A Travellerspoint blog

Day 16 - Bergen, Norway

Fantoft Stave Church, Grieg Home and Theater, Scenic Cruise

rain 65 °F
View Judy & Jerry's British Isles Exploration on longjerr's travel map.

From the Shetlands, we sailed East to Bergen, Norway. It rains 257 days a year in Bergen, and it was raining when we arrived. Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, and you will see that many of the neighborhoods are built up the sides of the mountains. Like the Shetlands and Orkneys, the climate is moderated by the south-flowing Gulfstream. As a result, they do not get a lot of snow except up in the mountains. However, the effect of the Gulfstream hitting the mountains is to create a rainforest.

Our morning tour was to Fantoft to see the Stavkirke (Stave Church) and the home of composer Edvard Grieg. The Stavkirke is set in a wooded park, up a path through the trees. It is believed to be one of the earliest churches in Norway, originally built around 1150. It is built solely of wood, and it burned down at least once. "Stave church" refers to the method of construction. Columns made from whole pine trees were anchored in the ground, rather than built on a foundation, and the church was built around them. This is what we would call a "pole building" today. Note also the stone cross in a separate picture. It is believed to date back to the time before churches were built in Norway.

Fantoft Stave Church Exterior

Fantoft Stave Church Exterior

Fantoft Stave Church Interior

Fantoft Stave Church Interior

Ancient Stone Cross

Ancient Stone Cross

Next on our tour was Troldhaugen, the summer home of composer Edvard Grieg. A young pianist provided a 30-minute concert of short works by Grieg in the Grieg Theater, which we loved! Note the pictures of the interior and exterior of the Theater.

Grieg Theater Interior

Grieg Theater Interior

Grieg Theater Exterior

Grieg Theater Exterior

After the concert, we walked to the nearby home and toured the interior. Interestingly, the interior of the house was all unfinished natural pine. Floor, walls, and ceiling. I guess the benefit of this is that no refinishing would be needed! Note the view from the front of the house of City Fjord and several islands. It's easy to see why he built the house where he did.

Troldhaugen - Edvard Grieg's Summer Home

Troldhaugen - Edvard Grieg's Summer Home

View from Troldhaugen

View from Troldhaugen

After lunch back on the ship, we took a scenic cruise of the fjord and harbor. Bergen is a city of about 300,000 built around the fjord. It is the second largest city in Norway, and it served as the capitol for most of Norway's history. The folds of the mountains divide it into distinct neighborhoods. The predominant construction material is wood, painted in bright colors that pop out against the gray skies. It's no surprise that there have been at least 40 major fires in Bergen's history.

The buildings in Warehouse Row date back to the 1220s. These warehouses were used to store dried cod for shipment to lower Europe and the Hanseatic League. The dried cod was traded for corn and other grains. The Catholics in Southern Europe needed the fish for Fridays and other meatless periods in the church calendar. The cod was caught in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, taken back to Bergen, and dried to preserve it. Once dried, the fish could be stored for several years.

Our takeaway was that Bergen is an interesting, vibrant, and beautiful city. It would have been nice to have more time to explore it.

Scene from Bergen Fjord

Scene from Bergen Fjord

Warehouse Row (Ancient Wooden Houses)

Warehouse Row (Ancient Wooden Houses)

Scene from Fjord

Scene from Fjord

Bergen Fjord Scene

Bergen Fjord Scene

Downtown End of City Fjord

Downtown End of City Fjord

Posted by longjerr 16:35 Archived in Norway

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