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Bergen ( ) is the second largest city in Norwaymarker, with a population of 255,490 as of October 1st 2009. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordalandmarker county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of 396,314 as of July 2009.

Bergen is located in the county of Hordaland on the south-western coast of Norway. It is an important cultural hub in its region and was one of nine European cities honoured with the title of European Capital of Culture in 2000.


The city of Bergen, traditionally thought to have been founded by king Olav Kyrre, son of Harald Hardråde, in 1070 AD, celebrated its 900th anniversary in 1970. Modern research has however discovered that a trading settlement was established already during the 1020s or 1030s. It is considered to have replaced Trondheimmarker 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 Saxon Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, where Middle Saxon (“Middle Low German”) was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen that each summer sailed to Bergen. Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggenmarker is on UNESCOmarker's list of World Heritage sites.

The city has throughout its history been plagued with numerous great city fires. In 1198 the Bagler-faction set fire on the city in connection with a battle against the Birkebeiner faction during the civil war. In 1248 Holmen and Sverresborg burned, and 11 churches were destroyed. In 1413 another fire struck the city, and 14 churches were destroyed. The city was in 1428 plundered by pirates on mission by the Hanseatic League, the same who was responsible for burning down Munkeliv Abbey in 1455. In 1476 Bryggen burned down in a fire started by a drunk trader. In 1582 another fire hit the city centre and Strandsiden. In 1675, 105 buildings burned down in Øvregaten. In 1686 a new great fire hit Strandsiden, destroying 231 city blocks and 218 boathouses. The greatest fire to date happened in 1702 when 90 percent of the city was burned to ashes. In 1751 there was a great fire at Vågsbunnen. In 1756 a new fire at Strandsiden burned down 1.500 buildings, and further great fires hit Strandsiden in 1771 and 1901. In 1916, 300 buildings burned down in the city centre, and in 1955 parts of Bryggen burned down.

In 1349, the Black Death was inadvertently brought to Norwaymarker by the crew of an English ship arriving in Bergen. In the 15th century the city was several times attacked by the Victual Brothers, and in 1429 they succeeded in burning the royal castle and much of the city. In 1536, the King of the country was able to force the Saxon merchants to become Norwegian citizens, or else to return home, heralding a decline in the Saxon influence. In 1665, the city's harbour was the site of the Battle of Vågen, between English ships on the one side and Dutch ships supported by the city's garrison on the other.

Hieronymus Scholeus's impression of Bergen.
The drawing was made in about 1580 and was published in an atlas with drawings of many different cities (Civitaes orbis terrarum).
Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, Bergen remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia, and was Norway's biggest city until the 1830s, when the capital city of Oslomarker became the largest. Bergen retained its monopoly of trade with Northern Norway until 1789.

In 1916, parts of the city centre were destroyed by a devastating fire, the last of many such fires throughout the city's history. During World War II, Bergen was occupied on the first day of the German invasion on 9 April 1940, after a brief fight between German ships and the Norwegian coastal artillery. On 20 April 1944, during the German occupation, the Dutch cargo ship Voorbode anchored off the Bergenhus Fortressmarker, loaded with over 120 tons of explosives, blew up, killing at least 150 people and damaging historic buildings. The city was subject to some Allied bombing raids, aiming at German naval installations in the harbour. Some of these caused Norwegian civilian casualties numbering about 100.

Bergen was separated from Hordaland as a county of its own in 1831. It was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The rural municipality of Bergen landdistrikt was merged with Bergen on 1 January 1877. The rural municipality of Årstadmarker was merged with Bergen on 1 July 1915. The rural municipalities of Arnamarker, Fanamarker, Laksevågmarker, and Åsanemarker were merged with Bergen on 1 January 1972. The city lost its status as a separate county on the same date. Bergen was Norway's largest city until the 1830s, when it was surpassed by the capital city of Oslomarker. Bergen is now a municipality in Norway, in the county of Hordalandmarker.

