Fish, Fjords, Fire some words to describe Fantastic Bergen. Lots of seafoods, waterways between mountains, and watching out for causes of fire due to the various wooden structures.
History of Bergen
Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre. The town was favorably situated in relation to shipping traffic and was for a long time the country’s most important commercial, shipping and industrial town. Moreover, Bergen became a commercial and shipping town of European significance and for a while, during the Middle Ages, Bergen was also the largest of all the towns in the Nordic countries. Bergen is the only town in the whole of Scandinavia which has followed a classical European pattern of development. In the twelfth century the economic boom broke through in Lubeck, which was the first town on the Baltic to become a center for international commerce. After a while, the town also influenced circumstances in Bergen which now became the natural geographical and economic center for the maritime empire known as the Might of Norway. Trading from the north with import of grain and export of fish laid the foundation for growth during the first centuries.
From the fourteenth century and onwards for several centuries, the Hanseatic merchants dominated trade. The Hanseatic merchants established one of their four most important trading stations in Bergen, the German Office on the Wharf. In the period from the last half of the nineteenth century until the First World War, there was strong growth in trade and industry resulting in an increase in population; from 17,000 inhabitants in 1855 to 103,500 inhabitants in 1920 (Bergen Town). It was not until the beginning of the 1830s that the population of Oslo exceeded Bergen in number.
The town has fallen prey to conflagrations throughout its entire history. Buildings of the Church and State were usually constructed in stone and could therefore be repaired after damage by fire. The homes of the citizens of the town, on the other hand, were timber constructions and therefore had to be built up again from the foundations. The Hanseatic merchants were those most observant of tradition in relation to architecture. When the Wharf was rebuilt after the great town fire of 1702 for example, only a few small changes were made.
In the late Middle ages the Hanseatic League established the German Kontor in Bryggen (the waterfront), which became a thriving center of international trade. The characteristic parallel rows of buildings, with their seaward-facing gables represent a building tradition dating back almost 900 years. The old wooden buildings along the harbor front in Bergen were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
There were tons of Fish and other seafoods at the market and our guide who met at the Tourist Bureau right on this fish market, emphasized that Norway is the world’s fourth largest exporter of seafood.
If you are coming to Bergen, you have to learn at least two Norwegian words. These words are Bryggen and Vaagen. Bryggen is the name of the world famous waterfront in Bergen. If you ask someone for the waterfront, you’ll probably get a diffuse answer. If you ask for Bryggen, you’ll get a smile and the direction Vaagen is the local name for the harbor (port).
The Fish Market is considered the center of Bergen. Bergen center area covers parts of Sandviken (Ladegaarden) in north, Nygaardshoyden in west, Nygaardstangen in south and Mount Floyen in east. At Nygaardshoyden you’ll find the University of Bergen. At the Nygaardstangen area you’ll find Norwegian State Railways, including one of the cargo terminals in Bergen.
Our guide led us to see the various wooden buildings from centuries back, marveled at the clusters of cozy, wooden houses so characteristic of Bergen.
Over the years, Bergen’s wooden buildings have been ravaged by numerous fires. As you walk around town our guide pointed out whole blocks of the original city that were destroyed by fires, replaced with buildings of different architectural periods.
A highlight of our tour in this lovely city is going up the Funicular to the top with a breathtaking view of Bergen.
The Fløibanen funicular in Bergen is one of Norway’s best-known attractions. Fløibanen can be found in the heart of Bergen, 150 m from Fisketorget – the fish market – and Bryggen wharf, and it takes just 10 minutes to walk to the lower station from where the cruise ships dock along Bryggen.
The journey up to Fløyen (320 m above sea level) takes 5–8 minutes. The journey is an experience in itself, and at the top you can enjoy fantastic views over Bergen. At the top, in addition to a spectacular view of Bergen and its surrounding fjords, there is a restaurant and a series of paths through the forest.
At the end of the tour we all tried to find a specialty of the place, a pastry called Skillingsbolle.
Literally, it is a bun which could be bought for one skilling (coin) in the old days. It is a bun with cinnamon and sugar on the top. In polls, it’s popular to ask where to buy the best Skillingsbolle. Unfortunately, when we got to the bakeshop it was sold out and we had to wait another hour for next batch but did not have the time. We however tasted one during one of our breakfast buffets but it was not baked in that original bakery.