Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bergenhus fortress an castle

- a monument from the Golden Age of Norwegian history

There are very few monuments that are preserved as well as the Bergenhus fortress and castle in Bergen. This impressive monument dates back to the period called Norgesveldet, the time when Norway and its possessions were at its greatest, including Iceland, Greenland, The Orkney's and the Faeroe Islands

It has been military buildings at Holmen for over 900 years, and the oldest parts of the present fortress dates back to 1240. It was the seat of Norwegian kings until 1299 when the capital of Norway was moved from Bergen to Oslo.

The building you see on the left is the Rosenkrantz tower, built in 1560 by the commander of the fortress Erik Rosenkrantz. It enclosed the old keep built by Magnus Lagabøter in 1270.

Håkonshallen - the large Hall at the Fortress

The most impressive structure on today's fortress is the hall built by king Håkon Håkonsson in the middle of the 13th century. This is by far the best preserved medieval hall in the country. There were, however, similar buildings at Hamar and at Akershus castle. The first is in ruins the second is restored in the late 19th century.

It has burned and decayed many times during its turbulent history. In 1266, and in 1429 it was burnt by German mercenaries, the "Victual brothers." Still it was what happened at April 20th 1944, that was the most dramatic episode in the halls 750 year history.

Then a dutch ship docked close to the fortress with 120 tons of dynamite on board, exploded and most of the wooden structure on the buildings caught fire. After the war ended restoration work was started to bring the old buildings back to how it had been.

The Hall is a magnificent building and the restoration work has managed to keep the medieval atmosphere. As you walk in you can admire the beautiful wooden ceiling and the beautiful Gothic windows.

Today it is used for concerts and official purposes. How magnificent it would be to be present at a banquet in such a room!!

It was my first visit there in June, and I will certainly return for another visit as I revisit Bergen. I will also recommend a visit to Bergenhus and get a glimpse of Norway's medieval past.

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