Thursday, July 24, 2008

Norwegian Experience Trip Day 2

As we mentioned yesterday, today is Marcia Stein's first full day in Norway where she will spend the next week and a half traveling as the winner of the 2007 Norwegian Experience recruitment contest sponsored by Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas!

It's going to be a full day for Marcia and her traveling companions. They will embark on a private, guided walking tour of Bergen, which will include the historic area of Bryggen, visit the Fish Market and go all the way to the top of Mt. Fløien for a spectacular view of the city below.

About Bergen:
Originally a port settlement called
Bjørgvin, which was granted municipality in 1070 by Olav Kyrre, developed rapidly as an occasional royal residence. In 1233, Håkon Håkonsson's hereditary right to the throne was recognized at a general assembly held here, and by 1240 Bergen was formally declared the capital of Norway in place of Trondheim. King Håkon Håkonsson held his court here and he was a very popular king whose reign was long and peaceful. His son, Magnus, married the Danish princess Ingeborg and the same day was crowned joint King of the land of Norway by his father. To celebrate the event, a great banquet was held in the hall now called Håkonshallen, which stands at the entrance to the harbor of Bergen.

The Middle Ages saw the Black Death sweep over Europe. Norway was devastated, having half the population succumb to the pestilence. After this, from about 1420, and for about 400 years, the rule of Norway oscillated between Denmark and Sweden. Bergen, during this time, remained a major trading center. It maintained international contact and the old, socially elite families of Bergen built up large trading empires. Life in Bergen was centered around fishing and shipping up until the present time when, during the 1980’s, oil was discovered off the North Sea. Thus, with this discovery, Bergen entered an age of new prosperity and industry. In 1986, the bubble burst; the drop in oil prices caused an economic recession in Bergen.

Tomorrow there will be a continuation of the "About Bergen" section with information about modern-day Bergen. Until then, here are some great historical attractions that are in and around Bergen:
  • Home of Edvard Grieg
    Troldhaugen is the former home of composer Edvard Grieg, beautifully situated on a lake just outside of Bergen. The house features his furnishings and artifacts, and there is a comprehensive museum detailing his life and accomplishments. The museum is open all year, except December and Easter. Frequent public concerts are held, particularly in the summer season (Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays).

  • Old Bergen Open Air Museum
    The Old Bergen Open Air Museum is a collection of 40 historic houses from the 19th and 20th Century, situated just outside the city center. (Buss nr. 9, 20, 21, 22, 50, 70, 80, 90 – walking takes about 50 minutes)

  • Bergenhus Fortress
    Medieval Fortress - A little further along the harbor you will come to Håkonshallen and the Rosenkrantz Tower -- two of the town's most impressive buildings. The hall was built by King Håkon Håkonsson in the 12th century as a ceremonial hall within the confines of his residential estate at the time Bergen was the political hub of Norway. As for the Rosenkrantz Tower, most of what you see today is from the 16th century. King Magnus Lawmender's keep from about 1260 and Jørgen Hanssøn's defences from about 1520 make up some parts of the tower as well. Rosenkrantz Tower was put up as a combined defense and residence for the governor of Berghus (Bergen Castle), Erik Rosenkrantz, in the 1560's.

That's all for now, but make sure to check back later today to hear about all the excitement of Marcia's first full day in gorgeous Bergen.

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