I’ve heard it said that some people think the Oslo City Hall is the ugliest building in Norway, but I don’t agree. I loved it instantly the day we walked around the exterior, the imposing solidity and the detail on the outside of the building impressed me. Here I am on the side that faces the harbor.
We were unable to go inside during the National Day Holiday Weekend, so we had to come back another day to view the interior, but the outside spaces are pretty impressive. Some motifs reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright. The roof of the eastern tower has a 49-bell carillon which plays every hour.
The clock on the harbor side is very simple but on the city side there’s an ornate astronomical one. … and in the courtyard under that clock there are art works on both sides of the entrance depicting old Norse Mythology.
Courtyard Woodcuts display Mythology Motifs
Construction started in 1931, but was interrupted by World War ll and the occupation of Norway before being completed and having it’s official inauguration in 1950. The building was considered a necessary focal point where Norwegians could take pride in their country after the war.
Mural depicting WWll German Occupiers who are portrayed as insects forcing the people of Norway into camps
There is a huge main hall and there are beautiful impressively furnished rooms with high ceilings and many murals depicting Norwegians as hard working industrious people. There is also one room with art that portrays the dark days of Nazi occupation using images of insects forcing suffering people into camps. I spent some time in this room feeling very overwhelmed by emotion as I viewed the grim artwork that fills all the walls and the ceiling of the space.
Norwegian architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson designed the building after the model of the Stockholm City hall. The first stone of the edifice was traditionally laid down by King Haakon VII. Because construction and design of this building took 30 years to complete the art esthetic changed over the course of the building’s erection and the architects used both romanticist and modernist concepts in creating the City Hall.
Huge murals depict hardworking Norwegians fill much of the interior spaces in Oslo City Hall
There is also art portraying the Norwegian love of nature and being outdoors. Because the country is so large and the population so small it’s possible to be very much away from civilization. I have heard it said that when a Norwegian sets out on a hike alone the day can be ruined if they have the misfortune to encounter another person.
Each year on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death (December 10) Oslo City Hall hosts the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in which the annual laureate gives his or her lecture and is awarded the medal and diploma. The Norwegian Royal Family and Prime Minister attend.
While the memories of meeting the people who are my wife’s second family in Norway were the most exciting and gratifying part of our Honeymoon, the fact that Chelsea has a relentless desire to travel and take in sights and history made the trip a very full and satisfying one. I’m a somewhat clueless devotee of architecture but I know what I like when I see it and I’m always fascinated to see more of the stuff that humans build.