Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Munkholmen

We enjoyed a day of shopping and exploring downtown yesterday, taking it a little bit easy after several trips. In the evening we cracked up watching Galaxy Quest and playing Rock Band.

This morning, Hez and I went running on a path along the fjord and through the forest at Rotvoll. It was raining lightly, but that didn't stop us from getting a little exercise. Afterwards, we picked up the others and went downtown for lunch at the fish market and then a trip to Munkholmen.

Munkholmen is the fortress on the island directly in front of Trondheim. Its history goes back at least 1000 years. It has been used in turn as a fortress, monastery, prison, fortress again, and now as a recreation area, open only during the summer. This is the final week of the season that the island is open, and we take the boat to visit.

Because of the rain, we have the island and a tour of the tower to ourselves. The fortress is fascinating. We see cells, an acoustically amazing domed room, and the top of the tower where German anti-aircraft guns once stood. Munkholmen's most famous prison was Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld, who was prime minister of Denmark. He wrote the original Norwegian constitution and is hailed as the Father of the Constitution. Unfortunately, soon thereafter he began to talk of democracy, so the king had him arrested. He was imprisoned for 18 years, released the year before his death because of poor health. We heard other stories of prisoners here, like the 19 year old man who was arrested for insulting his mother-in-law, a Duchess. He lived in the prison until he died 50 years later. I was quite struck by how much people long ago were subject to the whims of the wealthy and the powerful.


Another thing of interest was a map of the tower made by the Germans during the Nazi occupation. The map lists the "new name" of Trondheim. They had planned to rename the city Drontheim, switching two letters to add psychological assault on the residents of the city. This is no longer your city of Trondheim, this is OUR city of Drontheim! Interesting tactic.

We spend a quiet evening at home watching Doctor Who and eating pizza, then off to bed for an early morning departure.

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