The second half our of time in Bergen was spent visiting some of the sites outside of the city centre. By the time we eventually received our hire car it was the afternoon, but it was just as well, as it would have taken longer to get to the first two designations on foot or by public transport. So the highlights of our afternoon in Bergen include the Old Bergen Museum, Fantoft Stave Church, Fløyen and a delicious dinner at Pingvinen. We did return to Bergen a few days later before flying out so I included the lunch we had from a great little Norwegian burger joint, Søstrene Hagelin at the end of this post.
Old Bergen Museum
Gamle Bergen Museum is a reconstructed small town, which contains over 50 wooden houses from the 1700s through to the 1900s. It illustrates the significant period in Norwegian history, between pre-industrial and industrial Norway. It is the only city-historical open-air museum in Norway, which also provides the scenery and illustrates the conditions that the people in the city lived. In the 19th century Bergen was the largest European city with wooden buildings with a distinctive urban environment . It also featured steep streets, that were densely built, with squares, markets and alleyways. This museum provides a glimpse into the past of what Old Bergen use to be like. Many of the buildings are from the city centre of Bergen, but there are also some from different regions in the area. These buildings were moved to the museum after WWII and it has been open to the public since 1949. Many of the buildings are open to walk in and explore and others are just to be view from outside. The museum also has actors that bring Old Bergen to life and add to the nostalgia. These towns people welcome you into their homes and places of work and also perform short plays in the square. This museum is only short distance from the centre of Bergen, taking only 30 mins to walk or 7 minutes to drive. It also has a park (with a view), restaurant (June-August) and museum shop , so you can visit those without visiting the museum.
We arrived to the museum just before 3pm and we only had about an hour to walk around. If you visit make sure you check the opening times as they vary throughout the year. We were late because we were waiting for the hire car company for nearly 2 hours to give us our car. In hindsight, I probably should have walked to the museum or caught public transport, but then 1 hour was definitely long enough to see this museum. We received a map when we arrived, which told us which buildings were open and had actors. We were also told that there was going to be a performance in the square, however that was later cancelled, which I found from a towns person, while I was waiting. She advised I should have been there earlier, which of course was not my intention. I was a little disappointed that every time the actors weren’t in the buildings. I did follow a couple but then they disappeared into thin air. I guess they were wanting to go home and I should of been early to make the most of the experience. I did meet one young man in the lolly shop that you can see below. If you have the time, this is a relatively cheap attraction in Bergen and a great way to experience the Bergen of yesteryear. You can see the map here, which is similar to what I received.
As we entered we walked passed the duck ponds on the right and cow shed, etc on the left. When we got about half way down we found the office that sells tickets and sourveirs. We then began walking up the steep cobbled street, which ended with the torget (square). The following buildings below are the ones we were able to go inside of and view the interiors.
The Baker’s House (Bakerens hus)
Bakerens hus was build in 1728, located at Kroken 1, near the Bergen Fortress. It was originally a one-storey building, but another floor was added at the end of the 18 century. Between 1728 to 1944 it was a bakery, which renown for its breads and cakes. The master baker was Detleff Martens, who was the founder of the Martens family and the largest bakery plant in Norway. Since then different baker families owned the bakery, however it was damaged in the explosion of 1944 and later rebuilt in the museum in 1949. The museum presents the living-room and bedroom where the baker’s family lived. It does also have a kitchen, where the maid would have slept inside the kitchen bench.
The Merchant’s House (Kjøpmannens hus)
Kjøpmannens hus was built before 1760 and located at Strandgaten 136, in Strandsiden, Bergen. It was damanged in the explosion of 1944 and rebuilt in the museum in 1952. It features a draper’s store, from 1870–1880s. Upstairs there is the merchant apartment, which includes a kitchen and living room, typical of the 1870s (closed on visit).
The Sea Captain’s House (Skipperens hus)
Skipperens hus was built before 1758 and located at Nykirkeallmenning 8, in Strandsiden, Bergen. It was a perfumery since 1872 and was the only one to survive the great fire of 1916. However, it was severely damaged in the explosion of 1944 and rebuilt in the museum in 1949. It was believed that the house was split into two aparments, so it was been presented as the residence of a sea-captain on the first floor and a perfumery on the ground floor.
The Ropemaker’s House (Repslegerens hus)
Repslagerens hus was built in 1805 and located at Sandviksveien 85, Sankviken, Bergen. It was orignally the residence of a ropemaker and his family and was rebuilt in the museum in 1954. The museum has presented it with Toys from the end of the 18th century until the modern era, a hairdressor salon from the 1930’s and a Grocer’s shop from 1926. We were not able to see the hairdressing salon, however when the actor in the local grocery store arrive the secret door opened. He was the only actor we really spoke to and he told us about the kind of lollies in his shop.
The Sailor’s house (Sjømannens hus)
Sjømannens hus was built before 1766 and was located at Nordnesgaten 27, on the peninsula of Nordnes, Bergen. This small farmhouse (3 x 6 m)and was moved to the museum in 1950. It was home to a sailor, his wife and four children.
