The city of Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains and is based
around its harbour. In the Bergenhus district there are
well-preserved medieval buildings. On the other side of the harbour
is the Klosteret area, which has beautiful 18th century wooden
houses and charming alleys, where you can take a stroll out to the
Nordnes peninsula. The city centre extends from the main square
(Torget) to the Nygård area, where most of the shops and
restaurants can be found. In the Middle Ages, Bergen was the
largest city in Scandinavia and it wasn't until the 1830s that it
was overtaken by Oslo.
Bergen retains its status as an important port city. Bergen was
involved in trade with countries all over Europe and was awarded
its city charter as long ago as 1070, by King Olav Kyrre. Contacts
with the Hanseatic League allowed Bergen to export fish and import
crucial supplies of grain. In the harbour, which is called Vågen,
you can still see parts of the Bryggen, the old Hanseatic Wharf.
The old wooden buildings are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and
have been damaged by fire several times.