Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral
Nidarosdomen / Nidaros Domkirke

View of the church, west front

Nidaros Cathedral is located in Sør-Trøndelag
Nidaros Cathedral
Location in Sør-Trøndelag
Coordinates: 63°25′37″N 10°23′49″E / 63.4269°N 10.3969°E / 63.4269; 10.3969
Location Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag
Country Norway
Denomination Church of Norway
Churchmanship Evangelical
Founded c. 1070
Status Cathedral
Functional status Active
Architect(s) Heinrich Ernst Schirmer
and Christian Christie
Style Romanesque and Gothic
Completed 2001
Materials Stone
Parish Nidaros Domkirke og Vår Frue
Deanery Nidaros
Diocese Diocese of Nidaros

Nidaros Cathedral (Norwegian: Nidarosdomen / Nidaros Domkirke) is a Church of Norway cathedral located in the city of Trondheim in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. It was the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nidaros from its establishment in 1152 until its abolition in 1537. Since the Reformation, it has been the cathedral of the Lutheran bishops of Trondheim (or Nidaros) in the Diocese of Nidaros. The architectural style of the cathedral is Romanesque and Gothic. Historically it was an important destination for pilgrims coming from all of Northern Europe. It is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.

Along with Vår Frue Church, the cathedral is part of the Nidaros og Vår Frue parish in the Nidaros deanery in the Diocese of Nidaros.


Building and restoration

Work on the cathedral started in 1070 and was finished sometime around 1300. The cathedral was badly damaged by fires in 1327 and again in 1531. The nave west of the transept was destroyed and was not rebuilt until the restoration in early 1900s. In 1708 it burned down completely except for the stone walls. It was struck by lightning in 1719, and was again ravaged by fire. Major rebuilding and restoration of the cathedral started in 1869, initially led by architect Heinrich Ernst Schirmer, and nearly completed by Christian Christie. It was officially completed in 2001. Maintenance of the cathedral is an ongoing process.

The oldest parts of the cathedral consist of the octagon with its surrounding ambulatory in which was the original high altar with the reliquary casket of St. Olav and choir. The original inspiration for this octagon may have been the Corona of Canterbury Cathedral, although octagonal shrines have a long history in Christian architecture. The choir itself appears to have been inspired by the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral and is joined to the octagon by a stone screen that fills the entire east side of the choir. The principal arch of this screen is subdivided into three subsiderary arches the central arch framing a statue of Christ the Teacher standing on the top of a central arch of three further subsiderary arches below him. The space above the principal arch and corresponding to the vault of the choir contains a crucifix between statues of the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Built into the north side of the ambulatory surrounding the octagon is a small well from which a bucket was could lowered to draw up water could be drawn from the spring that originated from St. Olav's original burial place beneath the later cathedrals.

The present cathedral has two principal altars. The one in the octagon at the east end of the chancel rests on the site of the medieval high altar which bore the silver reliquary casket containing the remains of St. Olav[1], the church's and the kingdom's patron saint, and is designed to recall in marble sculpture the essential form of this reliquary casket. It replaces the previous baroque altar presently in Vår Frue Church. The second altar is in the crossing where the transept intersect the nave and the chancel. It bears a large modern silver crucifix inspired by the memory of a similar silver crucifix in the medieval church and was commissioned and paid for by Norwegian American emigrants in the early twentieth century. The medieval chapter house may also be used as a chapel for smaller groups of worshippers.

All the stained glass in the cathedral dates from its rebuilding in the 19th and 20th centuries. The windows on the north side of the church depicts scenes from the Old Testament against a blue background, while those on the south side of the church depict scenes from the New Testament against a red background.


Two organs are installed in the Cathedral. The main organ was built by the Steinmeyer firm in 1930, and was erected in the north transept. It then had 125 stops. Installation of the Steinmeyer organ was commissioned in 1930 for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Stiklestad. The organ was funded mostly by donations, particularly by Elias Anton Cappelen Smith. In 1962, the organ was heavily rebuilt and moved to the west nave. Many stops were removed; some of them were used to build a new choir organ.[2]

The old Baroque organ built by Johann Joachim Wagner in 1738-1740 was carefully restored by Jürgen Ahrend between 1993-1994. It has 30 stops and is located at a gallery in the north transept.[3]

At present

Today, the cathedral is a popular tourist attraction. Tourists often follow the historical pilgrim routes to visit the spectacular church. It is also featured on the cover of black metal band Mayhem's album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.

Media gallery


  • Nidaros Cathedral Choir
  • Nidaros Cathedral Boys' Choir
  • Nidaros Cathedral Girls' Choir
  • Schola Sancta Sunnivae
  • Nidaros Vocalis
  • Nidaros Oratory Choir


  1. ^ This silver-gilt reliquary casket was melt down for coinage by Christian II and St. Olav's remains buried in an unknown location under the cathedral. The only relic known to have survived is a femur in a silver-gilt reliquary in the shape of a forearm given by Queen Josephine to St. Olav Catholic Cathedral in Oslo. The original reliquary casket is was in the form of a church, but one with dragon heads on its gables, similar to those found on the gables of Norwegian stave churches. Surviving medieval reliquary caskets in Norway frequently also bear such dragon heads, e. g., that at Hedal stave church.
  2. ^ "The Nidaros Cathedral Steinmeyer Organ". Department of Musicology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 
  3. ^ "The Nidaros Cathedral Wagner Organ". Department of Musicology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 

External links

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