The history of the city dates way back to year 1000AD when the medieval town of Oslo was located below the Ekeberg hills, on the east side of the Bjørvika bay in the area today called Gamlebyen (Old Town).

Oslo, 1300, Carl-Fredrik Keller

Around the year 1300 the town was at its greatest. King Håkon V (1299-1319) was the first king to reside in Oslo and the population of 3000 inhabitants made him the third largest city after Bergen and Trondheim. Some sources say that the town had residents from England, Germany and other nordic countries. Reasons for that was probably because of the cistercian monastery founded by the English monks on the island of Hovedøya in Oslo Fjord. Until 1532 when the monastery was pillaged and burned down the abbey was one of the richest institutions in Norway, holding over 400 properties, including a fishery and timber yards.
After the plague that struck the city in 1349 the population declined and the period was marked by the 300 years long union with Denmark (from 1536).

Since the old city was made entirely out of wood it didn’t take very much for the whole city to burn down. That happened in the summer of 1624 when a dramatic fire that lasted for three days left the citizens without a roof over their heads or jobs. Luckily the King Christian IV was present when the city burned down and he decided not to rebuild the old city but to build new one: in a new spot across the bay, right beside the fortress of Akershus so it can protect it.

Map of Christiania, somewhere around 1648, Isaac van Geelkerck

The king himself supervised the construction naming the new city after himself: Christiania. This part of the city, between the Akershus Fortress and Oslo Cathedral, Øvre Vollgate and Skippergata today is known as Kvadraturen (“the quadrature”) because of the rectangular street pattern of Christians’ renaissance town. Several well-preserved buildings from the 17th century can be seen here, like building that housed Oslo’s first town hall and the city’s oldest restaurant: Café Engebret.

The hand monument in the center depicts the legend that says when the King arrived to the new spot, he took of the glove and pointed to the ground saying:”This will be new city: Christiania

Christiania torv

Btw. from 1877. following the spelling reform, the name of the city was spelled Kristiania, and in 1925 it was changed back to the original name, Oslo, which brings me to the origin of the name…..well, the name certainly derives from Old Norse and was probability originally the name of a large farm at Bjørvika, but the meaning of that name is disputed. During the Middle Ages the name was initially spelt “Ánslo” or “Áslo” and later “Óslo” or “Opslo“. The earlier spelling suggests that the first component ás might refer to the Ekeberg ridge southeast of the medieval town. The word ás (in modern Norwegian ås) which means ‘ridge’ or ‘hill’ is a common component in Norwegian toponiyms (as in Ås and Åsnes). In that case, it would read “the meadow beneath the ridge“.

Another interpretation could be “the meadow of the gods” (the word áss or ansu in Old Norse refers to the Æsir). The word ás with the meaning “god” is rare in place names, so that means that the name most likely has a topographical origin. Thanks wikipedia.


1624 – 1814                                                                                                                                                                                            Somewhere in the 16th century sawmills came to Norway and thanks to widespread forests, hydropower of the cities two rivers Akerselva and Alnaelva, a good position in the fjord and the Kings’ support timber trade became the city’s main industry. The boats carrying wood all over Europe, Asia and Africa returned with groceries, textiles, furniture, tobacco, spices and luxury goods. The new and costly products like coffee, tea and chocolate were highly appreciated but only among the upper classes who had money for such a luxury.

At that time around 3000 people lived in the city and although Christiania became the administrative center it was still just a provincial town in the Danish-Norwegian kingdom (Copenhagen was the capital) and the population didn’t increase to more than 9000 by the beginning of the 19th century. While some made their living from trade and crafts, other were employed in the kings administration. Important part of the urban society were soldiers and church men, of course. Since the timber trade was the city’s main industry this drew new residents from rural communities all over the country to the city, as well as immigrants from countries like Germany, England and Holland.


MODERN CAPITAL                                                                                                                                                                             After the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark had to cede the territory of Norway to the Swedish king, Karl Johan 1814. (for those more interested in the subject):

Norway didn’t like that so they wrote and read their own constitution to the illiterate people of the kingdom on the 17th of may in 1814.

A view from Ekeberg hill, 19. juli 1814, Magrethe Kristine Tholstrup

After two-weeks-war between Norway and Sweden, because Sweden didn’t like to have independent Norway, it all went well and the two countries were big friends until 1905. During this time, Christiania got its official status as the capital of Norway and Oslo became modern metropolis with great human diversity, rich artistic and cultural life, numerous cafes and all kinds of entertainment, but also large class differences.

Market on the Stortorvet, L.W.Th.Bratz, 1843

The new capital attracted people from everywhere. By the end of the century more than half of the population was born outside of the city and two thirds came from the countryside. Like today, people were looking for work and a better life in the big city. Although the largest number of immigrants came from Sweden, there were a lot of Germans and Brits.

A view from Ekeberg hill, Peder Balke, 1829

The Jewish immigration increased significantly around 1880 in Norway because of the discrimination in Eastern Europe. The Constitution of 1814 prevented Jews from entering but, after years of struggle, they finally gained legal access to Norway in 1851.

After Christiania was promoted to a capital city in 1814, King Karl Johan initiated ambitious building program since there were no buildings suitable for the new government institutions. First was the Royal Palace, designed by Hans Linstow and built between 1824 and 1848. Linstow also planned Karl Johans gate, the avenue connecting the Palace and the city, with a monumental square halfway to be surrounded by buildings for the University, the Parliament (Storting) and other institutions. Christian Heinrich Grosch, one of the first fully educated architects in Norway, designed the original building for the Oslo Stock Exchange (1826–1828), the local branch of the Bank of Norway (1828), Christiania Theatre (1836–1837), and the first campus for the University of Oslo (1841–1856).

From the middle of the century Christiania developed into a divided city. The border was (and in some means is still today) the river Akerselva. The east side of the river was mainly a working class part of the city (now hipster slash imigrant part) and the area behind the palace belonged to the wealthy bourgeoisie citizens (today the west is more or less residential area for families).

A view on the Karl Johans gate from Ekertorget, 1910


CONTEMPORARY METROPOLIS                                                                                                                                                 The beginning of a new century brought some changes. First in 1925 the city changed its name to Oslo and everyone demanded a new and healthy city since the image of the city, in generally, wasn’t the greatest (a lot of houses were overcrowded with very poor hygiene standards). Unfortunately the German occupation in 1940 stopped the cities renovation and although the city itself wasn’t destroyed much a lot of people suffered. After the independence in 1945 people moved to the city from all parts of the country, which resulted in housing shortage. Widening the borders of the city to a neighbouring communities helped with this problem. During the 50ies and the 60ies a great number of foreign immigrants came to the city. They overtook the old and abandoned stores making Oslo multicultural city. Today one third of the population are immigrants and the numbers are rising. It is estimated that in the next 20 years Oslos population will increase by mire than 200 000 inhabitants. Where are those people going to live? In the new, expensive buildings of Bar Code project? Or somewhere in the forest? Lets wait and see 🙂

Oslo City Museum

If you ever visit Oslo be sure to visit Oslo Museum (Bymuseet). The permanent exhibition leads you from the beginning of settlement of the city till modern days. The entrance is free on Saturdays (other days 90nok, free with Oslo pass) and photographing is allowed.


POVIJEST GRADA                                                                                                                                                                    Povijest grada Osla datira u 1000. godinu kad je srednjovjekovni grad bio smješten ispod Ekeberg brda na istočnoj strani Bjørvika zaljeva u dijelu koji se danas naziva Gamlebyen (Stari grad).

 Oko 1300. grad je bio na svom vrhuncu. Kralj Håkon V (1299-1319) bio je prvi koji je živio u Oslu, a po broju stanovnika (oko 3000) Oslo je bio na drugom mjestu odmah iza Bergena i Trondheima. Neki izvori navode da je u gradu živio stanovit broj ljudi iz Engleske, Njemačke i drugih nordijskih zemalja. Razlog tomu vjerojatno je ležao u činjenici da su cistercitski samostan na otoku Hovedøya u Oslo fjordu osnovali engleski redovnici. Do 1532., kad je samostan pokraden i spaljen, sa svojih 400 posjeda, ribnjakom i stovarištem drveta opatija je bila jedna od najbogatijih institucija u Norveškoj.

Nakon što je epidemija kuge pogodila grad 1349. broj stanovništva je drastično opao, a period je obilježio četiristo godina duga unija s Danskom (od 1536.)

