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Bergenhus Fortress :: Bergen, Norway

July 21, 2010 by  
Category: Landmarks

Once the capitol of Norway, the city of Bergen holds many unique and exciting experiences for those looking to see a different side of Europe. Among the more beautiful stop over points is Bergenhus Fortress. One of the best preserved castles in Norway, this 13th Century masterpiece was once the home of Viking royalty. Today only two of the original medieval structures are still standing (King Håkon’s Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower) however there were continual additions to the site over the years and much remains to see and do. Though the rainiest place in the country (getting about 89 inches of precipitation a year), the warm, welcoming spirits of the people will guarantee that your spirits are not dampened on your trip.

The very first construction began around 1100 AD, however Bergenhus Fortress as it is seen today broke ground in the 1240s. Located towards the southeast end of the property, Rosenkrantz Tower is considered by Norwegians to be one of the nation’s most important historical monuments. King Eric II (1268-1299) lived in the tower until his death. About 400 years later, many other less fortunate people took up residence in the tower’s dungeon. If the dark confines of the underground prison are not your cup of tea, there are amazing views from the top of Rosenkrantz Tower. Just be aware there is only a low wall there protecting you from a quick end to your vacation plans, so be aware of your surroundings when you’re up there taking amazing pictures of the Norwegian coast and countryside.

When you walk into in King Håkon’s Hall, the first thing to strike you will be the massive Gothic style windows. Having undergone extensive restoration due to years of exposure and significant damage from the accidental explosion of a military ship in World War II, it is amazing how wonderful the hall still looks. It is clear from the size and grandeur that this majestic structure was intended (and used) for royal weddings, coronations, and other special monarchical occasions. Ornately carved chairs sit in the far end of the room and still welcome Norway’s royalty during special state functions. In fact a large number of events are held in Haakon Hall every year including concerts and banquets.

There is also a museum at Bergenhus Fortress which has many interesting artifacts and sections dedicated to women’s history and the role of Bergen in World War II. Visiting all three of these costs no more than $10.00 USD. Guided tours are run May 15th to August 31st every hour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. September to May 14th tours are only done Sundays from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. After the tours, you can go out on your own and visit many of the lovely spots around the property to enjoy a light snack, look at old cannons, or even have a barbecue in the park (special note: alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden and this rule is strongly enforced). Both educational and beautiful, Bergenhus Fortress is a great place to get to know Norway’s history and legacy.

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