King Olav Haraldsson was buried by Nidelven, the river Nid, after he was killed in the battle of Stiklestad in1030. Tradition has it that the high Altar of the Cathedral now stands on the exact spot of this burial site. One year and five days after he died the King was declared a saint, and pilgrims began to flock to Nidaros and the King's grave.
Work on erecting the first stone church at St. Olav's burial site commenced around 1070, and it is assumed that the Cathedral was finished in all its splendour some time around 1300. It was then held to be the most beautiful church in the entire country, which we of course claim it still is! Admittedly, the Cathedral has undergone a great deal of restoration work after centuries of decay, but now, after more than 130 years of restoration and rebuilding, we can really appreciate the impression the church must have made on medieval pilgrims.
Today the Cathedral continues to attract a great number of visitors. Each year we receive around 400 000 tourists from around the globe. The Cathedral also serves as the local parish church for inhabitants of downtown Trondheim with divine services given several times each week. Moreover, music recitals in the Cathedral offer sublime listening experiences under the high vaulted arches.
The Crown Jewels
The first crowning of a King in the Nordic countries took place in Norway in 1163 in Bergen. In connection with this event the King had to promise that his own crown, and that of all his successors, would be kept in Christchurch in Nidaros, for the eternal honour of God and St. Olav. A number of kings were crowned later, but the crowning was not always performed in Trondheim. According to the 1814 Constitution, the King was to be crowned in Nidaros Cathedral. Norway did not have any crown jewels, but King Carl III John personally undertook, at his own expense, to have a royal crown made. For the crowning ceremony in Nidaros Cathedral in 1818, he brought with him the crown and other regalia he had ordered in Stockholm. The Queen's Crown, and the Queen's orb with a cross and the sceptre were made in Stockholm in 1830.
Nidaros Cathedral and the Crown Jewels
The crown jewels or regalia are the symbols of royal power, comprising crowns for the King, the Queen and the royal heir (the Crown Prince crown). Moreover, there is an anointment horn, a sword of the realm, two sceptres and two gold orbs with crosses. The only one of these pieces that was made in Norway is the Crown Prince's crown, which looks like a fairy-tale crown with eight points, ornamented with Norwegian freshwater pearls and coloured stones. The crown jewels were moved to Nidaros Cathedral in 1988, thus indicating the position of the Cathedral as the church for crowning the monarchy in Norway.
Crowning and blessing
The Article on Crowning was removed from the Constitution in 1908. The last royal couple to be crowned was thus King Haakon and Queen Maud in 1906. When King Haakon passed away in 1957, a blessing ceremony was held, with King Olav being blessed in front of the High Altar on 22 June 1958. King Harald and Queen Sonja were blessed in Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991. On that occasion the King's and the Queen's Crowns were placed on each side of the High Altar.
The King's Crown
Weighing 1.5 kg, the Crown is made from pure gold. It has a 4 cm high ring carrying eight loops which meet in the middle in a slightly recessed cross. The top features a globe in blue enamel strewn with small gold stars. The Crown is dominated by a large 6.3 cm high tourmaline stone, which is said to have been a gift given to King Carl John from the Brazilian consul in Stockholm. The top of the crown is made from purple velvet and decorated with small crowns embroidered with genuine gold thread. Fifty pearls have been inlaid between the crowns.