CHRISTIANIA                                                                                                                                                                              Obzirom da je stari grad cijeli bio napravljen od drveta nije trebalo dugo da – izgori. Jedan od dramatičnijih i bitnijih požara desio se 1624. kad su, nakon trodnevne buktinje, brojni stanovnici ostali bez krovova nad glavama ili poslova. Sreća u nesreći bila je da se kralj Christian IV našao u neposrednoj blizini grada i poglavar je odlučio nanovo sagraditi cijeli grad i onda kao nagradu samom sebi (i podanicima, naravno) nazvati ga – ni više ni manje nego – po njemu samom. Novi grad, po kraljevoj ideji, sagrađen je nasuprot zaljeva tik uz Akershus tvrđavu koja ga je štitila.

Dio grada, sada nazvan Christianija, između Akershus tvrđave i katedrale te ulica Øvre Vollgate i Skippergata zbog svog pravokutnog izgleda danas se naziva Kvadraturen. U ovom dijelu grada još uvijek stoje neke od 17. stoljetnih građevina poput prve gradske vijećnice ili najstarijeg gradskog restorana: Café Engebret.

Ogromna ruka – spomenik opisuje legendu koja kaže da je kralj, kad je stigao na novo mjesto, skinuo rukavicu i prstom pokazavši na zemlju rekao: ”Ovo će biti novi grad: Christiania”. Skromno, ne? 

Ne škodi znati da se, zahvaljujući reformi iz 1877., grad zvao Kristianija sve dok se 1925. ime nije vratilo na staro – Oslo. A kad smo već kod toga, ime Oslo potječe iz staronorveškog i vjerojatno je označavalo veliku farmu u Bjørvika zaljevu, no oko značenja imena lome se koplja. Naime, u srednjem vijeku ime se pisalo Ánslo ili Áslo, nakon toga Óslo ili Opslo. Raniji zapisi predlažu da se prvi dio ás (danas ås) odnosio na obronke Ekeberg brda jer  je riječ ás sa značenjem ”obronak, brdo” vrlo čest dio u norveškim toponimima (npr. općine Åsnes ili Ås). U slučaju da je sve ovo istina, naziv Oslo značio bi: livada ispod obronka.

Druga teorija veli da naziv, u biti, znači: livada bogova (jer se riječ áss ili ansu u staronorveškom odnosi na Æsir). Riječ ás sa značenjem ”bog” je dosta rijetko, tako da je vjerojatnija ova ideja o topografskom porijeklu. Hvala wikipedija 🙂

1624 – 1814                                                                                                                                                      Kad su negdje u 16. stoljeću pilane došle u Norvešku, zahvaljujući brojnim šumama, rijekama Akerselvi i Alnaelvi, dobroj poziciji u fjordu te kraljevoj potpori drvna industrija (razmjena) postala je glavna industrija grada Osla. Brodovi natovareni trupcima napuštali su grad i vraćali se iz svih dijelova Europe, Azije i Afrike noseći namirnice, tekstil, namještaj, duhan, začine i luksuznu robu. U biti, sve ono što ova zemlja nije posjedovala. Novi i skupi proizvodi poput kave, čaja i čokolade bili su vrlo cijenjeni, ali samo među visokom građanskom klasom koja je imala novac za to. Naravno.

U to vrijeme u gradu je živjelo oko 3000 ljudi, no iako je Christianija postala administrativno središte, grad je i dalje ostao najobičnija provincija tadašnjeg Dansko- Norveškog kraljevstva čiji je glavni grad bio Copenhagen. Stanovništvo je uglavnom privređivalo baveći se raznim obrtima i trgovinom dok je drugi dio obnašao poslove u kraljevoj administraciji. Uvijek netko izvuče bolji kraj.

Važan dio urbanog društva činili su vojnici i crkvenjaci, yes. Obzirom da je drvna razmjena bila glavna industrija, nije ni čudo što su u grad svako malo dolazili ljudi iz svih dijelova Norveške, ali i Njemačke, Engleske, Nizozemske. Ekonomski imigranti. Opet.

