Facts about Bergen - Norways second largest city
World heritage city
Bergen grew up around its colourful harbour - it was the hub of commerce, seafaring and crafts-manship. We became the north's largest city, Norway's first capital city and the seat of royalty. So important was Bergen by the 13th century that the Hansas - the German medieval guild of merchants - opened one of their four European offices on the wharf called Bryggen. Some of the Hansas chose to become Bergensers. And so have many others throughout the centuries. But Bryggen stays the same, its contour just as it was in the 11th century, untouched by shifting times. It has become a symbol of our cultural heritage and has gained a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Bergen has become a World Heritage City.
A party in itself
From fish cakes to festivals, and spring bursts into action are always on their way to, or from, a party 'shilling buns' for Norway's largest cultural event - the annual Bergen International Festival. Out of all of Norway, it had to be here because Bergen has such a festive atmosphere. Edvard Grieg's birthplace has all the right ingredients of intimacy, charm and enthusiasm. Even so, weather experts were consulted for the best time of the year. Bergensers have a thing about the weather. But they don't let things stop just because of a drop of rain! The show must go on. And there are many shows, many annual festivals - from Blues to Ballet, from Raves to Rachmaninov.
We Bergensers grasp any excuse for a festival. Nothing is too trivial. We make a celebration out of anything - street entertainment, theatre, all around the city, in shops, in parks - even over statues. And if there is no particular anniversary, something else will be found to celebrate!
The big city with the smalltown charm
Clusters of old houses cling together in among the new quarters. Bergensers take a keen interest in protecting their grass-root traditions and building styles, and Bergen architecture is distinctive yet diverse. Though Bergen has suffered many fires over the centuries, it still has one of Europe's largest conglomerates of wooden houses. Not to say the largest.
Everything is not how Bergensers would like it. But a lot is like it was. It is this blend of past and present which creates a special ambience. We Bergensers polish and paint as best we can, just as much to please ourselves as to please you. We enjoy Bergen as inhabitants, we hope you enjoy Bergen as visitors.