The Observatory

The University of Oslo's Observatory, built in 1833

Initially completed in 1833, the Observatory is the oldest part of Oslo University. In 1834, Christopher Hansteen moved into the building and conducted scientific measurements and astronomical observations for the annual Norwegian almanac. Thanks to him, Oslo (then called Kristiania) moved toward standard time, weights, and maps.


Designed by architect Christian Heinrich Grosch, the Observatory is a three-story building done in a neoclassical style (like most of the university buildings from that time). The focal point of the building is an ornately-decorated rotunda that led to the observation rooms.

Bust of Christopher Hansteen at the University of Oslo's Observatory

Bust of Christopher Hansteen at the Observatory

The Observatory was recently refurbished to commemorate the University of Oslo’s 200th anniversary and is now adorned with instruments and decor from Hansteen’s time. Much of the 19th-century technology was reinstated, such as the mechanically-controlled opening roof in the Astronomical Tower (below).

The astronomical tower at the University of Oslo's Observatory

The Observatory’s Astronomical Tower

The Meridian Room

Perhaps the most important room in the history of the Observatory, the Meridian Room is where Hansteen determined the longitude of Kristiania through fastidious observations of the North Star and collaboration with the Royal Society in London. Initially, he intended for the 0-degree (meridian) line to pass through this room; but the Englishmen beat him by having it in Greenwich (on the outskirts of London) instead.

The meridian room at the University of Oslo's Observatory

The roof and windows open up for a 360-degree view of Oslo - from north to south.

The roof and windows open up for a 360-degree view of Oslo – from north to south

As the city expanded, the Observatory no longer stands unobstructed on the hilltop. Though it is no longer used for looking at the stars, the Observatory serves as a significant historical and architectural site in Norway’s past journey to become a sovereign nation.

Snapshots from Stavanger

Hope you are all having a fabulous week! 🙂 As promised, here are some pictures and thoughts from my trip to Stavanger 😉

View of Stavanger from Valbergtårnet (Valberg tower)

Stavanger is a compact, coastal city. The water lends an atmosphere of leisure to the city and provides a calming presence as you walk around the shops and restaurants.

You can get a great view of the town and harbour from ValbergtÃ¥rnet (Valberg tower). Strategically situated on a hilltop at the centre of the city, the tower was where watchmen would keep a lookout for fires and alert the townspeople. Now, it is home to the Watchmen’s Museum.

Stavanger is known as the oil capital of Norway. The lucrative petroleum and energy sector attract people from around the world to this region, resulting in a multicultural city. Because of this strong connection to oil, the Norwegian Oil Museum is located here.

Norsk Oljemuseum / The Norwegian Oil Museum, Stavanger, Norway

Things to keep in mind:

  • The west coast of Norway is notorious for rain. Stavanger is no exception. Be ready for your umbrella to break (as mine did) in the strong wind.
  • You have to strongly indicate that you want to take a bus. The driver will not slow down if you do not wave to him as soon as you see the bus approach the stop.

Enjoy your weekend! 🙂