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NorwayPalaces & Buildings

Taking a look at Mågerø – The Norwegian royals’ summer house


Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central

The Norwegian Royal Family’s favourite place in the summer is an isolated cabin on a southern Norwegian island that is actually located within the area of a military camp. While it may not sound idyllic, it is for the royals. The place is called Mågerø and means, directly translated to English, “seagulls’ island.”

The royal couple’s private summer resort, Mågerø, is located in an area called Tjøme, south of the city of Tønsberg. In 1992, the King and Queen wanted to design their new summer resort, and more than 60 architects expressed their interest. However, only three architects were selected to participate in an architectural competition. The winning project, by Lund Hagem, was chosen partly because it blended best with nature, as the royals wanted the summer place to be modern, sober and in natural materials.

The land on which the property stands is owned by the Norwegian Armed Forces. The King rents the plot from the defence but owns the buildings privately. So when the Royal Family is at Mågerø, they are under the protection of the military, which has a naval base only a few hundred metres away from the property.

In the summer of 1993, the Norwegian Royal Family was able to use the place for the very first time. The facility consists of several buildings. According to modern principles, with a free plan made with panels and rough natural stone, the houses are hidden along the hilly terrain. A mixture of windows such as picture holes in the wall and large open glass surfaces brings in the view and nature in different ways. A temporal interpretation of an old basic feature of Norwegian building practice was chosen.

A number of significant anniversaries have been celebrated there. The Royal Family has observed, among other things, Crown Prince Haakon’s 45th birthday at Mågerø. This has also been the scene of a number of private parties and celebrations as the property is quite hidden from the outside world.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.