Art - Olav Tryggvason

Olav Tryggvason. Artist: Wilhelm Rasmusen1921.

There had long been a wish for a monument to the town's founder and King of Norway, Olav Tryggvason (approximately 968–1000). As early as in 1860, the sculptors Hans Michelsen and Ole Laulo were already in the picture, but only with the 900-year celebration of the town in 1897 did the idea come to fruition, and the assignment was given to Brynjulf Bergslien. The sculpture was placed in the north end of Ilevold Park. Unfortunately, it was made from perishable material that soon dissolved. The statue now standing in Torvet (the city market square) was made by the sculptor Wilhelm Rasmussen during the years 1917-1921. He was given the assignment after a brainstorming competition that many recognized artists participated in. He faced a challenging task. The broad city streets form axes that bisect in the market square, while Nidaros Cathedral stands prominently in the background at the south end of Munkegata (a street). The sculpture was designed and placed with great awareness of it as being part of a monumental urban venue based on neoclassical ideals. The grey granite column is 14.5 metres tall, and the statue itself measures 3.5 metres. It is the tallest monument in Trondheim and quite conspicuous in the urban landscape. Olav Tryggvason is looking north and down to the fjord. He holds out a communion vessel in his left hand and holds an unsheathed sword in his right. At the feet of the king lies the head of the Norse god Thor, symbolizing the king’s victory over heathendom. With much pomp and ceremony, including citizens’ parades, singing and music, Rasmussen's monument was unveiled by King Haakon in connection with the opening of the railway line across the Dovre Mountains to Trondheim (Dovrebanen) in 1921. The column and the statue form the hand of a giant sundial made in a mosaic pattern in the city square for the millennium anniversary of Olav's death in 1930.