Bergen, historic city on the Atlantic coast of Norway

As Norway’s second largest city, and ideally located on the Atlantic coast, Bergen is sometimes referred to as Norway’s Atlantic capital.  Bergen may be the second city today, but there was a time during the Late Middle Ages when Bergen was a trading power house, and a member of the Hanseatic League, which dominated trade on Northern Europe.

Today, some of the relics of Bergen’s great period are still standing, particularly the colourful wooden buildings which are located along the Bryggen, which is Norwegian for wharf.

Bryggen has been the nerve centre of the city for hundreds of years and the silhouette of its ancient gables is perhaps the most familiar image in all of Norway.  In 1360 the Hansas, a German guild of merchants, set up one of their import/export offices on Bryggen and dominated trade for the next 400 years.

Many times Bryggen has been devastated by fire, and the Great Fire of 1702 reduced the whole city to ashes. But Bryggen was quickly re-built on top of foundations that had been here since the 11th century. Bryggen is now on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the city of Bergen is a designated World Heritage City.

The meander through Bryggen’s narrow alleyways made even darker and more mysterious by overhanging balconies, is a step back into a time that is hardly touched by the passage of centuries. Although 61 of Bryggen’s buildings are preserved and protected they are not a museum. Bryggen’s spectacular wooden architecture shelter a living community of shops and offices; artists’ studios, crafts-people’s workshops, and restaurants.

Bryggens Museum, in a beautiful modern building, houses the extensive medieval finds excavated nearby, and the Hanseatic Museum is in one of the old Hansa buildings and illustrates the life of a 18th century merchant.

Close to Bryggen is the terminal for the funicular railway called Floibanen.    

Fløibanen is a funicular cable car that takes you 320 metres above sea level. In just a few minutes you find yourself on top of a mountain with a perfect view of the city and its surroundings.

The funicular railway is one of Norway’s most famous attractions and the only one of its kind in Scandinavia. The trip starts from the city centre, just 150 metres from the Fish Market and Bryggen. The exiting trip up to the mountain is a magnificent experience in itself. From Mount Fløyen, approx. 320 metres above sea level, you can enjoy the beautiful view and study the cityscape in detail.  From here you can also observe the seaward approaches and fjords surrounding Bergen. The Funicular takes you to a fantastic area of beautiful natural surroundings with innumerable opportunities for walking and hiking.  At Fløyen there is also a restaurant, cafeteria, souvenir shop and play area. The Fløibanen funicular runs daily from early morning until 12 midnight in the summer season, and until 11 p.m. during the rest of the year.

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