If you stand at a vantage point in Oslo, Norway and look south down the fjord, almost everything in view is in Akershus county. Here’s what you can experience outwards and southwards from Oslo, Norway.
Further south, the fjord is flanked on the east by Østfold county and on the west by Vestfold county. Aside from being home to one of three residents of the country, this area plays a key role in contemporary events and history.
Outwards and Southwards from Oslo, Norway
In Akershus county, some 67km (42mi) north of Oslo lies Eidsvoll, a town that grew around the ironworks built in 1624, and closed in 1825. Eidsvoll might have been just another postindustrial town save for the happenings of the spring 1814. Following the dissolution of the union with Denmark, 112 representatives convened at the headquarters of the ironworks, then the only convenient large building, to draw up the Norwegian Constitution, Eidsvoll 1814.
The Norwegian Constitution Building
Eidsvoll Manor is now one of Norway’s most important cultural monuments and is today a museum to the Constitution and includes the room where the document was signed on 17 May 1814.
The country’s first railway, built in 1845, connected Oslo and Eidsvoll, and it’s now on the E6 highway, the major north-south artery.
Christmas all year round
Historic provincial cities and towns are scattered throughout Østfold and Vestfold counties. The best way to explore the counties, whether you travel by bus, car or boat, is via Drøbak, which has become the Norwegian residence of Santa Claus – there is a shop in the center. Julehuset, with a permanent Christmas exhibition and Santa’s own post office.
By road you will pass Vinterbro, at the junction of the E6 and E18 higways, the location if Tusenfryd, one of the country’s major amusement parks.
Picturesque Drøbak grew out of a fishermen’s settlement and fishing vessel still dock to sell fresh catch on the quayside. Places of interest include the open-air Heritage Museum in Belsjøveien, the Drøbak Aquarium and Oscarsborg Fort. Another point of pride is the cross-timbered Drøbak Church built in 1776, with an elaborately carved model for a ship inside, a common church decoration in seafaring towns.
Two forts worth a visit
Further south, Fredrikstad is a gem among Østfold towns, and Scandinavia’s only complete preserved fortress town, dating from 1567. The Oldtidsveien (Highway of the Ancients), the 18km (11mi) stretch of National Highway 140, between Fredrikstad and Skjeberg has three rock wall carving areas with Bronze Age pictographs.
Halden, south of Skjeberg and close to the Swedish border, is dominated by Fredriksten Fort, a largely intact ruin with many of its buildings swerving as small theme museums. In summer, passenger launches travel the Halden canal that runs through several sets of massive locks.
Art and history in Østfold
Museum at the locks at Ørje displays the implements of canal operations. It also arranges charter tours on the Engebret Soot, named after the designer of the canal and now the world’s oldest propeller-driven steamship in service.
Throughout Østfold, Olsok (St. Olav’s Day, 29 July) is celebrated with a great show of folk costume, music and dance. One of the best displays is at the Borgarsyssel Museum in Saprsborg, north of Skjeberg.
Drive back to the E6 which takes you northwest to Moss (where you can take the car ferry to Horten and the Vestfold), then follow the local road through Moss to reach the small island if Jeløy. Visit Gallery F15, a contemporary art museum in a 19-th century manor house.
Feature image (on top): Walter Lighthouse / Photo Visit Østfold
Outwards and Southwards from Oslo, Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg