The rock outcroppings that one can see around Oslo and along Oslo fjord are some of the oldest on earth, dating back hundreds of millions of years.
A place of human habitation since Viking times, a settlement was built at the head of Oslo fjord in the 8th Century.
Oslo itself was founded in 1050 by King Harald Hardrade (Hard Ruler) who established a commercial settlement on the banks of the Aker River.
The 12th Century saw various struggles between rival factions vying for the Norwegian throne. However, during the reign of King Harkon V, peace returned to Norway. The King selected Oslo as his residence and decreed it the capital of Norway. To defend it, he built Akershus Castle.
In 1397, however, Norway, Sweden and Denmark united in the Union of Kalmar. Its purpose was to counteract the German Hanseatic League, which was dominating Scandinavian commerce. The idea underlying the union was that the three countries would retain their sovereignty but be united under a common king. In practice, Denmark dominated the union.
The Kalmar Union was to last for more than a century until Sweden decided to break away. Taking advantage of Norway's weakness, Denmark then unilaterally declared Norway to be a province of Denmark. Not surprisingly, Oslo's role as a capital was diminished during this period.
In 1624, Oslo was devastated by fire. The Danish King Christian IV rebuilt the city including modernizing Akershus Castle. He also renamed the city "Christiania" -- after himself. The city nonetheless prospered and became Norway's largest city.
Denmark sided with France in the Napoleonic Wars and following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, it was required to cede Norway to Sweden, which had been on the winning side.
In 1905, the Norwegian parliament declared Norway's
independence. A Danish prince was chosen as king and
Christiania as the capital. The city reverted back to its original name in 1925.
Nazi forces invaded Norway in 1940. Despite a desperate defense by the Norwegians and their British allies, the Germans occupied the country. One Norwegian victory, however, took place in Oslo Fjord, with the sinking of the German heavy cruiser Blucher. The Nazi occupation lasted until May 1945.
The post-war period in Norway was marked by industrial
development and prosperity largely due to the discovery of oil in the North Sea adjacent to Norway.
Above: The tall ship Christian Radich berths in Oslo harbor not far from the cruise ship terminal. Built as a training ship, this vessel has won a number of tall ship races and still does cruises in which members of the public can sign on (for a fee) as trainees. She appeared in the movie "Windjammer" and the television series "The Onedian Line".
The approach to Oslo along Oslo Fjord is guarded by a
small fortress. During the invasion of Norway in 1940, the
Germans regarded this defense as antiquated and sent the
modern heavy cruiser Blucher down the fjord to cover the
attack on Oslo with its big guns and to land troops.
Unknown to the Germans, the Norwegians had equipped
the fortress with torpedoes and sank the Blucher. The
sinking delayed the attack on Oslo long enough for
Norway's Royal Family, parliament and cabinet to escape
and for Norway's gold reserves to be moved out of reach of
Cruise destination travel guide - - Norway - - Oslo - - History