Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


The Tiger City

Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway. It is one of northern Europe's most important cities for shipping and sea trade. It is the main center for banking, industry, and political life in Norway. It regularly ranks as one of the top ten cities in the world in terms of the quality of life of its residents.

From 1870, Oslo became "the Tiger City", when a famous Norwegian poet used that name in a poem. He did so because the big city Oslo was considered a "cold and dangerous place" (as opposed to the safe countryside).

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The origin of the name Oslo is unclear. The most popular explanation for the name is that it is derived from the Norwegian words as and lo, meaning “the meadow beneath the ridge”. This name refers to the flat land beneath the mountains of the Ekeberg region, which lie to the southeast of the town.

Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises, Oslo

A Brief History of Oslo

  • The history of Oslo is usually dated back to the year 1049 in Norwegian history books. This is when the town was founded according to a set of historical books called the Norse Sagas.

    According to these accounts, the town was first built by Harald Hardrada the King of Norway between 1046 and 1066. However there is evidence that people were already living in the region before 1000 CE.
  • Oslo’s importance grew greatly in the late 13th century. It was chosen as the capital city of Norway by King Haakon V.

    He was the first king to live permanently in the city. It was during his rule that many of Oslo’s most famous buildings were first constructed.

    These included the Akershus Fortress and the Kongsgard. The city was a key location for the Hanseatic League which traded across northern Europe.
  • By the late 14th century, Norway was part of a union with the nearby Kingdom of Denmark. The monarch of both countries chose to live in Copenhagen rather than Oslo. This meant that Oslo was reduced to a less important role in the region.
  • Oslo was damaged by fire numerous times during the late medieval and early modern period. In 1624, King Christian IV of Denmark decided that the city center should be rebuilt at a new site across the bay from its old location.

    It was hoped that this would help stop it from catching fire so often. This new part of the city was named Christiania. The city as a whole would come to be known by this name.
  • The city grew wealthier after the end of the Great Northern War in 1721. It was one of the biggest centers for shipbuilding in the region. Its status improved again in 1814 when it became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Norway once again.

    The new Norwegian government built many of the city's most important modern buildings during this time, including the Bank of Norway, the new Royal Palace, and the Storting or parliament building. The city's population increased from around 10,000 in 1814 to 230,000 by 1900.
  • The city's name officially reverted back to Oslo in 1925. The city was occupied by the Germans between 1940 and 1945 during the Second World War. In 1952 the city was chosen to host the Winter Olympic Games. The city celebrated its thousand-year history with a series of special events in the year 2000.

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace was built between 1824 and 1849 to act as the home of the Norwegian monarchy. The palace was designed to celebrate the independence of Norway and the end of the union with Denmark after 1814. The palace was extensively improved and renovated during the second half of the 20th century.

It is now one of Oslo's most popular visitor attractions. Guided tours of those parts of the palace not used by the royal family are available for those interested in seeing the palace's beautiful paintings, furniture, and decorations.

Every year the Palace is the main location for celebrations of Norway's Constitution Day. There is a children's parade past the palace balcony where the royal family waves to the crowds.

Viking Ship Museum

The amazing museum is the best place in Oslo to learn about the history of the Vikings. This fierce group of warriors originated in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) and ruled large parts of Northern Europe during the Middle Ages.

The museum is home to the Oseberg ship. This ship was built in the 9th century CE and was buried in the ground for over 1000 years before being discovered by the archeologist Haakon Shetelig.

It was a Viking tradition to bury their most important leaders with ships to help them in their travels in the next life. The Viking Ship Museum is just one part of the larger Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo.

Akershus Fortress

This impressive castle was first built in medieval times to act as a royal palace. It became the most important royal palace during the reign of King Haakon V in the late 1290s.

Although the fortress was attacked many times during its long history, it was never successfully besieged. During its long history the fortress has been used as a military base, a prison, and as government offices.

Nowadays, it is a major tourist attraction. The castle is now home to the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and a museum dedicated to the Norwegian Resistance who fought against German rule during the Second World War. The fortress is also the final resting place for many Norwegian kings and queens.

Frogner Park

This public park is one of Oslo's most well-known and widely-used green spaces. The park is most famous for being home to the Vigeland installation. This is a group of sculptures created by the Norwegian artists Gustav Vigeland between 1924 and 1943.

