Surrounded by seven mountains Bergen is recognised as the unofficial capital of south-western Norway and the countries second largest city after the capital Oslo. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county and was one of the nine European cities given the award European Capital of Culture for the millennium.

Traditionally it was thought that Bergen was founded in 1070AD by king Olav Kyrre son of Harald Hardråde who’s death at the battle of Stamford Bridge (North Yorkshire, England) fighting against Harold Godwinson in 1066AD is seen as the end of the Viking Age. Modern research though has revealed that a trading settlement was already established in the 1020’s. In 1277 Bergen replaced Trondheim as Norway’s capital until Oslo took over as capital in 1299.

It was toward the end of the 13th century that Bergen began establishing itself as a major trade centre especially in dried cod when it became one of the Hanseatic Leagues most important bureau cities. The Henseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter where their own laws were enforced rather than the local Bergen laws. Many of the old buildings from this Hanseatic quarter can still be seen and make up the old quayside called Bryggen and is on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

Bergen, Norway

Over the years Bergen has had its fair share of ups and downs, it has been plagued by many city fires the greatest of these was in 1702 when 90% of the city was destroyed. In 1349 the Black Death was brought to Bergen on board an English ship. During the 15th century the city was attacked by the Vitalian Brotherhood, a companionship of privateers originally hired to fight against the Danish who later turned to piracy.

Bergen is a beautiful city and a place I can highly recommend visiting. Along with the city itself there is plenty to see and visit, a funicular railway can be taken to the top of mount Fløyen, and a cable car journey will get you up Ulriken where there is a fine restaurant and amazing views. Bergen is also the gateway to the Norwegian fjords.


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