The Barber’s House (Barberens hus)
The Dentist House (Tannlegens hus)
Tannlegens hus was built around 1758 and was located at Strandgaten 138, in Strandsiden, Bergen. It was originally a residence of a merchant and his family.It was rebuilt in the museum in 1961. The first floor has been presented as a doctor’s surgury from 1910 and umbrella business from 1900. The second floor has been presented as a dentisit’s house and surgery from 1885-1900 and a dentist’s surgery from the 1920s.
The Craftsman’s House (Håndverkerhuset)
Håndverkerhuset was built around 1780 and located at Nordesgaten 23, on the peninsula of Nordnes, Bergen. It was originally a residential home of a merchant and his family. It was damaged by an explosion the of 1944 and later rebuilt in the museum in 1965. The museum has presented it as traditional guilds (1900), containing a book printing office, bookshop, photographer’s studio (in the attic) and a tin-smith’s workshop (in the basement).
The Glazier’s House (Glassmesterhuset)
Glassmesterhuset was built after 1756 and located at Nordnesgaten 25, on the peninsula of Nordnes, Bergen. It is believed it was built after the fire of 1756, as it was constructed on top of large cellar, probably belonging to a former larger house. It was later rebuilt in the museum in 1964. It is presented as the home of a glazier and his family from about the 1900s.
The Hall/Chapel (Torvsalen/Bedehuset)
This building was bulit in 1881 and was originally located at Garvergaten in Solheim Nord, Bergen. It was owned by the evangelical association, Solheimsviken Indremisjonsforening and originally used as a chapel. The museum rebuilt it in 1983 and use it as a venue for large events and it is often rented for meetings, lectures and private functions.
We started descending down from the square and came across:
These two buildings were originally located on Sandviksveien 94 in Sandviken, Bergen. In 1600’s these were a place of light (summer homes) and later an inn, until it was bought by wealthy merchant Hans Krohn (1742-1808) in 1785. The main building, Krohnstedet (white building) was used as a summer house, whereas Krohn Bailiff’s house (red building) was used for entertaining. On the second floor of Krohn Bailiff house the museum recreated a dinner that took place on June 20 1808. Unfortunately both buildings where not open for us to view the interiors.
At the bottom of the road we came back to where we entered and visited:
Cowhouse and Barn, The Carriage House, The Stable
The first little building that isn’t named is a little children’s play house. Besides that is the Cowhouse and Barn, Carriage House and The Stable. The Carriage house had a few different old fashioned coaches.
Next we went right, behind the duck pond up to the park, which is free to visit.
Southern Hill & Duck Pond
We first walked by Frydenlund, which is a summer house built inthe 1799 by a merchant. It is neoclassic style and originally from the Sandviken area, but rebuilt in the museum in 1951. We were not able to go into the interior of the building. The Tower House (bathrooms), the Summer Pavilion and Pavilion (off duck pond) were erected on site between 1808-1822. The Summer Pavilion is well known for being the place the Edvard Greig composed some of his music in 1873. The Pavilion contains a diorama, made in 1944. It is a model of the original place of the museum by Architect Kristian Bjerknes.
After we preceded to the eastern side of the museum.
Mansion House/Elsesro Lyststed (Restaurant)
This building was built in 1784 and originally owned by the shipbuilder, Rasmus Rolfsen (1760-1808) and was used as a summer house. It is the only building in this museum that was on site. In 1808, Rasmus son, Tønnes, took over the estate and added two wings and a large hall upstairs. The walls of the hall were decorated by Bergen painter J .G. Müller, with city and landscape imagery. The downstairs interior is stylised from the late Victorian period. Today this building is used as a restaurant and and banquet facility.
I continued past the restaurant and went up the steep hill to see the last buildings. This area is also free to visit, but does contain some residential housing.
Skolehuset and Skomakerens verksted (Schoolhouse and Shoemaker’s Workshop)
The School was originally located at Sandviksveien 52 in Sandviken, Bergen. It was originally a small two room home, which belonged to a ferry and fisherman and was built before 1761. It was presented as a school in the museum, since a small school was located near by. The Shoemaker’s workshop building belonged to the shoemaker, Mons Andersen (l874–1961) and the entire contents of the building was moved to the museum. We weren’t able to see inside this building or any of the other buildings in this area.
When I was exploring this area I did have a strange experience with one of the residential houses (picture 7 below). I saw the door was wide open and then it slammed shut I was about 5 metres away. When I walked up to the door it was locked. I guess it probably was because someone lived there and slammed the door, but at the time I thought it was part of the museum and was a bit freaked out.
Fantoft Stave Church
After visiting the Old Bergen Museum we decided we may as well visit the Fantoft Stave Church today while it was still open. Marco was still getting use to the car and driving on the opposite side of the road and we did get a bit lost. However a nice Norwegian man helped us on our way when we pulled into his drive way. By the time we arrived Octavia was fast asleep so we decided we would take turns visiting this old church.
This old stave church was originally built in Fortun in Sogn og Fjordane county in 1150. However, in the 19th century it was threatened to be demolished, like many old stave churches in Norway, to make way for modern churches. It was later moved all the way to Fantoft (about 282 km) in 1883. However, in June 1992 the church was burn down due to arson by the members of the early Norwegian black metal scene. It was rebuilt to replicate its original form and finished in 1997. Although it’s only a replica, it is a stunning example of early Norwegian art, design and heritage.
