Bergen is second to none in its thriving cultural scene, showcasing visual art, classical music, theatre, street festivals and experimental works. It is also steeped in history as an important port town. Read more...
Bergen, Norway's second largest city, has a rich history as a trade port and is the gateway to Norway's glittering fjordland. Home to some of Norway's leading museums, art galleries and cultural events, Bergen is well worth a look-in on a tour of Norway.
Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre as Bjørgvin, loosely translating as 'green meadow among mountains'. Since the early 18th century, the city has been known by the moniker as the City of Seven Mountains. Dubbed such by playwright Ludvig Holberg, there has been debate over the years as to exactly which seven mountains this name refers to, nevertheless the name has stuck. Made up of eight boroughs, the city centre is connected to its suburbs by four bridges spanning across the deep turquoise fjords. With a mild yet somewhat changeable winter climate, Bergen is best visited in the warmer months to make the most of the hiking and activities in the nearby mountains.
Over 900 years old, Bergen was a key strategic port in the Hanseatic league, a transnational trade group, from the 14th to the 17th centuries and remains Norway's busiest port. Bryggen is the UNESCO World Heritage listed remnants of the medieval port where the trade guilds were housed. Affected by a number of fires over the last few centuries, the site has now been restored and reconstructed and is home to many restaurants, interesting shops and the Hanseatic Museum.
Other notable sites in Bergen include the Cathedral, which was the site of the first Norwegian coronation in 1150 and the Bergenhus fortress that guards the entrance to the harbour and was built in 1240. Bergen is considered the Street Art Capital of Norway and is home to the world renowned 15 day Bergen International Festival at the end of May, showcasing 'art in all its guises'. Two notable composers originate from Bergen, Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull, Grieg's house having been converted into a museum exhibiting the strong culture of classical music and theatre in Bergen.
Bergen is also home to the unique Buekorps, traditional marching neighbourhood associations of boys. Every year on the Norwegian Constitutional Day (May 17th) boys aged 7 to 21 form the buekorps and march through the streets of Bergen, carrying imitation weapons and beating snare drums.
Bergen is the starting point of the Hurtigruten Classic Coastal Voyage up into the Arctic Circle in Kirkenes. It is also incorporated in some of our ready-made itineraries or we can tailor a holiday just for you, featuring the very best that Bergen has to offer!