Bryggen in Bergen is an area by Vågen in the city centre. It consists of 61 listed wooden buildings on the site where Bergen was founded back in 1070 by Olav Kyrre.

Many of the buildings here once served as homes, offices and warehouses for the Hanseatic merchants from the Middle Ages right through to the 18th century. Throughout history, the area has burned down several times, but it has always been rebuilt according to the same pattern and more or less the same street level. Nevertheless, a large part was lost in the last major fire in 1955. The fire led to excavations of the area, which in turn led to the establishment of Bryggens museum, where you can learn all about life in medieval Bergen. The excavations and discoveries made then fuelled the desire to take better care of Bryggen's unique urban environment. The area was thus protected, and in 1979 it was given status as part of the world heritage by UNESCO.

Bryggen in Bergen - one of the highlights of 10 Best Things to Do in Bergen and 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Bergen (Read all about Bergen here)

Highlights of Bryggen

The row of sloping houses along Vågen has become a highly recognisable symbol for Bergen. Bryggen's location by the quay makes it the first stop for visitors arriving by cruise ship, and its outdoor seating area and picturesque appearance draw people from the rest of the city, which means it tends to be bustling with life. The brightly coloured facades and irregular lines have their own charm, but it's the inner courtyards and alleyways with their sloping wooden floors that really give you a sense of going back in time. You can almost see the busy traders from long ago, working in the corridors and moving goods up the differente floors.

Bryggen's museum is located at the north end of this area. The museum collection includes many interesting objects, which were found in the ground under Bryggen, and the exhibition also includes models and other visual representations that provide a good insight into what life and society were like here. It's worth visiting the museum first. Then you'll be well prepared for the walk between the buildings.

History of Bryggen

Bryggen covers the area where the very first buildings in Bergen stood. The old wooden houses that stand there today were built after the fire in 1702, in the same building style as previous buildings. From the Middle Ages until well into the 18th century, the entire district was completely dominated by foreign merchants and artisans. They were mainly of German origin: the so-called Hanseatics. The Hanseatics settled here in the 13th century and were particularly dominant after the Black Death in 1349, when Norwegian society underwent a deep crisis. During these centuries, the Hanseatics lived in their own small colony on the fringes of Norwegian society, with their own laws and power structure. The closure of the German office - the Hanseatic trade office in Bergen - in 1754 marked the end of the Hanseatics, although German influence persisted. The trade largely consisted of importing grain and salt from abroad in exchange for dryfish from northern Norway.

Worth knowing about Bryggen in Bergen

The premises in Bryggen's façade row are now filled with tourist and souvenir shops, where many a visitor has bought a patterned jumper or a reindeer skin. The bars and restaurants have vast outdoor seating areas where the sun shines until late at night in summer. If there's something special going on in the area, such as a food festival at Bergenhus Fortress or a steamboat festival in the harbour, these tables quickly fill up.

The inner rooms are widely used as studios for artists and craftsmen, while on the ground floor you'll find several interesting shops selling handmade jewellery and art. There are also restaurants here, including some of Bergen's most traditional and best restaurants. In the innermost part of the courtyards, the narrow passages open up to larger spaces where you'll find the occasional free table to sit down at and enjoy refreshments in a setting that's hard to beat.

Bryggen in Bergen

Location: Bryggen, 5003 Bergen, Norway

Phone: +47 55 55 20 00