MODERNI GLAVNI GRAD                                                                                                                                                                        Nakon Napoleonskih ratova, Danska je morala prepustiti norveški teritorij švedskom kralju Karlu Johanu 1814. One koje više zanima ova tema, klik na

Norveškoj se to nije svidjelo, mislim kome bi, tako da su napisali i neukom narodu pročitali svoj Ustav. Bijaše to 17. svibnja 1814. godine. Nakon dvotjednog rata susjedi su zaključili da se tuku bez veze kad mogu živjeti skupa; u uniji. I živjeli su tako sretno i zadovoljno do kraja 1905. Za vrijeme postojanja unije Christianija je dobila službeni status glavnog grada Norveške i grad je postao moderni metropolis velike društvene raznolikosti, bogatog umjetničkog i kulturnog života, brojnih kavana i svakakvih vrsta zabave. No, u isto vrijeme, grad je bio svjedokom velikih klasnih razlika.

Novi glavni grad privukao je ljude od svakud tako da je do kraja stoljeća više od polovice stanovništva bilo rođeno negdje drugdje, a dvije trećine su se dotaljigale sa sela. Baš kao i danas ljudi su dolazili u potrazi za novim poslom i nadi u bolji život u velikom gradu. Iako je najveći broj imigranata došao iz Švedske, bilo je dosta Britanaca i Nijemaca.

Židovska zajednica u Norveškoj postala je brojnija negdje oko 1880. nakon diskriminacije Židova u istočnoj Europi te nakon konačnog ukidanja zabrane o slobodnom dolasku Židova koje je bilo utemeljeno Ustavom iz 1814. 

Nakon što je Christianija 1814. dobila status glavnog grada, kralj Karl Johan započeo je vrlo ambiciozan program gradnje obzirom da tadašnje zgrade nisu bile pogodne za nove državne institucije. Prva na redu je bila kraljevska palača koju je projektirao Hans Linstow između 1824 and 1848. Linstow je također projektirao Karl Johans gate koja povezuje kraljevsku palaču s gradom skupa s monumentalnim trgom na pola puta, a koji okružuju zgrada sveučilišta, Parlament i druge institucije.

Christian Heinrich Grosch, jedan od prvih educiranih arhitekata u Norveškoj, projektirao je zgradu burze Oslo (1826–1828), lokalnu poslovnicu Banke Norveške (1828), Christiania Kazališta (1836–1837) i prvi kompleks sveučilišta grada Osla (1841–1856).

Od sredine stoljeća Christianija se razvila u podijeljeni grad, a granica je bila (i u nekom smislu još uvijek jest) rijeka Akerselva. Istočna strana bila je rezervirama za radničku klasu (danas imigrantsko sleš hipsterski dio grada) dok su u dijelu grada iza kraljevske palače živjeli bogata buržuji (danas je zapad grada rezidencijalni dio za obitelji).

SUVREMENI METROPOLIS                                                                                                                                                                Početak stoljeća donio je neke promjene. Prvo je 1925. grad promijenio ime u Oslo i svi su zahtijevali novi i zdravi grad obzirom da slika grada nije baš bila blistava (brojne kuće bile su prenastanjene s vrlo lošim higijenskim uvjetima).

Nažalost njemačka okupacija 1940. zaustavila je renovaciju grada, pa iako grad nije bio previše uništen stradalo je puno ljudi. Nakon oslobođenja 1945. ljudi su se doselili iz svih dijelova zemlje što je rezultiralo nestašicom stambenih objekata.

Problem je riješen tako što su se granice grada proširile na obližnje susjedne okruge. Za vrijeme 50ih i 60ih velik broj stranih imigranata došao je u grad. Preuzeli su stare i napuštene trgovine istovremeno stvarajući multikulturalni grad. Danas čak jedna trećina stanovništa čine imigranti, a brojka raste i raste. Pretpostavlja se da će u sljedećih 20 godina stanovništvo Osla narasti za brojku od 200 000 ljudi. Postavlja se pitanje gdje će ti ljudi živjeti? U novom, skupom rezidencijalnom kvartu nazvanom Bar project? Ili negdje u šumi? Ostaje nam čekati i vidjeti 🙂

Btw. ako se ikada nađete u posjeti Oslu, javite se meni, bum vas provela kroz grad 🙂 No, obavezno posjetite gradski muzej Oslo gdje vas stalni postav vodi od postanka grada do danas. Subotom je ulaz besplatan (inače je 90nok), a fotkanje je dopušteno.

Vidimo se!

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