Somebody wants to remove the viking king

One of the worlds biggest sun dials, some say the biggest, is in my home town of Trondheim. The sun dial is just at the heart of the town square. That is a tall granite column with a statue of the city’s founder on the top, the viking king Olav Tryggvason (king from about 995 to 1000). Around the statue the cobblestone mosaic forms a gigantic sundial. So when the sun pops out, the column casts its shadow on a cobblestone clock face. The first two pictures show the sun dial when it was repaired in 2001.

These days the city government is thinking to remove this sun dial. Because a couple of rich merchants wants to change the town square, and have given the city a huge amount of money to do so, that is 50 million NOK. In return the want to participate in the decisions, and in the plans I have seen there was no sun dial. Actually not even the statue of the king, but I think they have changed their mind about that. Because there are a lot of protests, and it should be. Nobody wants to remove admiral Nelson or his column on Trafalgar Square in London I guess, or Fontana di Trevi in Rome. So why remove what is really a focal point and landmark in Trondheim, just because it is a smaller town.

NO, said the well known art painter Håkon Bleken and asked the Directorate for Cultural Heritage to interfere. They did. At least they told the local authorities in Trondheim to do nothing before the case was properly evaluated by them, since a square like this is of national importance. The city square is the hub in the baroque town planning made by Johan Caspar von Cicignon (born in Luxembourg in 1625, died in Norway in 1696).

The photo is showing the streef of Munkegata, from the tower of Nidarosdomen Cathedral towards the city square, and beyond towards the fjord and the small island Munkholmen. The city of Trondheim got a modern design very early. The big fire in Trondheim in 1681 led to an almost total reconstruction of the city, a plan designed by Cicignon. His baroque style is still used as a gudideline in much of Trondheim’s city centre. In later years there have been quite the debate over whether or not the plan’s intentions are being stretched by entrepreneurs trying to profit from infringing the plan’s strict building boundaries, according to Wikipedia, and others.

Trondheim celebrated 1000 years in 1997. The statue and the sun dial is not that old. The statue was made by the sculptor Wilhelm Rasmussen in 1921.

There are things going on on the city square in trondheim, sometimes, but the the local authorities want the place to be used even more. I agree. And I agree even more with the historian who now says that it is not the square that needs to be changed for that to happen. It is what’s in the surrounding houses that needs to be changed. Insurance companies, banks and an oil company like today does create crowds in the city center.

There are some more photos from Trondheim in my web gallery.

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