About Bergen

Facts about Bergen - Norways second largest city

National Language Norwegian
Population 252.000
Currency Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Timezone GMT +1
Telephone code: +47 / 0047
Temperature average in June 15°C
Shopping hours Mon-Fri : 0900-2000
Saturday : 0900-1600
Sunday : Closed
Airport Bergen Airport Flesland (BGO)

World heritage city
Ever since the intrepid King Olav Kyrre sailed into the harbour and founded the city in 1070, Bergen has attracted people from all quarters of the world. Some came and went, others decided to make Bergen their home. Bergensers travelled abroad and learned and so Bergen became a melting-pot of cultures and Norway's most international 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
It can be a party just to wander out and about in Bergen on a balmy summer evening. The streets throng with people milling in and out of cafés sampling food ranging from familiar fish dishes to fashionable tapas; people sipping a glass of beer on the wharfside, or wine in a wine cellar. During the day you can eat smoked salmon and fresh shrimps on the busy Fish Market, while a true Bergenser will be tucking into fish cakes and spicy 'shilling buns'!

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
Bergensers have an in-born love for their city and even newcomers quickly fall under its spell. Where does this sense of magic come from? Is it the atmosphere, the environment? Though there are high-rise buildings, the impression of Bergen is of a charming city full of small wooden houses. They scramble up the mountainsides and compete for space with wealthy mansions, flaunting themselves all the way into the city.

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.

A complete presentation of Bergen is found here.
City centre map © Bergens Tidende is found here.
For more information about Bergen visit: www.visitbergen.com