A tiger strolling in the city square? Yup, that was unexpected! I am talking about the bronze life-size statue of a tiger that has its home in front of Oslo Sentralstasjon, the central station.
The Visit Oslo website tells us that this is the most photographed citizen of Oslo. I quote the website here: ¨When Oslo celebrated 1000-year anniversary in 2000, Eiendomsspar (a leading Norwegian real estate firm) wanted to give the city a gift. Oslo wanted a tiger, and that’s what they got: a 4.5 meter long bronze tiger. The statue, made by Elena Engelsen (a Norwegian sculptor specializing in exotic animals), is one of the first things that meets a tourist arriving at Oslo Central Station.
Why a Tiger? The reason Oslo wanted a tiger, is the city’s nickname Tigerstaden (“the tiger city”), which most Norwegians are familiar with. The name was probably first used by Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. His poem “Sidste Sang” from 1870 describes a fight between a horse and a tiger; the tiger representing the dangerous city and the horse the safe countryside.
Since then, Oslo has been known as the Tiger City, but these days it is not necessarily meant as a negative thing. The Tiger City can be an exciting and happening place rather than dangerous.¨