Nobel City: an afternoon at Oslo’s City Hall and Nobel Peace Center

Oslo town hall

The annual Nobel Prize announcements see the beautiful city of Oslo shifted into the international spotlight. Norway’s capital is home to one of the most eagerly anticipated of the Nobel Prizes – the Peace Prize – and the city’s pride at hosting this prestigious awards is no secret. 

There’s a tangible sense of history in the iconic Rådhusplassen (City Hall Square). About 20 minutes on foot from our Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo, the square in the heart of in the Vika district is like a crossroads of Norwegian culture: to the south, the Oslofjorden leads to the Baltic Sea; to the east, the 13th century Akershus Fortress, built to protect the city; and to the north and west, the Oslo City Hall and Nobel Peace Center.

Public pride

You’ll recognize City Hall as the venue for the Peace Prize ceremony, held on 10 December every year since 1901. Overlooking the Oslofjorden, this is where the new laureate delivers his or her speech to honored guests and the media. The building is an architectural landmark inside and out, voted the city’s Structure of the Century by residents in 2005. For anyone interested in seeing how a country defines itself by its art and culture, the City Hall is a must – an array of murals and tapestries found throughout the Hall tell the story of the nation. Works by notable Norwegian artists like Edvard Munch and Per Krohg line the corridors, and Henrik Sørensen’s large-scale Art and Celebration is prominently displayed.

Give peace a chance

Found just across the square, the Peace Center maps the history of the Nobel Prize and its winners. It’s updated annually to include each new recipient – the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had already been added to the permanent installations. Offering over a century of insight, the Center offers guided tours in English and Norwegian. In addition to the permanent collection, a number of temporary exhibitions are staged throughout the year, usually highlighting specific political issues or showcasing relevant photographic works.

Have a bite

The Center is also home to Alfred, an eatery with an impressive harbor view and an innovative menu incorporating seasonal choices like pan-fried scallop served with pea cream and a honey and truffle vinaigrette, or lemon tart with fruit salad and cinnamon cream for dessert. Head to the harbor itself for a more diverse range of restaurants. Louise on Stranden 3 serves traditional Norwegian lobster, while Restaurant Marrakech at Hieronymus Heyerdahls Gate is an excellent choice for exotic Moroccan fare.

Take a walk

Primarily known for its civic buildings, the Rådhusplassen is generally rather quiet, so it’s perfect for an afternoon of culture and reflection. After lunch, take a stroll around the picturesque area – the stunning Oslofjorden dominates the scene in one direction, while the impressive architecture of the City Hall and the Peace Center is as memorable as everything they stand for.

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