Historical Churches Walking Tour, Oslo

Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Oslo

Oslo's religious landscape, particularly within the Christian tradition, is a captivating tapestry interwoven with history, faith, and architectural elegance. The city boasts a collection of historical churches reflecting the evolution of local Christian communities. Diverse in their designs, these sacred sites offer a glimpse into the deep-rooted religious traditions that have shaped Oslo over the centuries.

Oslo Cathedral (Oslo Domkirke), the city's main temple, represents the Church of Norway and is a striking example of Baroque architecture. The history of this religious site dates back to the 12th century, while the current building appeared some 500 years later.

Trinity Church (Trefoldighetskirken): This Gothic Revival beauty of the Lutheran denomination stands proudly with its Medieval temple-inspired design and was completed in the 1850s.

Similar to it in terms of Neo-Gothic appearance, Saint Olav's Roman Catholic Cathedral is the principal Catholic church in Oslo. Its presence is a testament to the enduring Catholic community in the city.

The Maria Bebudelses Orthodox Church represents the Orthodox Christian faith. Its somewhat quirky façade adds a unique touch to the city's ecclesiastical scene.

The Saint James Cultural Church (Kulturkirken Jakob), originally built as a Lutheran sanctuary, today serves as a vibrant cultural center. Its diverse events and activities make it a hub for artistic and spiritual expression.

Further reflecting the city's cosmopolitan character is the quaint Anglican Saint Edmund's Church. Its simple yet charming design invites people from various backgrounds to share in its spiritual warmth.

In turn, the Swedish Margaret Church (Svenska Margaretakyrkan) serves as a spiritual home for the Church of Sweden community of Oslo. This building showcases a blend of Scandinavian and Gothic architectural styles.

Visiting these historical churches is not just an exploration of faith and history but also a chance to experience the diverse heritage of Oslo and, perhaps, understand its soul. If you wish to learn more about the religious life of the beautiful Norwegian capital, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Norway » Oslo (See other walking tours in Oslo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Oslo Cathedral
  • Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church)
  • Saint Olav's Roman Catholic Cathedral
  • Maria Bebudelses Orthodox Church
  • Kulturkirken Jakob (St. James Cultural Church)
  • St. Edmund's Church
  • Svenska Margaretakyrkan (Swedish Margaret Church)
Oslo Cathedral

1) Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral, previously known as Our Saviour’s Church, is the current cathedral for the city, and the third in the history of Oslo. The first was built in the 12th century when the city was located slightly to the east of where it now stands. Following a great fire in 1624, the city was rebuilt around Akershus Slott. The second cathedral lasted only fifty years before another fire destroyed it. The current building, located off the Stortorvet main square, was consecrated in 1697. Rebuilt in 1850 by Chateauneuf and von Hanno, this elegant, if unassuming, neo-Gothic church was most recently restored between 2006 and 2010, and reopened with a grand Mass.

The cathedral is used by the Norwegian royal family and government for public events. It was the venue for Norway’s last royal wedding in 2001, when Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, married Mette Tjessem Hoiby. The interior is notable for fine stained glass windows designed by Emanuel Vigeland, a silver sculpture by Arrigo Minerbi, and elaborate ceiling decoration by Norwegian painter Hugo Mohr. Home to the Bishop of Oslo, the church holds Mass each Sunday and is free to visit throughout the week. Guided group tours can also be arranged on weekdays.

Why You Should Visit:
Simple and elegant, and open for everyone. The pulpit and King's seating area are beautifully carved, and the ceiling and Last Supper bronze are very worth seeing.
Not merely a religious building but a center of culture for the whole city; in fact, you can often attend many different concerts and events during the year.
Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church)

2) Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church)

Trinity Church (Trefoldighetskirken) can be found nestled within the Hammersborg district, at the heart of Oslo. This church holds the status of a parish church for the Trinity parish, falling under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Oslo within the Church of Norway. Noteworthy for its considerable size, it boasts an impressive capacity of around 1000 seats.

Constructed primarily from raw red brick, the church exhibits a distinctive contrast between its grayscale-colored vaults, arches, and small columns. The architectural layout features an octagonal nave with a Greek cross laid atop it. The choir graces the apse, while a shallow transept and a rectangular entrance are flanked by two slender, octagonal bell towers. Dominating the architectural composition is a central dome that ascends proudly.

Trinity Church is not only the largest place of worship in Oslo but also stands as one of Norway's grandest examples of octagonal church architecture. Uniquely, it stands as one of the few octagonal churches fashioned from red brick.

In 1858, Trinity Church was consecrated by Bishop Jens Lauritz Arup. The church, designed by architect Alexis de Chateauneuf from Hamburg, Germany, features a neo-Gothic style with two tall towers, an eight-sided dome, and a central layout. Later, Wilhelm von Hanno, Chateauneuf's pupil, made modifications to the original plans and left a significant impact on the interior decorations.

Various components contribute to the church's aesthetic allure. Claus Jensen is credited with the construction of the main body in 1872, while the altarpiece, a depiction of the Baptism of Jesus, was painted by Adolph Tidemand in 1866. The year 1923 saw the creation of the chandeliers by Emanuel Vigeland, and the stained glass windows are the artistic vision of designer Frøydis Haavardsholm.
Saint Olav's Roman Catholic Cathedral

3) Saint Olav's Roman Catholic Cathedral

Saint Olav Cathedral stands as the primary Catholic sanctuary in Oslo. It holds the distinction of being the inaugural Catholic church erected in Norway subsequent to the Lutheran Reformation – a transformative Christian movement spearheaded by Martin Luther that momentarily suppressed Catholicism across Northern Europe.

Established in the year 1843, the cathedral's construction aimed to accommodate the burgeoning Catholic community, which expanded due to immigration into Norway. Presently, it is estimated that Norway is home to a modest Catholic population of around 36,000 individuals, with a noteworthy 60% of them being foreign-born. Since its inception, the cathedral has consistently conducted Mass in a diverse array of languages, fostering an inclusive atmosphere to attract a varied congregation.

Architect H.E. Schirmer's creative vision brought the cathedral to life in the distinctive neo-Gothic architectural style. Its formal inauguration took place in 1856, eventually rising to prominence as the central church of the Catholic Diocese of Oslo one hundred years later. Inside, the cathedral boasts several notable features, including an exquisite altarpiece capturing Raphael's Madonna, an opulent Italian marble tabernacle bestowed by Pope Pius, and a throne once utilized by Pope John Paul II during his visit in 1989.

The cathedral received a comprehensive restoration in 1975, during which a new high altar and naves pillars were incorporated. Among the cathedral's treasures is the most ancient artifact found within its walls – the sole surviving relic attributed to King Olav, Norway's patron saint and the namesake of the cathedral.
Maria Bebudelses Orthodox Church

4) Maria Bebudelses Orthodox Church

Maria Bebudelses Kirke, or Saint Mary of the Annunciation Church, is a small, unusual place of worship found on Akersbakken, close to the Stortinget in central Oslo. It is built in the traditional Scandinavian style, seen across the world as migrants from the Nordic countries set up their own churches in distant cities. Maria Bebudelses Kirke was built in 1892 to serve a growing Catholic Apostolic congregation. Sadly, whilst Norwegian congregations have survived in far flung places like Spain, the USA and the UK, the church struggled to survive, and was abandoned by the dwindling congregation in 1960.

The quirky nature of the church’s design, and the sudden, surprising collapse of its congregation, led locals to attach a mythical status to the building. Nicknamed the ‘day of judgment’ church, it was prophesised that the re-inauguration of Maria Bebudelses Kirke would herald the end of the world. Thankfully, this fanciful myth was proved untrue when a Greek Orthodox congregation moved into the church in 1986. They still hold regular services in the building, and have grown to number at least 500 worshippers. The church is also used by migrant Orthodox worshippers from other nations in south-eastern Europe, including Bulgaria and Serbia.
Kulturkirken Jakob (St. James Cultural Church)

5) Kulturkirken Jakob (St. James Cultural Church)

The Saint James Cultural Church, known locally as Kulturkirken Jakob, is a neo-Gothic church, typical of many in Scandinavia. Built in 1875, it is known for its surprisingly large capacity (up to five hundred worshipers) and excellent acoustics. As a result, the church has forged a reputation as a venue for cultural events – hence the name ‘kulturkirken’. The building hosts concerts, art exhibitions and plays. Many events carry a religious context, but the church is keen to promote local and global art and culture, regardless of its religious views.

Galleries are held in a 250 square meter exhibition room, with a bar attached. The church’s main hall, 18 meters in height, has proved a popular concert venue. While the church may look like many others around Oslo, what goes on inside the redeveloped building makes it a unique attraction. Found at the corner of Grunerlokka and Gamlebyen, the church has grown to become one of the city’s best artistic venues. Current events include Norwegian language plays and a workshop on African art and culture. The church is not open for public tours, but can be booked for private events. The building is open to paying visitors whilst performances and exhibitions are taking place.
St. Edmund's Church

6) St. Edmund's Church

Saint Edmund’s Church is an Anglican place of worship, with a predominantly English speaking congregation. The church has had a presence in the city since the mid 19th century. The current building located on Møllersgata was dedicated in 1883, and consecrated by the Bishop of Fulham. Whilst the church belongs in theory to the Church of England, it hosts worshipers from Anglophone nations around the world. Each Sunday, Saint Edmund’s congregation is made up of nationals from over twenty countries, making it one of Oslo’s most diverse churches. The Sunday service takes place at 11am, with an informal coffee morning taking place afterwards.

A compact neo-Gothic design, the church is often referred to as a miniature cathedral. Designed by architect Paul Due, it is known for its stained glass windows and ornate central spire, which stand out in a fairly drab corner of the city. The church is a welcoming city center place of worship, and hosts a Junior Church, student group and women only events. There is also a choir who host regular recitals. Saint Edmund’s Church is the popular choice for Christians visiting Oslo from other countries, or migrants looking for a new place of worship in Norway.
Svenska Margaretakyrkan (Swedish Margaret Church)

7) Svenska Margaretakyrkan (Swedish Margaret Church)

Svenska Margaretakyrkan, which translates as The Swedish Margaret Church, is found on Hammersborg Torg, north of the city center and close to many of Oslo’s most visited churches. Immediately adjacent to the Deichmanske municipal library, the church is a mortar-coated white brick building in the neoclassical style, topped with a bronze spire at its center. Created as a Swedish church, it was designed by Lars Israel Wahlman, and built in 1922. The church was consecrated by Bishop Nathan Söderblom in December 1925. The main altarpiece, depicting Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, was designed by Gunnar Torhamn.

Currently housing a predominantly Swedish congregation, this elegant church still holds regular services, on Sundays and weekday evenings. The church is perhaps best known in Oslo for its efforts during World War 2. With Norway under attack from Nazi Germany, the church provided food to a large portion of the city’s population. It is believed that over 7000 people came to Saint Margaret’s every day for food – most famously, the low-cost ‘Swedish soup’ that the church regularly served to the hungry citizens of Oslo. The church building is also known for its excellent acoustics, and choral recitals are often held here as a result.

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