Vigeland Park is the world's largest sculpture park dedicated to the work of a single artist, and an ode to one man's obsession with the human form. The park displays over 200 sculptures fashioned from granite, bronze and wrought iron by the Norwegian artist, Gustav Vigeland, created over a period of 20 years from 1924 to 1943. In fact, the park itself was designed by the famed sculptor and is actually a mammoth installation in Frogner Park. Vigeland's work varies from depictions of humans engaged in everyday tasks, to more symbolic and abstract works like The Monolith, a 14.12-meter (46.33-foot) high sculpture composed of 121 human figures intended to represent the human desire to reach out to the divine. Other notable sculptures include The Wheel of Life and The Fountain. Although each is a masterpiece in its own right, the interplay with the layout and architecture of the park creates a whole that is more amazing than the sum of its parts. Today, Vigeland Park is one of Oslo's most popular attractions, visited by over one million tourists each year.
Fritjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen and Otto Sverdrup all sailed this 100-year-old ship (called the Fram) on their daring Arctic expeditions. Covered by a uniquely-shaped building on the Bygdy peninsula, the ship lends weight to the museum's focus on Norway's crucial role in the history of Arctic exploration. Visitors can now visit the ship's interior and see all its original contents and, best of all, can be sure to leave the ship with great knowledge about marine exploration.
Sognsvann Lake, and its surrounding countryside, is one of the most popular choices for a city-dweller's day out, both in summer and winter. During the hottest months, the lake is excellent for swimming and sun-bathing, and when the lake freezes over later in the year, it becomes a huge, natural ice rink, popular with skaters of all ages. Sognsvann is the terminus for the Sognsvann branch of the underground, so it is very easy to get to, whether you come from the city center or from Majorstuen. Marked trails take you straight into the woods, with a variety of alternatives for short and long walks. In the winter, the same paths, now snow-covered, are used for cross-country skiing.
The brainchild of Professor Gustafson, the Viking Ship Museum or as the locals call it Vikingskipshuset, was established after a considerable number of ancient ship wrecks and archaeological findings were discovered at the legendary Nordic burial sites of Tune, Gokstad, Oseberg, and Borre during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. The museum's talking point is definitively the magnificent Oseberg Ship, which was excavated in its entirety, making it extremely rare. Two more Viking ship remains apart from Oseberg form the focal point of the museum. Other things to look out for include art and artifacts from the Viking age, most of which were found as part of the wreckage. An on-site shop offers attractive souvenirs and books.
A symbol of Norwegian opulence, the Slottet og Slottsparken or the Royal Palace and its imperial gardens have been the centerpiece of Oslo's sweeping cityscape since 1849. Constructed in the Neoclassical style, the lavishly-decorated palace has been the primary residence of Norwegian monarchs. Designed by celebrated Norwegian architect Hans Linstow, the palace features a grandiose facade with Corinthian columns. A magnificent statue of a horse-mounted King Charles III stands high on a pedestal on the square in front of the palace, completing the regal setting. The annual National Day parade in Oslo, that passes the Royal Palace on its way is one of the few times when the royal family makes a public appearance to greet the proud Norwegians on the happy occasion.
Originally founded in 1993 at Dronningens Gate, this modern museum features a series of temporary and permanent exhibitions by Norwegian and international artists from the post-war era. The permanent collection includes Anselm Kieferen's sculpture, The High Priestess/Zweistromland, a monumental bookshelf with a good collection of books made of lead, and one of Damien Hirst's best-known pieces, Mother and Child Divided. Towards the end of 2012, Astrup Fearnley Museum shifted its location to Oslo's Tjuvholmen neighborhood. Call ahead for more information.
This is Oslo's main street, a pedestrian area leading from the central station to the palace. Visitors can watch the world go by at one of the street's numerous watering holes or simply follow the crowds down the road, past street vendors and entertainers, past the parliament, national theatre, Grand Hotel and the university. With hundreds of different shops, the street is also a Mecca for shopaholics. The park between the parliament and national theater is turned into an ice-rink in the winter.
The Museum of Cultural History focuses on the period from the last Ice Age (10,000 years ago) until the end of the Middle Ages. The earliest period is covered by archaeological findings. Lots of objects from the Viking age are also exhibited; the weapons, ornaments and different tools give an impression of the Vikings' days of prosperity. This museum is home to the Historical Museum, and it also manages the Vikings Ship Museum, both reflect Norway's glorious past. During the year there are also two or three temporary exhibitions.
The building, housing a humongous collection of artifacts reflecting Norway's history during the medieval and pre-historic ages, is internationally known as one of Norway's best examples of Jugend or Art Nouveau architecture. The museum houses galleries on ethnographic findings, antiques, mummies and coins. Each section will give you a new perspective on a different aspect of Norwegian culture. If you have an Oslo pass then admission is free.
Kvadraturen is the heart of Christian IV's town Christiania, built after the town of Oslo was burnt down in 1624. The city was not renamed Oslo until 300 years later. The sculpture on Christiania Torv square symbolizes the King's words, when he decided 'The new town will lie here'. A statue of the King himself can be found on Stortorvet. Kvadraturen offers fine dining at Statholdergaarden, Mediterranean dishes at Celsius or dine in modern elegance at Brasserie Hansken.
This area contains charming, narrow passages with small, wooden houses from the nineteenth century. Start at Fredensborgveien, at about a 15-minute walk from the city centre; you can also get buses 24 or 70 northbound; your stop is Mlleveien. You can continue your walk up Akersbakken to the Gamle Aker medieval church, and from there to the Vår Frelsers Gravlund cemetery, where many famous Norwegians are buried.