The unique history of Trondhjems Hospital



Trondhjems Hospital is a unique institution in Norwegian history. It has been in continuous operation since 1277. Our roots go back to a Maria-hospital from the 12th century. This gives us a unique and special place, also in a European perspective.

We are thus the oldest health institution in the Nordic region.

Trondhjems Hospital has been through changing times and regimes. Today, we work closely with Trondheim Kommune, through an operating agreement that finances various care services for our users.


The hospital is today a modern and future-oriented organization with nursing homes, housing associations for people with dementia, care homes, senior apartments, activity center for younger people with dementia, activity center for seniors and volunteer center. There are many different cultural activities associated with the Hospital, and we have our own kitchen that runs a café and catering business.

We also have our own church, Hospitalskirken, where cultural activities, such as concerts find plays in addition to traditional church activities.


Trondhjems Hospital is a charitable foundation in Trondheim that has been in continuous operation since 1277. Before that, a Maria hospital existed in the same place already in the 12th century. The hospital has always been located on what is now called Hospitalsløkkan on the outskirts of Trondheim city center. Today, the hospital operates i.a. nursing homes, care homes and home services. Significant buildings in the foundation’s possession on Hospitalsløkkan next to the nursing home / care complex are the Hospital Church from 1705.


Text byTrøndelag fylkeskommune

The main building is built of brick on two floors with a sloping vaulted roof covered with red, curved brick. Trondhjems Hospital has great value in an environmental, cultural-historical and architectural-historical context. The well-proportioned main building in Empire style, built right after the city fire in 1842, forms the foundation wall in the park behind Hospitalskirken. The hospital facility now consists of five buildings built from 1844-1977.

Trondhjems Hospital is the oldest health and social institution in Norway – and the Nordic countries – which is still in operation. The hospital is still located where it was established, on the dikes outside the medieval town, in the area that was later called the Hospitalsløkkan. On September 13, 1277, King Magnus Lagabøter put his royal seal under a document in which he gave land to a hospital for poor men.

By then, Archbishop Jon Raude had already built the hospital on the king’s commons, without waiting for royal consent. During this period there was also a reorganization of the hospital structure in Nidaros; The canons ‘(choir brothers’) hospital for sick pilgrims, which had been built about a hundred years earlier, and which was located just north of the cathedral, was dissolved and «co-located» with the newly built hospital at the dikes.

The hospital was a nursing home for the disabled – and an isolation center for lepers. There was no hospital, in the sense of the day. For medieval people, the hospital was a place of mercy where the sick and poor were cared for. At the hospital, the people were surrounded by the services of daily life and the prayers of the priest. Regular meals were guaranteed, and one liter of home-brewed beer a day. The hospital’s estates were the most important source of income. In addition came testamentary gifts, alms and certain privileges.

In the periods after the reformation, was difficult for the Hospital. The county accounts for 1958/59 show that the institution this year was pardoned with a batch of dry cod – the fish was according to the papers «guaranteed useless for the soldiers», but the soup from the king’s food stores dulled the hunger of the old and sick. At the same time, the Hospital received the royal tithe of Orkdal and Meldal parishes. After the so-called «fundas» in 1612, the Hospital was to house 32 sick and disabled people. In 1643 the number of patients increased to 40, and in 1673 it was up to 60. This was a good time for the Hospital – not least thanks to the enterprising couple Bernt and Margrete Brunsmann, who also had their own parish in the country, sawmill in Trollabekken and ironworks in Mostad-marka. In the 18th century, the Hospital got its own psychiatric ward – and a courier chamber for patients with sclerosis. The buildings on Løkkan were renewed, and the Characteristic octagonal Hospital Church was built (1705). Now they also got a more systematic medical treatment Under the city’s city physicist – and medicine became an increasing item of expenditure in the hospital’s accounts. In earlier times, the only fixed medical expense was the annual purchase of 2 barrels of tar, which was used to lubricate patients’ wounds. The attic rooms at the Hospital were furnished in 1798 for poor homesteaders, who received free firewood and housing (10 rooms / 69 beds in 1799).

In the 1830s, a new mental hospital was built in Erling Skakkes gate (Tronka), and after the city fire in 1842, the Hospital erected the current main building in brick, as well as a new poorhouse (Trondheim retirement home). During the 19th century, the number of patients increased from 59 to 132. In 1864, all cure patients were transferred to other institutions. The hospital now became a retirement home, and eventually a model institution when it came to elderly care in Trøndelag. After 1945, the public sector came in as an important contributor to the hospital’s operation. The hospital is run as a foundation – founded on over 700 years of tradition with care for the elderly and those in need of care.

Photo: Byantikvaren