Welcome to Bergen, the city of the seven mountains!
Bergen is a beautiful and colourful city located on the west coast of Norway. It is the second largest city of the country, after Oslo, the capital city. Bergen has taken good care of its historical heritage, and a stroll along Bryggen (the Hanseatic quay) gives a close and vivid impression of this versatile medieval town. With 275 days of rain per year, Bergen has a unique atmosphere situated between seven mountains on the North Sea coast. The people living here are immensely proud of their city, and sing their own Bergensian anthem with just as much respect as the national one.The beautiful fjords and mountains can easily be reached on a day trip and you can find beautiful spots like the Rosendal Barony on your route.
Bergen and the Fjords
Bergen is the ideal place to start a trip to the stunning fjords of the western coast of Norway, in particular to the fjords of “Hardangerford” (the 3rd biggest fjord in the world) and “Sognefjord” (the largest fjord in the whole of Norway).
The city of Bergen and the fjords are easily accessible by plane with multiple direct flights to the main European cities as well as by sea with ferry connections to the UK and Denmark. If you decide to visit Bergen, the fjords are not to be missed. The best way to visit the fjords is to rent a car if you like to travel at your own pace.
You will also find multiple museums located in Bergen such as the “Maritime Museum”, where you can discover the shipping history of the city and see a incredible collection of Viking ships. An alternative is the open air “Old Bergen Museum”, where you can go back in time by visiting a small town with houses constructed as far back as the 18th century. After spending a day in the fjords you can enjoy a nice meal in the city. There are plenty of excellent restaurants serving traditional Norwegian food, like Bryggeloftet and Finnegaards Stuene and offering fresh fish directly from the fjords.
History of Bergen
The history of Bergen starts with King Olav Kyrre, who founded Bergen in AD 1070. The city is considered to have replaced Trondheim as Norway’s capital in 1217 and in this period Bergen reached its peak under King Haakon Haakonsson, who was the ruler of a large and internationally respected kingdom that included Iceland, Greenland, Orkney Islands, Hebrides and the Isle of Man. Bergen was known as one of the main bureau cities of the Hansa or “Hanseatic League” by the end of the 13th century.
The main reason for Bergen’s importance was the trade of dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around the year 1100. By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the center of the trade industry in Norway. The Saxon Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of the town, where Middle Saxon (“Middle Low German”) had the privilege and preferential rights to make trading business with the Norwegian fishermen coming from the north that every summer sailed to Bergen. Nowadays, Bergen’s old quayside, Bryggen, is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
Bryggen in Bergen
One of the most popular sights in Bergen, or for that matter in Norway as a whole, is Bryggen (‘the dock’), which is an ancient wharf with an unique architecture. The harbour area is very lively, you can walk along this historical part of the city, known for being then most important harbour in the nordic region connecting Scandinavia with Europe and an international trading harbour for several hundred years.
The Hanseatic League that had monopoly on the trade on Bryggen for several centuries formed a unique environment on the east side of the Bergen’s waterfront. The Hanseatics were unmarried and had to live in celibacy untill moving back to Germany.
The World Heritage Site of Bryggen is all that remains of an ancient wharf on the east side of Bergen’s central harbour – Vågen.
The buildings at Bryggen were built in a way that they were arranged in tenements – long rows of houses and store rooms made of wood on one or both sides of a common passage. In this beautiful part of Bergen, a number of stone buildings can also be found at the back. These buildings can be traced back to the 15th-16th centuries. Nowadays, Bryggen is a living illustration of Bergen’s history, with 61 protected buildings covering about 13,000 square metres. Bryggen has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1979.
The history of Bryggen reflects on the history of Bergen city. This was the place where the trade and commerce took place for several hundred years that supported Bergen as one of the most important cities in northern Europe, and the most populous one in Scandinavia during mideavel times. Today you can walk through the many If you enter some of the alleyways between the storefronts you can get a feel of what Bergen must have been like in the middle ages.
Smau in Bryggen
Smau means in the local dialect “Bergensk” a small narrow passageway which is truly a Bergen experience and these narrow streets can be explored taking a peek into the many sidestreets in Bryggen.
Bergen’s cultural heritage
Bergen has a rich cultural history bringing up the composer Edvard Grieg and playwright Ludvid Holberg. Contemporary authors born in Bergen include the famous writer Gunnar Staalesen and the musician Sondre Lerche.
Read more about the history of Bryggen.