Top Historic Sights in Bergen, Norway

Explore the historic highlights of Bergen

Bryggen

Bryggen (Norwegian for the Wharf), is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the fjord coming into Bergen. Bryggen has since 1979 been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites. The name has the same origin as the Flemish city of Brugge. The city of Bergen was founded in 1070. The area of the present Bryggen constitutes the oldest part of the city. Around 1360 a Kontor of the Han ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bergen, Norway

Korskirken

Korskirken is located at the intersection of the streets Kong Oscars gate and Nedre Korskirkeallmenning and dates back to the latter half of the 12th century. The name of the church refers to the True Cross (and not to its cruciform plan), and is usually rendered in English as 'Holy Cross Church'. This is because it was, as one of only a Norwegian churches, in possession of a relic from the True Cross. This relic was late ...
Founded: c. 1181 | Location: Bergen, Norway

St. Paul Catholic Church

Sankt Paul katolske kirke is a Roman Catholic church built in 1870. It is the main church of c. 12000 Catholics in Bergen.
Founded: 1870 | Location: Bergen, Norway

St. Mary's Church

St Mary"s Church (Mariakirken) construction is believed to have started in the 1130s or 40s and completed around 1180, making the church the oldest remaining building in Bergen. St Mary"s Church is the only remaining of twelve churches and three monasteries built in Bergen between its foundation during the reign of Olav Kyrre (1066–93, traditionally 1070) and the end of the twelfth century. Excavations have revealed ...
Founded: 1130s | Location: Bergen, Norway

Christ Church Ruins

Christ Church was the main church and cathedral of Bergen in the Middle Ages. The church was built by King Olav Kyrre during the period 1066-1093. The church was situated north of Haakon"s hall, the King"s hall. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity but was always known as Christ Church. In 1170 the relics of Saint Sunniva were moved here from Selja and placed on the main altar. During Bergen"s period as th ...
Founded: 1066-1093 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as wel ...
Founded: 1240s | Location: Bergen, Norway

Nonneseter Abbey Chapel

Nonneseter Abbey is first recorded by name in 1262, but certainly founded many years earlier, possibly in or about 1150. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The nuns apparently belonged to the Cistercian Order, although this is not confirmed until as late as 1494. It seems probable that a hospital run by the nuns, documented in 1411, was the forerunner of the later St. George"s (Sankt Jørgens) lepers" ho ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bergen, Norway

Bergen Museum

Bergen Museum or officially The University Museum of Bergen was founded in 1825. It is divided into two departments, the Natural History Collections and the Cultural History Collections and Public Outreach and exhibitions. It is also the caretaker of the museum garden, formerly the botanical garden, surrounding the natural history building, and the city's arboretum. The cultural history museum exhibits the history of regi ...
Founded: 1825 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Bergen Cathedral

Bergen Cathedral was first time mentioned in 1181. It retains its ancient dedication to St. Olaf. During the reign of king Haakon IV of Norway, a Franciscan friary was established near the church, then known as Olavskirken, or the church of Saint Olaf, which was incorporated in it. The church burned down in 1248 and again in 1270, but was reconstructed after both fires. In 1463, it burned down again, but this time it was ...
Founded: 1181 | Location: Bergen, Norway

St. John's Church

St. John"s Church was built between 1891 and 1894 in the Gothic Revival style. With 1250 seats, it is the largest church in Bergen. In 1888, an architectural contest was conducted for the design of a new church. It was built from drawings by architect, Herman Major Backer (1856–1932). The frescoes in the Church"s ceiling date from 1924 and were completed by Hugo Lous Mohr (1889-1970). The building process ...
Founded: 1891-1894 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Nykirken

Nykirken (literally The new church) is a cruciform church originally built in 1621 on the site of the ruins of the home of the archbishop, a stone building that was built in the 14th century, and was destroyed by fire. The church only stood for two years before it burned down in 1623. It was immediately rebuilt. In 1660 the church was again destroyed by fire and again rebuilt in 1670. Later fires happened in 1756 and in 1 ...
Founded: 1621 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Fredriksberg Fortress

The Norwegian fortress Fredriskberg lay strategically placed on Nordnes’ highest point with a precipitous cliff face to the sea on the west side. Dutch Engineer Major General Henrik Ruse (1624-79) initiated the fortress construction, planned with three bastions and a half bastion on the land side and a wall on the side adjacent to the cliff. The fort was built between 1666 and 1667. It was built after and in many re ...
Founded: 1666-1667 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Fantoft Stave Church

Fantoft Stave Church is a reconstructed stave church, originally built in Fortun in Sogn around the year 1150. In the 19th century the church was threatened by demolition, as were hundreds of other stave churches in Norway. The church was bought by consul Fredrik Georg Gade and saved by moving it in pieces to Fantoft near (now in) Bergen in 1883. Outside the church stands a stone cross from Tjora in Sola. On 6 June 1992, ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Damsgård Manor

Damsgård Manor is a landmark manor and estate in Bergen, Norway. It is noted for its distinct rococo style and is possibly the best preserved wooden building from 18th-century Europe. The area surrounding the manor was most likely populated during the Viking era or earlier, but literary evidence shows it was a population center in 1427, listed as church property. Following the Reformation in 1536, the estate was taken o ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Luxembourg Palace

The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.

The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.

In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.

During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.