In 1972, Bergen was unified with the neighbouring municipalities, of Arna, Fana, Laksevåg, and Åsane, abolishing its county status and setting its present boundaries.


The Norse forms of the name were Bergvin and Bjørgvin. The first element is berg (n) or bjørg (f), which translates to mountain. The last element is vin (f), which means a new settlement where there used to be a pasture or meadow. The full meaning is then 'the meadow among the mountains'. A suitable name: Bergen is often called 'the city among the seven mountains'. It was the playwright Ludvig Holberg who felt so inspired by the seven hills of Romemarker, that he decided that his home town must be blessed with a corresponding seven mountains - and locals still argue which seven they are.

In 1918, there was a campaign to reintroduce the Norse form Bjørgvin as the name of the city. This was turned down - but as a compromise the name of the diocese was changed to Bjørgvin bispedømme.


Bergen municipality occupies the majority of the Bergen peninsula in mid-western Hordalandmarker. It is sheltered from the North Sea by the islands Askøymarker, Holsnøymarker (municipality Melandmarker) and Sotramarker (municipalities Fjellmarker and Sundmarker).

The municipality covers an area of 465 km². The population is 244,620, making the population density 534 people per km². The population of the main urban area is 220,418. The municipality also contains eight minor urban settlements with a total population of 17,213, with Indre Arna, situated in the borough Arnamarker, being the largest with a population of 6,151 as of 1 January 2007.

Bergen's city centre is situated among a group of mountains known collectively as de syv fjell (the seven mountains), including the mountains Ulrikenmarker, Fløyenmarker, Løvstakkenmarker and Damsgårdsfjelletmarker, as well as three of the following: Lyderhornmarker, Sandviksfjelletmarker, Blåmanenmarker, Rundemanenmarker, and Askøyfjelletmarker. The first to name them "the seven mountains" might have been Ludvig Holberg, inspired by the seven hills of Rome. These seven mountains are, however, only a few of the mountains located within the borders of the Bergen municipality. Gullfjelletmarker is the highest mountain in Bergen, at 987 metres above sea level.

Bergen borders the municipalities Melandmarker, Lindåsmarker and Osterøymarker to the north, Vaksdalmarker and Samnangermarker to the east, Osmarker and Austevollmarker to the south, and Sundmarker, Fjellmarker and Askøymarker to the west.

Distance to some cities by road


As of 2002, the average gross income for men above the age of 17 is 426,000 NOK, the average gross income for women above the age of 17 is 238,000 NOK, with the total average gross income being 330,000 NOK. In 2007, there were 104,6 men for every 100 women in the age group of 20-39. 22,8% of the population were under 17 years of age, while 4,5% were 80 and above. 2,1% were first or second generation immigrants with Western backgrounds and 6,6% were first or second generation immigrants with non-Western backgrounds.

Johannes Church is the tallest building in Bergen.
It was built in 1894.

Countries Inhabitants
Total 252,051
EU/EEA, USAmarker, Canadamarker, Australia and New Zealandmarker 235,513
Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania except Australia and New Zealandmarker, and Europe except the EU/EEA 16,538

Country Inhabitants (2008) Inhabitants (2009) Percent of population (%) Percent of immigrants (%)
Total 247,746 252,051 100,0
Ethnic Norwegians 224,064 225,562 89,4
Immigrants 23,682 26,489 10,6 100,0
Polandmarker 2,022 2,741 1,0 10,3
Iraqmarker 1,535 1,589 0,6 5,9
Vietnammarker 1,229 1,247 0,4 4,7
Chilemarker 1,201 1,218 0,4 4,5
Sri Lankamarker 1,061 1,114 0,4 4,2
Germanymarker 915 1,049 0,4 3,9
Swedenmarker 799 898 0,3 3,3
Somaliamarker 751 893 0,3 3,3
United Kingdommarker 843 877 0,3 3,3
Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker 805 799 0,3 3,0
Denmarkmarker 674 675 0,2 2,5
Iranmarker 628 659 0,2 2,4
Thailandmarker 549 630 0,2 2,3
Indiamarker 476 575 0,2 2,1
Turkeymarker 543 569 0,2 2,1
Russiamarker 493 527 0,2 1,9
United Statesmarker 493 524 0,2 1,9
Philippinesmarker 470 520 0,2 1,9
Pakistanmarker 388 417 0,1 1,5
Chinamarker 348 416 0,1 1,5