By car it only takes about 15 minutes from the centre of Bergen and a little longer from the Old Bergen Museum or during afternoon traffic. You can also take public transport here, just don’t expect a cafe, gift shop or toilets. When you arrive there is a small car park and a steep pathway into the forest that leads you up to the Church. This is not a easy walk, so I don’t recommend taking small children, prams or the elderly. However it was a small enough distance that taking turns in visiting the church was fine for us. When we arrived up the top the church is surrounded by a barb wire fence and you can’t go inside the perimeter without paying a fee. However there is a viewing platform outside the perimeter, which is fine if you just want to see the architecture. I really wanted to see the inside of this church, so I paid the nice man who charging entry. He usually only takes cash but he did allow me to use card.
The Fantoft Stave Church is quite stunning both inside and out. The exterior dominates the landscape, as it is covered in shinny, black tar. The interior features many ancient norse styled wood carvings, including dragon heads. These are the same dragon heads which were featured on viking ships, which were believed to keep evil spirits away. The crucifix is the only original part of the church that survived the fire and has been restored to hang above the altar. Although the church is completely new inside it does give a good indication of what it would have looked like back when it was built. So if you were expecting something else, you may be quite surprised when you visit. I am happy we made the trip to see this church, so if you have the time and interest it is worth the visit.
Our last tourist stop for the day was Mt Fløyen. We decide this was the best to do in the late afternoon, since all the other attractions would be closed, its wasn’t busy and we would still have daylight. To get up to Fløyen we took the Fløibanen funicular, which is in the centre of Bergen (about 10mins from Bryggen). This journey takes about 5-8 minutes and takes you 320 m above sea level. It is opens 7:30/8am until 11pm, so it’s an easy attraction to include in your itinerary and has a relatively cheap fee. There are many activities you can do up there, as well as a shop, restaurant, hot dog stand an amazing viewing platform and great playground for kids.
Once we got up to Mt Fløyen the first thing we did was check out the amazing views of Bergen. It’s not hard to see why its one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations. From this vantage point you can see the centre of Bergen, the North Sea, nearby islands and the countryside. If you look down on the cliff you will find the Kashmir goats aka the Fløyenguttene (The Fløyen Boys). These goats are very important as they help shape the landscape and maintain the view. They keep the scenery open, by eating the vegetation. They are kept without a fence and so they equip with Nofence grazing technology. It is a solar-powered collar that has GPS, communicates via a mobile network and deters the goat from wandering too far.
Next we explored a little and let Octavia had a play. Marco had a hotdog from Pølseboden, which looked pretty good. I explored the Trollskogen (Troll forest).
Afterward coming back down on the funicular we walked down into Bergen centre to a great little restaurant. Pingvinen an intimate restaurant/bar, which offers traditional and affordable Norwegian fare (not cheap). You can also come in for a late diner, since they are open until 3am. They are quite a busy restaurant so I recommend booking. We were lucky enough to get a table, but many people did get turned away.
We ordered a couple of dishes to share, since we weren’t overly hungry. Marco ordered the Kjøttboller (Meatballs), which came with mushy peas, potatoes, carrots, gravy and lingonberry jam. I ordered the Fiskegrateng (Gratinated Fish Pie), which is fish and macaroni casserole, served iwth potatoes, carrot salad and melted butter. Both dishes were very fresh, cooked well and delicious.
After dinner we took in the scenic walk back to our apartment. I didn’t have to much time to linger, since someone was trolling for icecream, but I did see a few statues.
Return for lunch…
Before I finish this post about Bergen I wanted to include this last bite we had here a few days later. We had to return to Bergen after our road trip to go the airport, so we dropped into this Norwegian fast food store that I really wanted to try a few days earlier but wasn’t open. Søstrene Hagelin is a historic fish shop that offers fiskkaker (fish cakes), fiskesupper (fish soups), fiskpudding (fish pudding) and more. It was actually opened in 1929 by two sisters, Elna and Gudrun Hagelin from Nedre Stedje Farm. They began by selling their homemade fish dishes, that were so popular that even King Olav would sent for fishcakes. The store today still uses the same traditional recipes, which is why its still so popular.
For me fishcakes and fishy products sound really delicious. For Marco not so much. He was a little worried but waited at the car to see what I came back with. There were plenty of different dishes, but I thought the fish burgers sounded the best. There were four different types of fish cakes (with cheese, bacon etc) to choose from and four types of burgers (fillings). I ordered the Steinbitburger with the plain fish cakes. They also had inside some sweet pickled red onion, cucumber, lettuce and some kind of white sauce. This were the most delicious fish burgers we have ever had. The sweet red onion and sauce really complimented the fish cake, which was nice and spongy and the burger bun itself was fresh and soft. Marco loved it too and we could of eaten five more.
So that brings us to the end of my visit to Bergen. If you missed my last post, which covered the centre of Bergen and first half of our day see: Bergen: historic trader town (part 1). Next, I will be taking you on my Norwegian road trip, so stay tuned!