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About Bergen

As one of the offices of the Hanseatic League, Bergen was for several hundred years the centre of prosperous trade between Norway and the rest of Europe. The main strengths to life in Bergen today are a wide variety of cultural activities, the surrounding sea, international connections and academic activities.


The city of Bergen, traditionally thought to have been founded by king Olav Kyrre, son of Harald Hardrade in 1070 AD, four years after the Viking Age ended. Modern research has, however, discovered that a trading settlement was established already during the 1020s or 1030s.It is considered to have replaced Trondheim as Norway's capital in 1217, and that Oslo became the de jure capital in 1299.Towards the end of the 13th century, Bergen became one of the Hanseatic League's most important bureau cities.

The main reason for Bergen's importance was the trade with dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around 1100. By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the centre of the trade in Norway. The Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, where Middle Saxon was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen that each summer sailed to Bergen. Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggen is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

Key Facts about Bergen

The city is like a spectacular amphitheatre clambering up the mountain sides, overlooking the sea, embracing you. You can roam through living history in this modern city, the gateway to the wildest and loveliest fjords of Norway. Tradition, initiative and drive have made Bergen one of Norway's most vigorous cultural cities. It is not merely by chance that Norway's biggest cultural event, the Bergen International Festival, is held here each year, or that the town was chosen to be one of the European Cities of Culture in the year 2000.
Other music festivals which are arranged in Bergen every year:

  • Night Jazz, the longest jazz festival in Northern Europe. It takes place at the same time as the Bergen International Festival. In the festival period concerts are held, both in the festival area and at other venues in the city. Traditional jazz is presented along with world music.
  • Bergenfest is arranged at the end of April/beginning of May each year. The festival focuses on folk music and authentic American blues in particular, as well as R&B, funk, gospel, rock, country and Cajun.
  • Bergen International Film festival
  • Bergen Art Festival (BergArt)
  • Bergen Food Festival

Attractions in Bergen

  • The fjords
  • Ole Bull's summer residence
  • The Coastal Museum in Øygarden
  • Glesvær Trading Station
  • Langøy Coastal Culture Centre
  • The Museum of the Norwegian Knitting Industry

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