Urban areas

According to Statistics Norway there are nine urban areas in the municipality - population 1 January 2009:


View over Bergen from Ulriken.
The city centre of Bergen is located west in the municipality, facing the fjord of Byfjordenmarker. It is situated among a group of mountains known as the Seven Mountains, although the number is a matter of definition. From here, the urban area of Bergen extends to the north, west and south, and to its east is a large mountain massif. Outside of the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods (i.e. Årstadmarker, inner Laksevågmarker and Sandviken), the majority of the population lives in relatively sparsely populated residential areas that have been built since the 1950s. While some are dominated by apartment buildings and modern terraced houses (e.g. Fyllingsdalenmarker), others are dominated by single-family homes.

The oldest part of Bergen is the area around the bay of Vågen in the city centre. Originally centred on the eastern side of the bay, Bergen eventually expanded west and southwards. Few buildings from the oldest period remain, the most significant being St Mary's Churchmarker from the 12th century. For several hundred years, the extent of the city remained almost constant. The population was stagnant, and the city limits were narrow. In 1702, 7/8 of the city burned. Most of the old buildings of Bergen, including Bryggen (which was rebuilt in a medieval style), were built after the fire. The fire marked a transition from tar covered houses, as well as the remaining log houses, to painted and some brick-covered wooden buildings.
The last half of the 19th century was a period of rapid expansion and modernisation of the city. The fire of 1855 west of Torgallmenningenmarker lead to the development of regularly sized city blocks in this area of the city centre. The city limits were expanded in 1876, and Nygård, Møhlenpris and Sandviken were urbanised with large-scale construction of city blocks housing both the poor and the wealthy. Their architecture is influenced by a variety of styles; historicism, classicism and Art Nouveau. The wealthy built villas between Møhlenpris and Nygård, and on the side of Fløyen, which had also been added to Bergen in 1876. Simultaneously, an urbanisation process was taking place in Solheimsvikenmarker in Årstad, at the time outside of Bergen municipality, centred around the large industrial activity in the area. The workers' homes in this area were poorly built, and little remains after large-scale redevelopment in the 1960s-1980s.
Narrow streets are a common sight in older parts of Bergen.
After Årstad became a part of Bergen in 1916, a development plan was applied to the new area. Few city blocks akin to those in Nygård and Møhlenpris were planned. Many of the worker class built their own homes, and many small, detached apartment buildings were built. After World War II, Bergen had again run short on land to build on, and, contrary to the original plans, many large apartment buildings were built in Landåsmarker in the 1950s and 1960s. Bergen acquired Fyllingsdalenmarker from Fanamarker municipality in 1955. Like similar areas in Oslo (e.g. Lambertsetermarker), Fyllingsdalen was developed into a modern suburb with large apartment buildings, mid-rises, and some single-family homes, in the 1960s and 1970s. Similar developments took place outside of Bergen's city limits, for example in Loddefjordmarker.

At the same time as planned city expansion took place inside Bergen, its extra-municipal suburbs too grew rapidly. Wealthy citizens of Bergen had been living in Fana since the 19th century, but as the city expanded it became more convenient to settle in the municipality. Similar processes took place in Åsanemarker and Laksevåg. Most of the homes in these areas are detached row houses, single family homes or small apartment buildings. Since the surrounding municipalities were merged with Bergen in 1972, expansion has continued in largely the same manner, although the municipality encourages condensing near commercial centres, future Bergen Light Rail stations, and elsewhere.

