If you arrive in Norway’s capital by train, one of the first things you see when exiting Oslo Central Station is a huge bronze statue of a tiger. Larger than a real tiger and dominating the square at Jernbanetorget, the monument was made by Norwegian artist and sculptor Elena Engelsen and was gifted to the city in 2000 to celebrate its millennium.
Why a tiger in a Scandinavian city? Well, Oslo’s nickname is Tigerstaden (the Tiger City) and the statue was designed with that in mind. The name is believed to have been coined by Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in the 19th century, based on characters in one of his poems. Some suggest other origins but this one is the nicest. Anyway, the nickname has stuck and the statue pays tribute to it.
While many statues come with a hands-off warning, this 4.5-metre tiger is a no-holds-barred model and no one minds if you hug it, take selfies with it or let your children climb onto it.
Sculptor Elena Engelsen lives and works in Oslo, specialising in animal subjects. As well as bronze she works in marble, limestone and petrified clay.