A Pedacito of Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway is a very special place to me and one I’m very excited to share with you. I’ve always struggled with the idea of where I come from. I remember as a child spending hours pouring over pictures of far-off places, trying to find where I belonged. Years later, my grandmother sat me down and told me where she comes from: Bergen, Norway.
Once I was introduced to my grandmother’s history, and the history of my ancestors, I was hooked. I dreamed of the day I would get to go. Thanks to my grandmother, I made my first trip to Norway in 2016 after graduating high school. The feeling was indescribable.
Not only was this my first time in another country, but I was also meeting a family I never thought I’d find. Since that first trip, I’ve returned to Norway three times and to Bergen twice. No matter how many times I go, it doesn’t change how breathtaking the view is.
Bergen is located on the western coast of Norway and sits in the middle of seven mountains, which gives it the name “the city of seven mountains.” The streets of Bergen are welcoming and quaint despite being the second-largest city in the country. It’s full of colorful buildings, neatly paved roads, and plenty of cute side streets to explore.
Bergen’s city center is a must-see; if you go there and don’t visit it, you’re doing something wrong. One of the most notable landmarks in the city is Bryggen, a series of colorful Hanseatic heritage buildings lining the Vågen harbor. It’s been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites since 1979. There are lots of small stores to go inside, such as the popular Christmas store filled with handmade ornaments and holiday trinkets. The stairs going up into the store are slanted, revealing just how old the buildings really are.
A quick tip! If you go further inside Bryggen, you will find more stores owned by local artists and craftsmen selling paintings, clothes, and even handcrafted silver jewelry. Or, you can head around the corner and walk through the harbor’s fish market for fresh, local produce, meats, and more!
If you follow the path down the harbor past Bryggen, you’ll come across a few historical sites: the Bergenhus Fortress, King Håkon's Hall, and Rosenkrantztårnet, the king’s tower. Inside each, you can explore what it was like in medieval Bergen. King Håkon's Hall is famous for the Banquet Hall, but you can also view many other rooms including the royal residence.
The Rosenkrantztårnet was my favorite of the three. The tower was partially under construction during my visit, but we were still able to enter and walk up to the top. The inside is made entirely of stone, narrow staircases, and a series of rooms with exhibits and relics. On one floor, you can even put on real medieval chain-mail and armor! There are also beautiful views of the city and harbor from the windows.
Bergen is home to centuries of history and has plenty of museums and landmarks from other eras. Just south of Bryggen is a tourist attraction called Sprøytegutten, an open space perfect for relaxation with a park overlooking the lake Lille Lungegårdsvannet. There are even live music performances on occasion at the Festplassen, a pavilion decorated with beautiful blooming flowers.
Museums line one side of the lake featuring various styles and eras of art. At the Bergen Kunsthall, you can view modern artworks from all over the world. Or, for a taste of Norwegian artists, head to the KODE 3 and KODE 4 museums. Those feature the famous works of Edvard Munch, known for his painting The Scream, Johan Dahl, Nikolai Astrup, and more. When I visited the museums, the Edvard Munch exhibit was, unfortunately, being renovated.
If you want the best view of the city, you have to go to Fløyen, one of the seven mountains overlooking Bergen. Just behind Bryggen is the Fløibanen, a cable car that will take up the mountain to the view of the city. You can also hike up the mountain, but I found the funicular was much faster.
Once at the top, there is a gift shop and a small restaurant. But the money is where the view of Bergen and the other mountains is. Below, the city looks like a collection of colored squares surrounded by endless mountain ranges. If you look just over the railing at the mountainside, there are goats that were purposefully placed there to control the growth of foliage and preserve the beautiful view.
Bergen is a great way to experience the culture and expansive history of Norway without the crowds often found in Oslo. The city is also in a great location where you can easily access hiking trails, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. Happy travels!
Norway is full of beautiful natural wonders and historic cities. Read our other articles to learn more about this amazing country!
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