As part of the modernisation wave of the 1950s and 1960s, and due to damages caused by World War II, the city government ambitiously developed redevelopment plans for many areas in central Bergen. The plans involved demolition of several neighbourhoods of wooden houses, namely Nordnesmarker, Marken, and Stølen. None of the plans were carried out in their original form, the Marken and Stølen redevelopment plans discarded entirely and that of Nordnes only carried out in the area that had been most damaged by war. The city council of Bergen had in 1964 voted to demolish the enterity of Marken, however, the decision proved to be strongly controversial and the decision was reversed in 1974. Bryggen was under threat of being wholly or partly demolished after the fire of 1955, when a large number of the buildings burned to the ground. Instead of being demolished, the remaining buildings were eventually restored and accompanied by reconstructions of some of the burned buildings. Demolition of old buildings and occasionally whole city blocks is still taking place, the most recent major example being the razing of Jonsvollskvartalet at Nøstet.


Since 2000, the city of Bergen is governed by a city government (byråd) based on the principle of parliamentarism. The government consists of 6 government members called commissioners, and is appointed by the city council, the supreme authority of the city. Since the local elections of 2007, the city has been ruled by a right-wing coalition of the Progress Party, the Christian Democratic Party and the Conservative Party, each with two commissioners. The Progress Party member Gunnar Bakke is mayor, while conservative Monica Mæland is the leader of the city government, the most powerful political position in Bergen.

2007 elections

Bergen city council 2007–2011
Conservative Party 18 (0)
Labour Party 16 (+1)
Progress Party 14 (+2)
Socialist Left Party 5 (–3)
Christian Democratic Party 4 (0)
Liberal Party 4 (+2)
Red Electoral Alliance 3 (–1)
Centre Party 2 (+1)
Pensioners Party 1 (–2)
Total 67
The 2007 city council elections were held on 10 September. The Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Pensioners Party (PP) ended up as the losers of the election, SV going from 11.6% of the votes in the 2003 elections to 7.1%, and PP losing 2.9% ending up at 1.2%. The Liberal Party more than doubled, going from 2.7% to 5.8%. The Conservative Party lost 1.1% of the votes, ending up at 26.3%, while the Progress Party got 20.2% of the votes, a gain of 3% since the 2003 elections. The Christian Democratic Party gained 0.2%, ending up at 6.3%. The Red Electoral Alliance lost 1.4%, ending up at 4.5%, while the Centre Party gained 1.2%, ending up at 2.8%. Finally, the Labour Party continued being the second largest party in the city, gaining one percent and ending up at 23.9%.


Bergen is divided into 8 boroughs, as seen on the map to the right. Going clockwise, starting north, the boroughs are Åsanemarker, Arnamarker, Fanamarker, Ytrebygdamarker, Fyllingsdalenmarker, Laksevågmarker, Årstadmarker and Bergenhusmarker. The city centre is located in Bergenhus. Parts of Fana (= the fens), Ytrebygda, Åsane (= the hills) and Arna are not part of the Bergen urban area, explaining why the municipality has approximately 20,000 more inhabitants than the urban area. The separate borough administrations were closed 30 June 2004, but were re-established 1 January 2008.


Bergen experiences plentiful rainfall, with annual precipitation measuring 2250 mm (88 inches) on average. This is because the city is surrounded by mountains that cause moist North Atlanticmarker air to undergo orographic lift, which yields abundant rainfall. Rain fell every day between 29 October 2006 and 21 January 2007, 85 consecutive days. In the winter, Bergen is one of the warmest cities in Norway, thanks to the Gulf Stream; 10 °C and rain can happen in both January and July. The highest temperature ever recorded was 31.8 °C, a record that dates back to 1947. The lowest ever recorded is -16.3 °C, in 1987.

