30 May 2016

Bumming Around Bergen: Bergenhus Fortress and Håkonshallen

After checking out Edvard Grieg's villa, I went back to the city, and this time, I explored the historical areas of the city that I haven't checked out yet. There was Bryggen, which was the oldest part of the city, and close to it is the Bergenhus Fortress. This is located close to the city's harbor, and is one of the oldest and most preserved fortresses in Norway.

They say that it was built back in 1240, which is definitely a while ago. Perhaps that is the reason why there aren't plenty of buildings that are still standing. Nevertheless, there are a few notable ones, and some of them are open to the public.

The pictures I have above show you the general feel and atmosphere of the place. The architecture is definitely medieval, although there were a few newer structures here and there. I am not sure who manages it nowadays, but I had a feeling that it isn't totally civilian, due to the presence of some military structures and personnel during my visit.

Perhaps the most famous and important structure inside the fortress is Håkonshallen, or Haakon's Hall. This medieval royal hall was constructed in the middle of the 13th century, and over the years, took on several different purposes. At one point, it was even destroyed and abandoned, and recently, they renovated and reconstructed it, and restored its former glory. I suggest paying a visit to it just to see ancient medieval structures, which is a rarity nowadays.

You can also see the cavernous underground area; the first few photos I have above show you what's it like underneath the hall. It is not managed by the local museum, and I had a feeling that they use it for special events, nevertheless, when I visited, all I saw were several empty tables and chairs, which made it seem like an empty restaurant.

The final set of photos above show you how close the sea is to the fortress. This is just outside of the fortress, taken from a high hill. In fact, during World War II, there was an accident that happened when a ship carrying dynamite exploded, and because of that, the roof of Håkonshallen caught fire and was destroyed.

Anyway, this is the last post about Bergen's historical areas. The next couple of Bergen posts that are coming up will then deal with the art scene in town, which, I have to say, is great! Stay tuned.


  1. These ivy-covered walls are amazing! 13th century... crazy, when you think of it.

    1. Zhu,

      Yeah, 13th century was definitely a long time ago. This is in stark contrast to historic North American structures: one time I was in Los Angeles, and found the Old Town, and compared to Europe, that was quite young and new!