Situated along the Byfjord, Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and gateway to the fjords. It is a delightful old Hanseatic trading town, now known as the "Rhododendron City", centred around a bustling harbour with a thriving fishing industry and surrounded by forested peaks. Smaller ships will use a pier close to the city centre but larger vessels may dock about 20 minutes walk from the centre - shuttle buses are normally provided. The harbour area is the town's city centre and can be explored on foot. The old waterfront is lined with brightly coloured buildings and warehouses - now housing boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Here you will also find the Fish Market at Torget displaying today's catch.
The history of the city dates back to the early eleventh century when Olav Kyrre established a settlement and royal residence here. In 1240, Bergen replaced Trondheim as the capital of Norway, and the city quickly prospered under the guidance of the Hanseatic League. These German merchants soon controlled all trade in Norway and remained in the city for many centuries until 1764.
Much of the city's architecture today reflects the lifestyle of the Hanseatic merchants, who resided in narrow row houses near the harbour. Bryggen is a collection of timbered Hanseatic houses from the 14th to 16th century, now restored and designated by UNESCO as a Heritage Site. The Hanseatisk Museum re-creates the living quarters of a merchant and his imported staff. Visit King Haakon's Hall - built in the 13th Century, the Rosenkranz Tower, and the Mariakirken built in the 12 century. The Theta Museum honours the local Nazi resitance group from WW2.
You can also enjoy some shopping or travel up the Floibanen funicular railway for the views over the city and surrounding area. Outside the city you can visit the Fantoft Stave Church (originally built circa 1050) and also Troldhaugen beside Norgas Lake - the home of Edvard Grieg and now a museum and park. On the Nordnes Peninsula is the Old Bergen Museum, an open air collection of 18th and 19th century houses.
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