The high precipitation is often used in the marketing of the city, and figures to a degree on postcards sold in the city. For a period of time there were umbrella vending machines in the city, but these did not turn out to be a success.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg high °C 3.6 4.0 5.9 9.1 14.0 16.8 17.6 17.4 14.2 11.2 6.9 4.7
Avg low temperature °C -0.4 -0.5 0.9 3.0 7.2 10.2 11.5 11.6 9.1 6.6 2.8 0.6
Mean Total Precipitation (mm) 190 152 170 114 106 132 148 190 283 271 259 235
Mean Number of Precipitation Days 21 17 19 17 17 16 18 19 23 24 22 22
Source: World Weather Information Service

Climate change

In recent years, precipitation and winds have increased in the city. In late 2005, heavy rains caused floods and several landslides, the worst of which killed three people on 14 September. Some indications are that due to global warming, severe storms causing landslides and floods will become more powerful in the area and in surrounding counties in coming years. As a response, the municipality created a special 24-man rescue unit within the fire department in 2005, to respond to future slides and other natural disasters, and neighbourhoods considered at risk of slides were surveyed in 2006. As of October 2007, the prediction has been supported by over 480 landslides in Hordaland county from the spring of '06 to the summer of '07. Most of the slides hit roadsnone of them caused damage to cars, buildings, or people, until October 2007, when a large rock dislodged and killed the driver of a car.Another concern is the risk of rising sea levels. Already today, Bryggen is regularly flooded at extreme tide, and it is feared that as sea levels rise, floods will become a major problem in Bergen. Floods may in the future reach the old fire station in Olav Kyrres Gate, as well as the railroad tracks leading out of the city. It has therefore been suggested by among others Stiftelsen Bryggen, the foundation responsible for preserving the UNESCO site, that a sea wall, built so that it could be raised and lowered as demanded by the tides, be built outside the harbour to protect the city.

Another effect of recent years' weather conditions in the area is that Norwegians increasingly believe that climate change is a threat.


Higher education

Bergen has one university, the University of Bergenmarker, and one university college, Bergen University Collegemarker, with a total of 22,000 students and 3,600 staff. With approximately 16,000 students and 3,000 staff, the University of Bergen ( ) is the third largest university in Norway, after the University of Oslomarker and the Norwegian University of Science and Technologymarker. Although it was founded as late as 1946, academic activity had been taking place at Bergen Museummarker since 1825. The university's academic profile focuses on marine research and co-operation with developing countries. In 2002, the university was awarded three national centres of excellence in climate research, petroleum research and medieval studies. In December 2004, billionaire Trond Mohn donated 250 million NOK to the University as research funding. In addition, he has given the university several individual gifts of 50 million NOK.

Bergen University Collegemarker (Norwegian: Høgskolen i Bergen) is one of 24 state-owned university colleges in Norway. As of 2007, it has approximately 6,000 students and 600 staff. The university college offers studies directed towards specific professions. The college is organised in 3 faculties: the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.
The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administrationmarker (Norwegian: Norges Handelshøyskole) is a leading school of business and economics in Norway. Finn E. Kydland, the most recent (2004) of three Norwegian laureates of the Economy Nobel Prize, has studied and lectured at the school. The school has approximately 2,700 students and 350 staff. As the result of a resolution passed by the Norwegian stortingmarker in 1917, the school was founded in 1936 as the first business school in Norway. As of 2007, the school's MSc programme is ranked by the Financial Times as the 36th best in Europe.

The Bergen School of Architecture (Bergen Arkitekt Skole), founded in 1986 by architect Svein Hatløy, has alternative programs, with graduates like 3RW arkitekter and Tommie Wilhemsen.

The Bergen National Academy of the Artsmarker (Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen, approximately 300 students and 100 staff) is one of the two independent institutions of higher learning in the visual arts and design in Norway. Students can take a three-year Bachelor degree and a two-year Master degree in the following areas: Visual Art, Interior Architecture, Furniture Design, Room Design, Visual Communications, Photography, Printmaking, Ceramics and Textiles.

The Naval Academymarker (Sjøkrigsskolen) of the Royal Norwegian Navy is located at Laksevåg in Bergen.

