Before arriving in Bergen (Norway) for the first time, I knew that the colorful wooden houses of Bryggen are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. They are among the most photographed sights in the world, and it’s not hard to believe. What I did not know is that the old name of the city, Björgvin, meant something like “the green grass in the mountains”. According to legend, the poetic name was coined by the then King Olav Kyrre, who in 1070 founded the city on the border between fjord and mountain. 200 years later, another king ordered the construction of Håkonshallen, the royal palace of the city that at the time, served as the country’s capital and the Hanseatic League benchmark.
Now Bergen covers an area of just under 500 square kilometers: too many for a single day. However, a few hours still allow you to get an idea of the rainiest cities in all of Europe.
1- The Bryggen area
Just arrived in Bergen I saw the Bryggen : you will reach the heart of the Hanseatic quarter of the city walking along narrow streets, on the wooden sidewalks, among the tall buildings that once were used as warehouses. The crunching underfoot, the sound of rain on the roofs and the smell of damp wood report directly in the past, among artisan shops and small restaurants hidden at the bottom of narrow alleys.
From here continue along the pier towards Håkonshallen, the fortress that was once the residence of the Norwegian real. It is here that we find the Rosenkrantztarnet, the tower where King Eirik Magnusson lived until his death, and that between 1400 and 1800 served as a prison. Now you can climb to the top and observe the city from above, before starting on the short stretch of road leading to Fisketorget , on the port square. From the twelfth century, the fish market is the fishermen’s benchmark, merchants and restaurateurs. A key step to try Fiskeboller, the breaded cod patties and fried.
2- Mount Fløyen
Not far from the fish market is the station Fløibanen, the funicular Bergen. It is one of the most famous attractions of the city after the Bryggen and, although during the summer months there is always queuing for tickets, the destination is worth the wait. The small rack railway goes up fast: in less than ten minutes, leads to Mount Fløyen. From here, the city seems smaller than it is, with the fjord that creeps inland and the seven mountains surrounding Bergen.
If the weather is particularly cold and rainy, it can repair the small room of the terminal, with a cup of hot coffee and a kanelboller, a sweet cinnamon. Another option, for those who have more time available, is the Folkerestaurant, to sample Bergens fiskesuppe, Bergen fish soup.
At this point you can go back to town with the funicular railway, or walk the three kilometers of trails and paths through the woods and up the hill.
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3- The walk from the theater to Festplassen
Another way to discover Bergen starts from Nationale Scene, the permanent theater oldest of the country. Its roots date back to 1850, when the violinist Ole Bull promoted its creation. Since Ibsen staged The Pillars of Society, the theater has undergone several changes and modernization, especially after the destruction of a wing of the building during the Second World War.
From the square of the theater continues to Torgallmenningen, the central street of the city. The road, which stretches from Olav V Plass up to Strandgaten, is considered the city’s meeting point, especially in the less cold months, from May until the autumn. Many hotels that overlook the street wide and a bit ‘austere, which also houses shops, shopping centers and cafes. From here we continue past the headquarters of the newspaper Bergens Tidende reaching Festplassen, the square where the festivities are held every year on 17 May, a national holiday.
4- The Marken Quarter
Leaving the train station behind, continuing east towards the port, you arrive in the neighborhood Marken : paved streets that intersect unevenly, climbs and descents, low houses of wood painted in pastel colors, small shops and cafes independent. Pass by the Pinsekirken, the Pentecostal church in wood painted white, with pointed roof; continue towards the Galleri Bokboden, an exhibition space run by students of the Academy of Fine Arts.
It is the ideal place for a walk or to rest in one of the small cafes, watching the inhabitants of the city beyond the windows.
5- The House of Edvard Grieg
About ten kilometers away from Bergen Troldhaugen, the museum housed in the home of composer Edvard Grieg. You can be reached by taxi, or with the line Light Rail and the center door stop Hop: hence a twenty-minute walk allows to reach the villa built in 1884 on the lake Nordaas.
The Norwegian pianist and composer he was lucky enough to get a reputation at national and European level when he was still alive. When he was not traveling between Paris, London, Berlin and Prague, Grieg spent most of the time, especially in summer, the villa on the outskirts of Bergen.
Today Troldhaugen is a museum that includes the house where lived the composer and his wife, the shed where he took refuge to compose, the concert hall Troldsalen and the tomb where the ashes of Grieg and his wife are preserved. The museum houses a permanent exhibition and a café; in summer and autumn you can attend the concerts organized in Troldsalen.