The name Trondheim derives from the old Norse Þróndheimr, meaning home of the strong and fertile ones. The city was founded by Viking King Olav Tryggvason in AD 997, and occupies a special place in Norwegian culture and history. Trondheim was the nation's first capital, and continues to be the coronation city where Norway's kings from Harald Hårfagre (872–933) to King Harald V (1991 -) have been hailed, crowned and blessed.
In its history the city was and is now again a popular destination for pilgrimages. Trondheim is also an ecclesiastical centre, a regional capital, a centre for industry and commerce, and an important education and research centre. After a catastrophic fire in 1681 destroyed most of the houses in the city, Major Jean Caspar de Cicignon was brought to Trondheim (from Luxembourg) to design a new city plan in the Baroque style. The streets were made wide to prevent fires from spreading. Some of the narrow alleys and narrow streets, many originating in the Middle Ages, nevertheless still exist, contrasting with Cicignon's wide boulevards from the 1600s. Even today Trondheim is spoken of as one of the typical wooden cities of Europe, and the city centre has many special wooden buildings, some built as far back as the 1700s.