Primary and secondary education

The former building of the Bergen Katedralskole, then known as Bergen Latinskole.
There are 64 elementary schools, 18 lower secondary schools and 20 upper secondary schools in Bergen, as well as 11 combined elementary/lower secondary schools.

Bergen Katedralskolemarker ( ) is believed to have been founded in 1153 by Pope Adrian IV (then known as Nicholas Breakspear), thus making it Bergen's oldest school and one of the oldest schools in Norway. The school moved to its present location in 1840, and the old building was left mostly unused until the School Museum of Bergen moved into the building in 2003. Since 1972 the school is a regular upper secondary school (similar to a high school in the United States and the United Kingdom).

In 2006, Bergen Handelsgymnasiummarker, an upper secondary school in Bergen, was chosen as a finalist in the The Holberg Prize School Project.


The University of Bergen and Haukeland University Hospital are by far the largest research institutions in Bergen.

The Chr.marker Michelsen Institutemarker (Christian Michelsens Institutt), founded in 1930, is located in Bergen. With an annual turnover of 56 million NOK, it is one of Scandinavia's largest independent research institutes on human rights and development issues. The aim of CMI is to inform and influence policy on international development issues.

The Norwegian Institute of Marine Researchmarker (Norwegian: Havforskningsinstituttet), formerly known as Norwegian Fisheries Investigations (Norwegian: Norske Fiskeriundersøgelser) has been located in Bergen since 1900. The primary responsibility of the institute is to provide advice to national authorities, society and industry regarding questions related to the ecosystems of the Barents Seamarker, the Norwegian Seamarker, the North Seamarker and the Norwegian coastal zone and in the field of aquaculture. The institute has a staff of 700, making it the largest marine research institution in Norway.

UNIFOB AS is a non-profit research organisation affiliated with the University of Bergen. Unifob conducts research and associated activities across all the scientific fields covered by the university departments, including Petroleum, Health, Computational Science, Marine Molecular Biology.


Bergen's inter-municipal harbour is by far Norway's largest port and one of Europe's largest ports, according to the inter-municipal company Port of Bergen.

In August 2004, Time magazine named the city one of Europe's 14 "secret capitals" where Bergen's capital reign is acknowledged within maritime businesses and activities such as aquaculture and marine research, with the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) (the second-largest in Europe) as the leading institution. Bergen is the main base for the Royal Norwegian Navy (at Haakonsvernmarker) and its international airport Fleslandmarker is the main heliport for the huge Norwegian North Sea oil and gas industry, from where thousands of offshore workers commute to their work places onboard oil and gas rigs and platforms.

The headquarters of TV 2 Norway's largest commercial television channel are located in Bergen.

One of Norwaymarker's largest shopping malls Lagunen Storsentermarker is located in Fanamarker in Bergen, with a turnover of 2 540 million Norwegian kroner, and 5.2 million visitors every year.

Tourism is an important income source for the city. The hotels in the city may be full at times, due to the increasing number of tourists and conferences. Prior to the Rolling Stones concert in September 2006, many hotels were already fully-booked several months in advance. Bergen is recognised as the unofficial capital of the region known as West Norway, and recognised and marketed as the gateway city to the world famous fjords of Norway and for that reason it has become Norway's largest - and one of Europe's largest - cruise ship ports of call.


Bergen has an international airport, Bergen Airport, Fleslandmarker, with direct flights to several European cities. The Bergensbanen railway line runs east to Vossmarker, Geilomarker, Hønefossmarker and Oslomarker.The E39 road passes through the city, connecting to Trondheim and Stavanger. The E16 road to Oslo passes through the Lærdalstunnelenmarker, the longest road tunnel in the world. Bergen was the first city in Northern Europe to introduce a ring of toll roads entirely surrounding the city, making entering the city centre by car impossible without paying the toll. The toll road system, established to fund new roads and motorways, opened 2 January 1986.
The toll was collected by both toll plazas and an electronic toll collection system. In the early 2000s, the electronic toll collection system AutoPASS was introduced, replacing both the remaining toll plazas and the existing but dated electronic toll collection system.

