Gamlehaugen Castle in Norway Travel Guide

Gamlehaugen Castle

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    A royal residence in Bergen, the grand Gamlehaugen Castle dates back to the Middle Ages and still serves as a summer home for the King of Norway and his family. Also home to a museum, spectacular grounds, a boat house, stables and more, Gamlehaugen Castle is a popular cultural heritage spot for visitors from all around the world.

    Learn all you need to know about Gamlehaugen Castle in our complete travel guide, including where exactly this fortress is, how to get there, its history and top tips for visitors.

    Norway’s Spectacular Gamlehaugen Castle

    Let’s begin by discovering more about the fascinating history of Gamlehaugen Castle and how this royal mansion is currently used by the Norwegian royal family.

    History of Gamlehaugen Castle

    The site of a farm in the Middle Ages, Gamlehaugen Castle was abandoned in the Black Death, subsequently becoming farmland again and passing from hand to hand over the centuries. Many of the most wealthy and prominent residents of Bergen have lived in Gamlehaugen.

    In 1898, a man named Christian Michelsen became the owner of the castle. An influential businessman and politician, Michelsen demolished the existing Swiss chalet style building and commissioned a Scottish baronial castle to be built in its place.

    Designed by an architect named Jens Zetlitz Monrad Kielland, who would later design Bergen Railway Station and the harborside buildings at Bryggen, Gamlehaugen Castle was finished in 1900. The surrounding farmland was converted into an English landscape garden full of fruit trees and bushes.

    Christian Michelsen lived in Gamlehaugen Castle with his family for the rest of his life, apart from the years 1905 to 1907 when he was the first Prime Minister of Norway. When he died in 1925, a nationwide fundraising campaign was started to preserve the castle, following which the state bought Gamlehaugen and it’s been in public ownership ever since.

    Gamlehaugen Castle Palace in Norway

    Gamlehaugen Castle in the Present Day

    Following a renovation between 1989 and 1991, the current King of Norway (King Harald V) and Queen Sonja visited Gamlehaugen Castle. Then, when Crown Prince Haakon attended the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in the 1990s, he resided in Gamlehaugen Castle, too.

    As well as still serving as a royal residence, specifically as a summer home for King Harald V and his family, parts of Gamlehaugen Castle’s interior and exterior are open for the public to visit. The first floor of Gamlehaugen is now a museum devoted to Christian Michelsen’s life and legacy, with the interiors preserved as it was when he lived at the castle.

    As for the exterior, the park at Gamlehaugen Castle has been open to the public since 1925, where you can still see some of the original trees that have been on the grounds since before Michelsen acquired the castle. A greenhouse, potato cellar, boat house and stables can also be visited at Gamlehaugen, as well as the nearby waterside where it’s popular to swim and sunbathe during the summer months.

    Where is Gamlehaugen Castle?

    Located around 6 kilometers outside Bergen, which is the center of the second-largest city in Norway, Gamlehaugen Castle is on the bank of the beautiful Lake Nordasvatnet. Just a 5-minute drive from the historic Fantoft Stave Church, Gamlehaugen is south of the main center of Bergen.

    How to Get to Gamlehaugen Castle

    To reach Gamlehaugen Castle from the center of Bergen, you’ll need to drive for just 12 minutes via the E39.

    If you’ll be traveling from the nearby city of Stavanger, the third-largest in Norway, you’ll need to travel for around 4 hours and 30 minutes via the E39.

    From further afield, the trip from the Norwegian capital of Oslo takes 7 hours via the Rv7.

    Gamlehaugen Palace in Norway

    Visiting Gamlehaugen Castle

    When planning your trip to Gamlehaugen Castle, here are some of the best things you can do in the area:

    • Explore Gamlehaugen’s history and legacy in the castle itself – Of course, exploring the museum inside the castle is a must-do during your time at Gamlehaugen. The lower floor of the castle is open for visitors during the summer months of June, July and August, and includes access to Christian Michelsen’s old office.
    • Bathe in the nearby water of Lake Nordasvatnet – One of the most popular things to do near Gamlehaugen is to enjoy a refreshing swim in the water.
    • Play some outdoor sports – The natural areas around Gamlehaugen are the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor sporting activities.
    • Enjoy a picnic in the gardens – Where better to eat your lunch than in the beautiful park and gardens of Gamlehaugen?
    • Take a stroll through the grounds – While at Gamlehaugen, you just have to stroll through the spectacular grounds and soak in all the incredible nature as you go!

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