Bergen was founded by king Olav Kyrre in AD 1070, and the city celebrated its 900th anniversary in 1970. Bergen replaced Trondheim as Norway's capital in 1217, whereupon Oslo became Norway's 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 (started around 1100 CE). By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the center of the trade in Norway. The Saxon Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, 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.
The interesting Hanseatic Museum, located close to the Fish Market, shows how the German merchants used to live and work. Today one can find many of the merchant families in Bergen bearing German family names.
Bergen is surrounded by 7 mountains, and mount Ulriken is the highest point with its 700 ms above sea level, offering stunning views of the city and surrounding fjords and islands. Mount Floyen is located close to the city centre and offers marvelous views of the city below, easily accessible by the Funicular departing from its station close to the Fish market. There are excellent hiking areas from the top station of the Funicular.
Today Bergen has approximately 250 000 inhabitants, with most of
the main attractions within walking distance, as the city centre
is quite small. The Fish market is located in the very heart of
the city, with the waterfront and the old Bryggen wharf. Bergen
has several quarters with tiny, old wooden houses - clinging to
the hillside and on the Nordnes peninsula. Taking a walk in
these areas is a "must" to the visitor of Bergen.
Bergen was also the home of the famous composer Edvard Grieg, and his home by the picturesque Nordaas lake is now a museum. Bergen was also the home of the violinist and composer Ole Bull - considered one of the greatest violin virtuosos of his time (1810-1880). His home "Lysoen" located on the picturesque island Lysoen outside Bergen is now a Museum and open during the summer season. There are beautiful walks on the island. Shuttle boat service.
The picturesque Fantoft Stave Church is located in a scenic forest area outside Bergen.