Public transportation is provided by the transportation company Tide, the result of a merger between Gaia and HSD. Among the fleet of buses are 8 trolleybuses (two of which are dual-mode buses). Local train transport to Arna is provided by Norges Statsbaner. There is a funicular (Fløibanenmarker) and an aerial tramway (Ulriksbanenmarker). The city's tram system was closed in 1965, although a museum line still operates on Møhlenpris. The construction of a modern light rail line connecting the city centre with Nesttunmarker and Bergen Airport has been approved by Stortingetmarker and is underway. Express buses go to all larger destinations in Norway.

The Norwegian coastal steamer service Hurtigruten originates in Bergen, running north to Trondheim, Bodø, Tromsø and Kirkenes. Passenger catamarans run from Bergen south to Haugesundmarker and Stavangermarker, and north to Sognefjordenmarker and Nordfjordmarker. Car ferries connect to Hanstholm, and Hirtshalsmarker in Denmark, Lerwickmarker, Scrabstermarker, Tórshavnmarker on the Faroe Islandsmarker, and Seyðisfjörðurmarker in Iceland. The service from Newcastlemarker in the United Kingdom, once provided by such ships as the Leda, was cancelled after 1 September 2008.

Culture and sports

Bergen is an important cultural centre in its region and in Norway, maybe best known for hosting the annual Bergen International Festival (Festspillene i Bergen). The city is home to the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, which was founded in 1765 and is one of the world's oldest orchestral institutions. The orchestra performs regularly at the 1,500 seat Grieg Hallmarker. The city is also home of the Bergen Woodwind Quintet, which is made up primarily of principal winds of the Bergen Philharmonic. Bergen was a European Capital of Culture in 2000. Other main cultural events include Borealis, Nattjazz, Lost Weekend Festivalen and Bergenfest (formerly Ole Blues).
There are numerous amateur bands in Bergen and the surrounding communities, performing regularly throughout the city. They generally fall within two distinct categories: brass bands, following the British band tradition, and Janitsjar or wind bands, which include both woodwind and brass instruments. Both of these types of bands tend to be quite competitive, and the Grieg Hall in Bergen is home to the annual Norwegian Brass Band Championships, which takes place in late winter.

A third category, perhaps unique to Bergen, are the Buekorps, a prominent feature in the Constitution Day celebrations in the city. Buekorps parade in the streets with wooden sticks shaped as guns or crossbows, sabres and even halberds, to a military snare sounded by several drummers. The performers are usually boys between 7 and 21 years of age, but older veterans can be seen. In recent times there are buekorps for girls and for both girls and boys as well. Buekorps are regarded with warmth by some, whilst others dislike them due to their militarised appearance or the dominant sound of the drumming.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s several pop, rock and black metal artists from Bergen became famous, at home as well as abroad. Many of these were connected to the small record label Tellé Records. In the domestic press this became known as the Bergen Wave.

Bergen has a small but thriving scene for contemporary art, most notably centred around BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen Kunsthall, United Sardines Factory (USF) and Bergen Center for Electronic Arts (BEK).

With circulations of 87,076 and 30,719 in 2006,) Bergens Tidende and Bergensavisenmarker are the two largest newspapers in Bergen. Bergens Tidende has won three European Newspaper Awards, in 2006 for best designed regional newspaper, in 2004 for best designed weekly newspaper, and in 2002 for best designed regional newspaper. The city is also the home of several smaller newspapers and publications, including Fanaposten (circulation of 4,062), a local newspaper for Fanamarker, Bygdanytt in Arna, and the Christian newspaper Dagen (circulation of 8,936).


