On our final day in Trondheim, we spent most of our afternoon at the remarkable Medieval Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace Museum next door. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography inside the buildings, so all of our photos are from the exterior. For images from the interior, visit the cathedral’s excellent website.
This is the northernmost of Europe’s gothic cathedrals. The oldest sections of the current building date to the mid 12th century, although construction for the cathedral on this site was actually begun in 1070. (A church has stood on this site since 1035, when a wooden church was built there in honor of St. Olav.) The transept is still firmly Romanesque in style, while the rest of the church is as gothic as they come. It makes for a fascinating wander through. Nowhere can I remember seeing such clear and abrupt changes between the two styles.
There are two magnificent organs inside. One is a 1930 Steinmeyer, but the really interesting one is a mid-18th century Baroque organ built by J.J. Wagner that had actually been removed and stored (poorly) in the basement after the new organ was installed. It was brought back into the North transept during the 90s and restored. It is now used a great deal, and boy, do I wish I could have heard it in action!
This is one of the most ornately carved and decorated of all the cathedrals we’ve seen so far. Interestingly, nearly all the stone masons were English, so the features in this cathedral are also found in many of the cathedrals in England.
Also worthy of note is the fact that this building began as the cathedral for a Roman Catholic Archdiocese, but after 1537 (you know, because of that little thing called the Reformation) it has been the cathedral of the Lutheran bishops in Trondheim in the Diocese of Nidaros. It is built over the supposed site of St. Olav’s grave, the patron saint of Norway. At the main altar, there is a shrine to St. Olav.
Like Canterbury Cathedral, this place was a huge center of pilgrimage (the largest in Northern Europe) during the Middle Ages, and is still today.
It is remarkable.
The North transept
The buttresses (structurally undersized?)
The Magnificent West Facade
This is perhaps the most famous part of the cathedral, with 59 statue-filled niches and the rose window. This West facade and the very clear combination of Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles made me think of the cathedral in Exeter.
The statues have been replaced with modern replicas during restoration that begain in 1869. Some of the original statues (what’s left of them) are on display in the Archbishop’s Palace Museum. Unfortunately, in addition to the forces of rain, snow, ice, and wind, freezing temperatures, and modern-day pollution, the cathedral suffered from multiple fires over the centuries. Much restoration has been done over the years.
King Olav and Bishop Sigurd, with the heads of his murdered helpers.
Doors, faces, gargoyles
The Archbishop’s Palace & Museum
The churchyard (I loved the font on this tombstone – very Tim Burton!)
It was a challenge to get our super stroller through the deep snow and slush in the cathedral grounds, but we did it!