This collection of 212 bronze and granite sculptures is among Oslo's most beloved sights. The park is also the location of the Frogner Manor houses, which were owned by Norway's richest man, Bernt Anker, in the late 18th century.

These days the park is most popular with Oslo's sports community. It is home to tennis courts, a large swimming pool, and an athletics stadium.

An Authentic Oslo Dish

Norwegians eat a lot of fish and seafood is an important part of Oslo's cuisine. One typical Oslo dish is Rakfisk. This dish is made using a fish called trout. Traditionally, the fish is covered in salt and then buried underground for two or three months. It is then eaten without being cooked. Rakfisk is usually served on flat bread with onions, sour cream, and mustard.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "maritime" mean?
    1. related to the land
    2. related to the air
    3. related to the sea

  2. What does "regularly" mean?
    1. often or at a set time
    2. never or very infrequently
    3. at lunch time

  3. What does "reverted" mean?
    1. climbed upwards
    2. changed back to the original
    3. snapped or broken in half

  4. What does "besieged" mean?
    1. surrounded and attacked by an army
    2. fired out of a cannon
    3. kept locked in a tower

  5. What does "meadow" mean?
    1. a forest at the top of a hill
    2. a yard for building ships
    3. a flat piece of grassland

Collocation Questions

  1. The Norse Sagas ___________ that Oslo was first founded by King Harald Hardrada.
    1. bid
    2. claim
    3. right

  2. King Haakon V ___________ to make Oslo his capital city in the late 13th century. 
    1. decided
    2. ascertained
    3. thought

  3. After the ___________ of the Norwegian and Danish crowns, Oslo became somewhat less important. 
    1. mixing
    2. marriage
    3. union

  4. For most of the 17th, 18th, and 19th ___________ the city was known as Christiania.

    1. ages
    2. hundreds
    3. centuries

  1. The city ___________ the Winter Olympic Games in 1952.
    1. hosted
    2. accommodated
    3. lodged

  1. The Royal Palace plays a ___________ role during the celebrations of Norway's Constitution Day every year.
    1. singular
    2. special
    3. exceptional

  1. The Vikings often ___________ their most important leaders in ships.
    1. buried
    2. dug
    3. covered

  2. The Akershus Fortress was used to keep some of Norway's most famous prisoners ___________.
    1. caged
    2. B. captive
    3. C. locked

  3. Gustav Vigeland was ___________ for the design of the 212 sculptures in Frogner Park.

    1. obliged
    2. guilty
    3. responsible

  4. Rakfisk is most ___________ eaten with bread, onions, sour cream, and mustard.
    1. universally
    2. commonly
    3. regulation

Wh Questions

  1. What was Oslo called between 1624 and 1925?
    1. Stockholm
    2. Christiania
    3. Christianshavn

  2. Why did King Christian IV of Denmark decide to relocate the city center in 1624?
    1. to try and stop its buildings from catching fire
    2. so that his new castle would be facing the sea
    3. in order to demonstrate his power over his new Norwegian subjects

  3. Where is the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum located?
    1. Frogner Park
    2. Royal Palace
    3. Akershus Fortress

  4. How is Rakfisk traditionally prepared?
    1. It is kept in sea water for a week
    2. It is buried underground for two to three months
    3. It is set on fire and thrown into a tree for three days

  1. When was the Oseberg Viking ship built?
    1. in the 9th century CE
    2. in the 9th century BCE
    3. in the 19th century CE

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Bernt Anker was Norway's richest man in the late 18th century.
    2. Haakon Shetelig was Norway's richest man in the late 18th century.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. The Viking Ship Museum is part of the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo.
    2. The Viking Ship Museum is part of the Museum of Economic History of the University of Oslo.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The Royal Palace is not open to the public as it is the Norwegian royal family's personal residence."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The Norwegian parliament building is also known as the Storting."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. C | 2. A | 3. B | 4. A | 5. C | 6. B | 7. A | 8. C | 9. C | 10. A | 11. B | 12. A | 13. B | 14. C | 15. B | 16. B | 17. A | 18. C | 19. B | 20. A | 21. A | 22.B | 23. B | 24. A

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