Bergen has two professional football teams, Brann and Løv-Ham. Brann plays in the Premier League, while Løv-Ham plays in the first division. Despite Løv-Ham playing in the 2nd highest level in Norwegian football, Brann is the only club to draw any considerable interest from the public. The first Løv-Ham supporter group, Selskapsløvene ( ) was created as recently as December 2005. Brann play their matches at Brann stadionmarker, with a capacity of 17,824 as of June 2007, while Løv-Ham played their matches at Krohnsminde kunstgressbanemarker until 2008, with a capacity of 3000, but an attendance record of 1051 in the league. They now play their games at Varden Amfimarker in Fyllingsdalen.

Although Brann is one of the largest teams in Norway, the team has had limited success in the Premier League and the cup. They have won the cup six times, most recently in 2004. Brann won the Premier League in 1961/62 and then in 1963. The 1963 title was directly followed by the relegation of the team into the Second Division (today known as Adeccoligaen, the second highest level of Norwegian football). The team has won several silver and bronze medals since, but didn't win the league again until the 2007 season.


Bergensk, or the Bergen dialect, is the dialect of Norwegian spoken in Bergen. It is easy for Norwegians to recognise, as it is very easily distinguished from the other dialects in Hordaland. Like almost all Norwegian dialects, Bergensk cannot be said to be either Bokmål or Nynorsk. While the vocabulary shows many traits of both Bokmål and Nynorsk, it has many characteristics that are not covered by either of the two official written languages.

Foreigners, such as the Low German speaking merchants of the Hanseatic League who lived in Bergen in the period from about 1350 to 1750, have had a profound impact on the dialect. Bergen being the major Norwegian city during the Dano-Norwegian union from 1536 to 1814 led to Bergensk absorbing more of the Danish than other Norwegian dialects. Many, but not all, influences from these languages since spread from Bergen to parts of or the whole of Norway.

The female grammatical gender disappeared from Bergensk in the 16th century, probably as a result of influences from Danish, making the city's dialect one of the very few in Norway with only two grammatical genders. All others, excepting sociolects in other Norwegian cities, have three. The Rs are uvular trills, as in French, which probably spread to Bergen (and Kristiansandmarker) some time in the 18th century, overtaking the alveolar trill in the time span of 2 to 3 generations. Owing to an improved literacy rate, Bergensk was influenced by riksmål and bokmål in the 19th and 20th centuries. This led to large parts of the German-inspired vocabulary disappearing and pronunciations shifting slightly towards East Norwegian.

Notable residents

International relations

Each year Bergen donates the Christmas Tree seen in Newcastle's Haymarket as a sign of the ongoing friendship between the sister cities.Bergen's strong foreign influence, such as Hanseatic League merchants in the period from about 1350 to 1750, has had a profound impact on the Bergen dialect. The Hanseatic merchants spoke variations of Low German. Also, Bergen being the major Norwegian city during the Dano-Norwegian union from 1536 to 1814, Bergensk absorbed more of the Danish than other Norwegian dialects. Being the origins of the written language and thus having higher status, Danish continued to have an impact on bergensk into the 20th century, and a Dano-Norwegian koiné sociolect, resembling Riksmål, is still spoken, although it in recent decades has become much more similar to Bokmål. Some originally Low German words found their way to the Bergen dialect through Danish. The long history of multi-lingual coexistence in Bergen has made the dialect more susceptible to simplifications, in order to ease communication. The influence of Danish and Low German are apparent in the modern Bergen dialect's phonetics. Many, but not all, influences from these languages since spread from Bergen to parts of or the whole of Norway. The "r"s are Uvular trills, as in French. It probably spread to Bergen (and Kristiansandmarker) some time in the 18th century, overtaking the Rolled r in the time span of about 2-3 generations. Until recent decades' developments in neighboring rural dialects, this was an easy way of distinguishing them from the Bergen dialect.


  1. NRK, " Bergens historie må skrives om"
  3. Bjørbæk, G. 2003. Norsk vær i 110 år. N.W. DAMM & Sønn. ISBN 82-04-08695-4; page 260

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