2 August 2011

Trondheim town

The waterside of Trondheim may be its most attractive feature but the rest of the town has some considerable merit, history and charm too.

The town is laid out in a grid pattern with the newer roads spaced well apart in lessons learnt from the fires that destroyed their predecessors.

The wide boulevards makes walking the town pleasant and the simple grid structure gives you lots of ways to explore the town with no risk of ever getting lost.

The roads converge on the large central square.

This is a meeting place for people with several cafes on the edge, it is also a market at times and, when it's sunny, a sundial.

Keeping a watchful eye over the square is King Olav Tryggvason who founded Trondheim in 997. It's not the most impressive statue in the world but at 18m tall the pillar grabs your attention from some distance.

The wide street south of there takes you directly to the main landmark in Trondheim, the Nidaros Cathedral. Like many churches this has a long history of destruction and restoration which means that most of it is not actually that old but if all you want to do is lap up the detailed Gothic decorations then its age does not really matter.

The downside of the cathedral is that you have to pay to go inside it. I didn't.

Keeping with history for the moment but stepping a little out of the town we have the remains of the old fort which, like the cathedral, has been restored, costs to go inside and was not visited by me.

The outside was good enough.

The fort tries to protect the town from its vantage point on a small hill just to the east of the town but, like the forts in Oslo and Bergen, it is more symbolic than functional.

And being on a hill it offers views back across the town that are worth making the climb up for.

Having seen the town from the outside it is time to climb back down the hill, cross the water and go back to exploring the town up close and on foot.

Taking random turns in the north-west quadrant we find remnants of the old town.

Here the buildings are of a similar style to those on the waterfront, but without the stilts.

They are huddled closer together than their peers in the newer parts of the town and are separated by quiet cobbled streets.

These are the houses that escaped the old fires and have gained some bravado as a result.

Wide streets are for wimps.

The town is liberally peppered with small open spaces many of which hide skilfully from the casual visitors who keep to the main streets.

Any open space seems to be an excuse for a work of art whether it is a simple statue of a woman carrying a bag, a series of elephant-like stones pouring water on each other, a speeding skater, two deer or a bold slab of curved stone beside a square pond.

This proliferation of statues and other works of art was common across Norway and is one of its many pleasing characteristics.

Trondheim is not a large town and is easily traversed, if not properly explored, in little more than an hour. You encounter a lot of variety as you do so and while the cathedral is easily the biggest attraction there is plenty to discover along the way.

My favourite part is the old quarter so I'll end with another picture from there. I walk through cities in the hope of finding places like this.

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