Oslo, Norway’s attractive capital, has many attractions and two outdoor venues are high on the list of things to do. Oslo’s most visited museum attraction is an outdoor sculpture park. The Vigeland Sculpture Park (Tel: 2349 3700; Email: email@example.com) covers an area of 80 acres. The 212 remarkable sculptures were all designed by Gustav Vigeland. He also designed the architectural setting and the layout of the grounds. The sculptures are placed on an 850-meter long axis divided into 5 main sections. There is also a Vigeland Museum but this is much less known.
The park has sculptures in bronze and granite and several wrought iron gates. Vigeland modelled all his sculptures in full size and the result is stunning. The carving in stone and the casting in bronze were left to a number of talented craftsmen who worked with him.
The construction of the park took quite a few years. The area east of the two Frogner ponds was opened to the public in the 1890s. The area west of the ponds was in 1924 given to Vigeland for the construction of the Fountain, the Monolith and the many granite groups at the Monolith plateau. Around 1930 the sculpture park was enlarged eastwards, to include a new bridge decorated with sculptures and a unique main entrance in granite and wrought iron.
Unfortunately, Vigeland did not live to see the completed park. The majority of the sculptures and the architectural elements were not installed until about 1950. The municipality of Oslo was the main contributor to the realization of the Vigeland Park. However, a number of private persons and companies gave generous financial support. The result is a park unique in the world.
The park is about three kilometers to the northwest of the main center of the city. It is walkable on a nice day but you can also reach here by tram from the central city. You enter through the Main Gate made of wrought iron and granite. Constructed in 1926, it is an impressive feature. This main gate comprises two common gates and five major gates. There are two gatehouses with roofs made of copper.
Between the Main Gate and the Fountain, you will find the famous bronze statue of the ‘little angry boy’. This is one of the most popular sculptures in the park and you need to line up to photograph it at busy times.
Just after crossing the bridge, you see the Children’s Playground. There are eight statues made of bronze showing children at play. Right in the middle of the playground is a granite structure on top of which is the sculpture of a fetus. The area also has a pond where you will probably see some geese and ducks swimming.
The Fountain formed out of bronze features 60 separate figurines. The concept of death giving way to a new life is depicted by the several sculptures of skeletons and children in the arms of huge trees. Around the Fountain is a mosaic pattern in white and black granite.
At the Monolith Plateau you will see 36 statues portraying the concept of “circle of life”. There are eight wrought iron gates giving access to the plateau. The Monolith is the highest spot in the park. This towering structure is quite astounding and consists of 121 statues of human beings protruding upwards. I could have spent an hour here just admiring the sculptures and watching the visitors.
The Vigeland Museum is a ten-minute walk away. This is the studio of the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. In the tower is an urn containing Vigeland’s ashes. There are nine rooms on the ground floor showing a wide selection of sculptures and certain drawings. Two rooms on the next floor show plastic sketches, drawings and woodcuts. Gustav Vigeland’s flat with two sitting rooms, library and bedroom is on the top floor.
One of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump (Tel: 2292 3200; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is only a few kilometers north of the central city. This comprises the Ski Jump Tower with its spectacular views, the world’s oldest ski museum and a ski simulator where you can feel for yourself what it´s like to jump at Holmenkollen or race across county with some of the world’s fastest skiers.
There are also gift and souvenir shops, the Hoppcafè with its special Kollen-cake and a pleasant public area with outdoor service. The information in the Ski Museum is in Norwegian and English. The Holmenkollen ski jump, is host to the world’s second oldest ski jumping competition still in existence (the oldest being hosted by a small, local club named Medicinernes Ski Club in nearby Seterkollen).
The first competition in Holmenkollen proper was in 1892. Watched by a crowd of 10,000, the length achieved by the winner, Svein Sollid from Telemak, was 21.5metres. The capacity of the stands has today been increased to over 50,000 people and the jump has been extended 18 times since it was first built. This has allowed longer and longer jump records. Today’s tower extends 60 meters above ground.
During its time as a ski arena, it has served as host to nine different Nordic skiing and biathlon world championships, including the 1952 Winter Olympics. In 1923, the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, located at the base of the tower, opened. It is the oldest ski museum in the world.
Midway down the ski jump, and on the main entrance from the parking area, there is a simulator which allows you to see and feel what the ski jumpers experience. My wife tried this and said it was a great thrill.
Thought to Ponder:
I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.
For more information on Norway see Experience Norway an ebook available at www.amazon.com/kindle then search Len Rutledge.