ceremony for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize is held. Not a beautiful building, it is impressive in its own way. I took an excellent informal tour of the Rådhuset, conducted by a volunteer who was extremely knowledgeable and informative about the history of Oslo, especially about its unfortunate experience under Nazi rule during World War II.
It's an excellent place to go sunning on a warm summer's day!
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