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Oslo was founded in the mid-11th century by a Viking king and became the capital around 1300 under Haakon V. In the course of its history, the city burned down several times; fire destroyed it in 1624. The master builder Christian IV, king of Denmark and Norway, ordered the town rebuilt near the Akershus Castle. He named the new town Christiania (after himself), its official name until 1924, when the city reverted to its former name.

 

In 1814 Norway separated from Denmark and united with Sweden, a union that lasted until 1905. During that period, the Royal Palace, the House of Parliament, the old university, the National Theater, and the National Gallery were built. No slouch in the cultural department, Oslo has some of the greatest museums in all of northern Europe.

 

Oslo is also one of Europe's most heavily forested cities, and its citizens relish this standing. Oslovians love nature in both summer and winter. When the winter snows fall, they bundle up and take to their nearby ski slopes. During their brief summer, they're quick to shed their clothes and head to the pine-covered hills in the north for long hikes and picnics, or else for sails on the blue waters of Oslofjord to the south.