This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Imposing and magnificent, the Victoria Terrasse is as resilient as the wrought iron that adorns its bones. Initially built as an apartment complex during the late 19th century, the structure housed Oslo’s elite, followed by the Norwegian police, and eventually succumbed to a Nazi occupation before enduring bombings during WWII.
Designed by architect Henrik Thrap-Meyer, the Victoria originally consisted of three quarters that made up the fashionable residential complex. Rich profiling and wrought iron details distinguish the building with deeply profiled horizontal bands that mark the two main floors. The exterior boasts polished, white painted tile brick, and is enhanced by decorative towers, domes, and cupolas.
Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen lived on the first floor from 1891 to 1895, during which time, he wrote and produced two plays: “Hedda Gabler” (1890) and “The Master Builder” (1892). A founder of modernism in theatre and considered one of Europe’s most distinguished playwrights, Ibsen was highly influential during his time and is now the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare.
The Victoria’s prominence as an artistic oasis was unfortunately short lived. The Norwegian government began using the complex as a base for police and political departments. During WWII, it was infamously superseded by SiPo and the SS to serve as Nazi headquarters. The Victoria on famous for its luxurious extravagance soon became synonymous for abuse of prisoners of war. The Allies attempted to destroy the complex by bombing it twice, but were unsuccessful.
The Victoria Terrasse is now home to Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Comprised of 110 foreign missions the Ministry also includes the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), FK Norway – the Norwegian “Peace Corps” – and the developing country investment fund Norfund.
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