Oslo, Aker Brygge

First impression of Oslo is that there is a lot of gothic about it. There’s a deep and mystic veil surrounding this city, making it divine and frightening at the same time. The architecture and art will leave you breathless and amazed. While you wander the streets aimlessly, you’ll think about everything. This city will make you wonder what is the meaning of life. It will throw you in the deep thinking and make you feel so happy about that pure beauty and yet, so terrified.

The hug, Vigeland Installation; private archive

But I promise you, you won’t forget it ever! That impression you’ll get, it will follow you forever.

So this is a city for brave explorers who can handle things that are bigger than life. In a combination with stone-cold winter and heavy weather conditions, you will understand all those feelings I’m talking about. You will understand the art that those famous Norwegian artists created. You won’t be indifferent about it for sure.

So here are some places and things you wouldn’t want to miss, while you’re there.

Oslo city tour

If you want to see the authenticity of the city, start with sightseeing. Lucky for you, in this case, all the important sights are in the city center, almost in the same street.

Oslo Opera & Ballet House, private archive

Start with The Royal Palace and the parks around it. Every park in Oslo has hidden treasures like majestic sculptures or romantic ponds. Following the straight main street, you’ll come across The National theatre on the one side of it, and University of Oslo Aula on the other. UiO hosts lots of cultural and academic events, so maybe you’ll catch some.

Oslo City Hall

The next stop is The Norwegian Parliament following the main street with lots of shops and restaurants. At the end of the main street is Oslo Central Station, but behind it, you can see a fantastic architecture of the Opera & Ballet building. What’s interesting about it (besides it is located right on the water) is that the structure allows tourists to climb on the roof of the building. There you have a panoramic view of the city center and the shore. Just next to the Opera House lies a new building of the Munch Museum, that will open in spring 2020.

Following the shore, the next stop is Oslo City Hall, Akershus Fortress and Aker Brygge. Akershus Castle has been used as a prison, a military base and now as the office of the Prime minister of Norway. From the top of the fortress, you will have a spectacular view of the entire marine and shore.

Bonus tip: watch the sunset from the fortress, you’ll thank me later!

Aker Brygge is a popular downtown shopping, entertainment and residential area. Because it is crossed with canals and bridges it reminds of Venice or Amsterdam, but much luxurious version. Tall glass buildings with apartments that light up like a Christmas tree are located on the former shipyard. But those apartments with the view on the sea, and that district at all makes the living there more expensive. It is certainly something you’d like to see!

Oslo Museums

If the weather is not doing good for you, try more indoor places – museums. There is a lot to see! Some of it is in The Historical Museum. You can use your ticket also for the Viking Ship Museum within 48 hours. And, last Saturday of the month is reserved for a free entry.

The building itself is under construction (restoring its former looks) but you can see permanent and changing exhibitions. Besides learning about Norwegian history, you can learn about other historic things. The museum has a large collection from the Middle Ages (they have real mummies!), but also from other cultures like AfricanAmerican and East Asian.

The Scream in Munch museum, Oslo

If you are more into art, I suggest visiting the Munch Museum, the biggest collection of the most famous Norwegian painter. Some of his paintings you can find in the National Gallery when it opens again in January 2020 (with a lot of famous paintings and artists). But Munch Museum contains some of his most important works, along with his belongings. This expressionist painted his inner images and mental conditions, projecting all those horrific feelings on the canvas. The Scream, Madonna, Vampire, Starry night and many more found home in this place.

The University Aula, private archive

Bonus tip: The University Aula has 11 oil paintings of Edvard Munch in their original context. It opens the door for visitors once a month on Saturdays, so check the schedule on their website if you wish to see them.

One more museum for the literature lovers is the house of Henrik Ibsen or Ibsenmuseet. It has been restored as his residence with the original interior and decor. It also includes an exhibit of playwright’s life and work. Additionally, in the street outside the museum is the artwork of Ibsen quotes embedded in the pavement. The Museum will reopen in 2021.

Frogner Park

The highlight of the city and the most impressive place is certainly Frogner Park. It is a part of Frogner Manor but in its center is a well-known Vigeland Installation, a unique piece of art. These installations make this place the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist.

Vigeland Installation in Frogner park, The Bridge, private archive

First part to be open to the public was The Bridge with its 58 sculptures. The Bridge surrounds 4 columns with lizards (demons) in different types of hugs with women.

The Fountain is a magnificent structure with 20 statues, representing different stages of life, from childhood to death. The center of the installation is The Monolith Plateau – a platform consisting of steps, terraces and The Monolith totem itself. The platform has 36 figures telling the story of life (“the circle of life”). At the center is the most famous work, an obelisk composed of 121 nude human bodies, men, women, children, young, old, weak and strong. At the end of this piece of art is the sundial (1930) and The Wheel of Life (1934).

The Monolith in Frogner park, Vigeland Installation, Oslo, private archive

Even though many critics call this place bizarre, disturbing or strange, it is more than that. They tell the story of life since you pass the main gate. So all those figures are shown in different situations and present all kinds of scenes like love, affection, tenderness, violence, parenting, partners, etc. And although the figures are locked in granite, they appear to be very alive— a combination of genders, orientations, experiences, and spirits struggling through the difficulties of existence leaving the viewers shocked and touched at the same time.

You should see it with your own eyes and decide which story are they telling.

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