The Nidaros Cathedral
In the heart of Trondheim is Nidaros Cathedral – an ornate Gothic masterpiece. Norway’s national shrine and northern Europe’s most important pilgrimage site. The cathedral is built over the tomb of Olav the Holy, the Viking king who christianized Norway and became the entire country’s eternal king. Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace offer many great experiences.
Discover the secrets of the cathedral
A tour of Nidaros Cathedral is filled with history and facts about the cathedral’s 850-year history. Take in the impressive stonework and the stunning glass rose window. In high season (June – August) guided tours are offered in Norwegian, English, German or French. Throughout the rest of the year, tours in Norwegian are offered on weekends. If you wish to take a tour of another language in low season, you can send a request.
For smaller groups it is possible to book themed tours. These provide the unique opportunity to visit the upper and lower floors of the cathedral, which are usually closed to the public. Explore the hidden rooms and secret nooks and crannies of the ancient cathedral. During the summer months, you can climb up to the tower. The 172 steps are dark and narrow, but the climb is well worth the effort when you reach the top and see the breathtaking view of the city.
New lighting in The Nidaros Cathedral
Nidaros Cathedral has been known as the “Dark Cathedral”. The dark soapstone and dark stained glass windows, combined with old-fashioned and inadequate lighting, have made the cathedral appear very dark inside.
Thanks to contributions from various public and private donors, the Cathedrel has now received lighting that highlights the cathedral’s stunning art and architecture.
The beating heart of Trondheim
Nidaros Cathedral is the world’s northernmost Gothic cathedral and Norway’s national shrine. Built from the year 1070 at the tomb of St. Olav – the patron saint of Norway and the Viking king who brought Christianity to Norway. In addition to being one of Europe’s most important historical pilgrimage destinations, coronations and royal blessings take place in the church.
In the Middle Ages, a silver coffin with Olav’s remains was placed on the high altar of the church. During the Reformation, the coffin was sent to Denmark to be melted into silver coins, and Olav’s remains were buried in a secret place in the cathedral. To this day, no one knows exactly where the remains are located.
The restoration of The Nidaros Cathedral
Construction began in 1070, and the cathedral was completed around 1300. After several fires and lack of maintenance in the Middle Ages, the cathedral was in a miserable state. In 1869, extensive restoration work began, and today the cathedral is at its most magnificent.
The Royal entrance
After 12 years of extensive restoration, the Royal Entrance was fully restored in June 2022. It was built in the middle of the 13th century, but Gerhard Schønning was the one who first called the portal Kongeinngangen. This was due to the fact that it was facing the king’s court (the Archbishop’s Palace) and that it was exceedingly stately.
Since 2011, the entire portal has been dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt. Around 30 craftsmen, historians and conservators from “Bygghytta” at Nidaros Cathedral have been involved in the project.
The completion of the Royal Entrance was a major milestone in the restoration work at Nidaros Cathedral.
A mission that never ends
30 craftsmen are still working on various restoration projects in the cathedral. There is a prophecy that says that on the day The Nidaros Cathedral is fully completed, a landslide will hit Trondheim, and Nidaros Cathedral will sink into the fjord. But in reality, the cathedral is unlikely to be completed.
Restoring a cathedral of this size is a perpetual work (but to be on the safe side, sculptor Odd Hilt has created a sculpture of a mason holding a stone in his hand. The sculpture ensures that the cathedral is never fully completed, and thus that the prophecy cannot be fulfilled).
The Archbishop’s Palace
Side by side with Nidaros Cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace. For more than 800 years, the Archbishop’s Palace has been a meeting place for powerful men and an arena for important meetings and grand parties.
Today you will find three museums in The Archbishop’s Palace, and the oldest part is used as a representative room for solemn receptions and dinners.
Several rooms and halls in the Archbishop’s Palace can be rented for special occasions.
The Pilgrim Trails
St. Olavs Paths to Trondheim
Trondheim, or Nidaros as the city was called before, was the most important pilgrimage destination in Northern Europe in the Middle Ages. Pilgrims came from far and wide to visit Olav the Holy’s tomb. Today, the pilgrimage tradition has been brought back to life, and pilgrims return to Nidaros Cathedral.