The medieval cathedral of Trondheim, Norway, of a size and complexity rare in this northern outskirt of Europe, is remarkable for its history of decay and reconstruction, resulting in a living textbook that makes visible the changing theories of restoration and conservation during the last one hundred fifty years. It is Norway's most important historic monument and embodies a variety of symbolic meanings for the nation. Yet today, few among the public realize that a large part of the cathedral's fabric is a modern reconstruction. For nineteenth-century nation builders, the cathedral was construed as the national sanctuary, representing the national history—from strength and prosperity through decay to new reconstruction. From being conceived of as a reconstruction based on analogies where evidence was lacking, it was continued as an "honest" creative architectural design in harmony with the historical remains, and today can be valued as a monument to the history of restoration.