My Never-To-Be-Forgotten Journey to Fredriksten Fortress
Fredriksten Fortress is located right on Norway’s border with Sweden, and it is the fortress that played a key role in the history of this Scandinavian country. Charles XII, the King of Sweden, was shot dead while inspecting this fortress after his troops had besieged and conquered it. Though, the circumstances of his death remain unclear up to the present time: while some people believe that he was killed by the Norwegians, others assume that his murder was a result of a plot of the Swedish elite.
Even though this place is of significant importance for the Norwegians in terms of history and Norwegian-Swedish relations, it is quite difficult to get there, so not so many tourists venture to head to Halden in order to have a look at Fredriksten Fortress. It requires spending at least a half of the day (if not more) and the trip overall appears to be quite costly, though, as this article proves, the journey is fairly worth it.
Arrival to Fredrikstad
The first thing I did is purchasing a railway ticket Oslo – Fredrikstad. It took a bit less than an hour for me to arrive to Fredrikstad, an old military town that played an important role in the history of Norway. Now, Fredrikstad is one of only two preserved old military towns in Europe, yet it appears to be preserved better than the one in France.
Nowadays, indeed, there are no militaries, as Fredrikstad had turned into an ordinary civil town over time. Yet, its old town remained pretty untouched, and you still can stroll the cozy, tiny streets of Fredrikstad’s old town, where only militaries had lived just a few centuries ago.
A cozy café right in the center of Fredrikstad’s old town is a bright example of turning into a civil organization. Several centuries ago, it was a café where only military officers could enter – a canteen for soldiers had been located just across the street. Now, you can still perceive the very sense of the café’s old history, as its interior looks the same way as a few hundred years ago. I would highly suggest you to try some of its really delicious and somewhat out-and-outer desserts.
Sometimes, while passing an ordinary house in Fredrikstad, you may notice that some clothes and other items are either hanging on the door or placed near it. Don’t be surprised – it is just a way of selling goods in this little town, as its inhabitants know everyone, except tourists. Typically, a person who wants to buy something just takes that item and leaves the money there.
The center of the old town has, indeed, a great appearance and has been perfectly preserved. There is one notable building out there – a building that was built in accordance with the time periods (4 floors for 4 seasons, 365 rooms for 365 days, etc.). Also, there is another typical appliance for such old towns – a pillory, which is located exactly on the people’s way to the church. Created for the humiliation of thieves, rapists, and all kinds of thugs, a pillory had been quite an effective tool at that time.
Road to Fredriksten Fortress with One Memorable Stop
Prior I continued my way to Fredriksten Fortress, I was suggested to have a look at Norway’s border with Sweden – both Fredrikstad and Halden are located on the very border with Sweden. We stopped some 50 meters before a large bridge, the way we continued walking. Once we had reached the middle of the bridge, there was a white line on both the road and sidewalks. From one side, there was written “Norge,” while from the other – “Sverige.”
The border between Norway and Sweden actually lies across a fjord, and there are several more border-divided bridges in a way like this bridge was. Even though the wind is quite strong out there, it is worth to drop in and stand on that bridge at least some five minutes – the view of the fjord and landscapes is just marvelous and, indeed, inspiring.
Some 10 minutes of drive from there, on the top of the city of Halden, there is the renowned Fredriksten Fortress, which has played a key role in a number of Norwegian-Swedish wars. Nowadays, Fredriksten (“sten” comes from “stone”, i.e. fortress) is a popular, yet hardly-reachable tourist attraction. A field, located right near an entry to Fredriksten Fortress, serves as a site for various festivals and Halden camping events in summer. There are even hotels that were established right within the fortress, so you can be sure you will face no problems with staying overnight there.
Even though the fortress does not have any military significance nowadays – since the year of 1814, when Norway lost its last fight against Sweden there – it still houses certain military units. There are also art exhibitions and museums available at the fortress. But, perhaps, the most important thing is that the fortress had been preserved in almost ideal state.
Once you step inside of Fredriksten Fortress, you immediately notice that walking there – especially when it’s raining or snowing – not very comfortable, since all its ground is covered with paving stones. There are numerous cannons placed on sides of the fortress, as well as a pillory placed out there – as we walked across the fortress, one “witty” tourist tried to experience how does it feel to be placed in the pillory.
The site where the pillory is placed is somewhat interesting – I am still wondering why the militaries decided to place it there. The very moment you step on that ground, you get to see marvelous fjords opened in front of you, and that view is really unforgettable (don’t forget to take some photos). Theoretically, you can get to the top of the fortress, but it’s a fairly difficult task to do even in a normal weather, to say nothing of our situation when a mix of rain and snow was falling over and over. But it didn’t really hinder us to enjoy those picturesque, lovely views.
Departure from Halden…
At the end, I was both tired and excited. I was really excited and impressed to have seen all those old towns, the fortress, cozy streets with vintage houses, majestic fjords with picturesque landscapes. At the same time, such a great quantity of wonderful sites and edifices actually exhausted me during such a short period of time – I wish I could stay there for a bit longer!
So I purchased a ticket for the train Halden – Oslo and spent an hour of road back, still being impressed but what I have seen. Not less inspiring and exciting journey across Oslo was awaiting me then.
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