Imposing stone cathedral facade with towers
Architecture,  Norway

The northernmost Gothic cathedral in the world

Trondheim’s Nidaros Cathedral is the world’s northernmost Gothic cathedral. It was built over the tomb of King Olav II (reigned 1015–1028), the Viking king who converted Norway to Christianity. He reigned from 1015 to 1028 and later became the country’s patron saint. It is here that Norwegian kings are crowned, not in the capital Oslo.

On the morning after my arrival in Trondheim, and before boarding the Hurtigruten ship that would take us to Tromsø, I had time to take a walk through the town. My main aim was to visit this impressive cathedral, surprisingly large for a town of this size. I promised you a visit in my previous post about Trondheim so let’s explore …

Although the cathedral dates back to the late 13th/early 14th centuries, little remains from that time. It has suffered from a number of fires, in 1327, 1531, 1708 and 1719. It was rebuilt for the last time from 1869 onwards but only officially completed in 2001. However it exudes history and, despite quite a large number of tourists when I visited, a sense of calm.

Cathedral with green roof and spire
Nideros Cathedral
Crucifix and saints carved in stone
West front detail

The West Front (in my feature photo and above) was entirely restored from 1905 to 1983. Only five statues from the Middle Ages have survived. I’m not 100% sure which these are, but some are clearly in poor condition and of a darker stone, so I have my suspicions! Some of the remaining medieval statues, in poor condition, are on display in the museum, which I didn’t have time to visit.

Inside the cathedral

Cathedral interior with crucifix and vaulted ceiling
View towards the altar
Cathedral interior with crucifix and vaulted ceiling
View towards the altar

Inside I revelled in the wealth of stained glass (mostly late 19th or early 20th century). The windows depict Bible stories, the Old Testament on the north side (characterised by blue tones) and the New Testament on the south (with mainly red tones). The great rose window on the west front represents Judgement Day.

I was especially taken by the beautifully carved stone font but could find no information about it. The stone seems similar to that of the building itself.

The Sami altar was consecrated during ‘Tråante’, the centennial of the Sami Assembly, in 2017. It was created by a Sami artist, Folke Fjällström. It is made from birch which has been oiled and processed in the Sami tradition.

When I left the cathedral there was just time for a few photos of sculptures outside the nearby art museum, and of the lovely war memorial in the cathedral grounds.

Sculpture of round gold mask
Outside the art museum
Sculpture of strange figure with protruding limbs
Outside the art museum
Sculpture of mother and child
War memorial sculpture

And of course I couldn’t leave with taking just one last street photo on my way back to the hotel!

Man playing accordian
Street musician

I visited Trondheim in May 2023


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