Bergen Coat of Arms
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, with a population of 252 051 as of January 1, 2009. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Economic Region, as defined by Statistics Norway, had a population of 385 450 as of January 1, 2009.
Bergen is located in the county of Hordaland on the south-western coast of Norway. Its city centre is situated among a group of mountains known as ‘De syv fjell’ (lit. The Seven Mountains), although which mountains these are is a matter of definition. Bergen is an important cultural hub in its region and was one of nine European cities honored with the title of European Capital of Culture in 2000.
The main reason for Bergen's importance was the trade with dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast, which started around 1100 CE. By the late 1300s, Bergen had established itself as the center of the trade in Norway. The Saxon Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, where Middle Saxon (‘Middle Low German’) was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen that each summer sailed to Bergen. Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggen is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.
In 1349, the Black Death was inadvertently brought to Norway by the crew of an English ship arriving in Bergen. In the 15th century the city was several times attacked by the Victual Brothers, and in 1429 they succeeded in burning the royal castle and much of the city. In 1536, the King of the country was able to force the Saxon merchants to become Norwegian citizens, or else to return home, heralding a decline in the Saxon influence. In 1665, the city's harbor was the site of the Battle of Vågen, between English ships on the one side and Dutch ships supported by the city's garrison on the other.
Hieronymus Scholeus's impression of Bergen. The drawing was made in about 1580 and was published in an atlas with drawings of many different cities (Civitaes orbis terrarum).
In 1916, parts of the city center were destroyed by a devastating fire, the last of many such fires throughout the city's history. During World War II, Bergen was occupied on the first day of the German invasion on 9 April 1940, after a brief fight between German ships and the Norwegian coastal artillery. On 20 April 1944, during the German occupation, the Dutch cargo ship Voorbode anchored off the Bergenhus Fortress, loaded with over 120 tons of explosives, blew up, killing at least 150 people and damaging historic buildings. The city was subject to some Allied bombing raids, aiming at German naval installations in the harbor. Some of these caused Norwegian civilian casualties numbering about 100.
Bergen was separated from Hordaland as a county of its own in 1831. It was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The rural municipality of Bergen landdistrikt was merged with Bergen on 1 January 1877. The rural municipality of Årstad was merged with Bergen on 1 July 1915. The rural municipalities of Arna, Fana, Laksevåg, and Åsane were merged with Bergen on 1 January 1972. The city lost its status as a separate county on the same date. Bergen was Norway's largest city until the 1830s, when it was surpassed by the capital city of Oslo. Bergen is now a municipality in Norway, in the county of Hordaland.
In 1972, Bergen was unified with the neighboring municipalities, of Arna, Fana, Laksevåg, and Åsane, abolishing its county status and setting its present boundaries.
There are about one thousand names in Norway composed with the element -vin, which are pronounced with the second tone. The only exception is the name Bergen (which is pronounced with the first tone). The cause of this is probably the German influence in the city.
In 1918, there was a campaign to reintroduce the Norse form Bjørgvin as the name of the city. This was turned down - but as a compromise the name of the diocese was changed to Bjørgvin bispedømme.
The municipality covers an area of 465 km². The population is 244,620, making the population density 534 people per km². The population of the main urban area is 220,418. The municipality also contains eight minor urban settlements with a total population of 17,213, with Indre Arna, situated in the borough Arna, being the largest with a population of 6,151 as of 1 January 2007. Although not being geographically distant from the city centre, Arna is separated from it by mount Ulriken. Arna and the city centre are connected by a railway line; driving around Ulriken by way of Åsane to the north or Nesttun in Fana to the south is required if travelling by car or bus.
Bergen's city centre is situated among a group of mountains known collectively as de syv fjell (the seven mountains), including the mountains Ulriken, Fløyen, Løvstakken and Damsgårdsfjellet, as well as three of the following: Lyderhorn, Sandviksfjellet, Blåmanen, Rundemanen, and Askøyfjellet. The first to name them ‘the seven mountains’ might have been Ludvig Holberg, inspired by the seven hills of Rome. These seven mountains are, however, only a few of the mountains located within the borders of the Bergen municipality. Gullfjellet is the highest mountain in Bergen, at 987 metres above sea level.
Bergen borders the municipalities Meland, Lindås and Osterøy to the north, Vaksdal and Samnanger to the east, Os and Austevoll to the south, and Sund, Fjell and Askøy to the west.
The oldest part of Bergen is the area around the bay of Vågen in the city centre. Originally centered on the eastern side of the bay, Bergen eventually expanded west and southwards. Few buildings from the oldest period remain, the most significant being St Mary's Church from the 12th century. For several hundred years, the extent of the city remained almost constant. The population was stagnant, and the city limits were narrow. In 1702, 7/8 of the city burned. Most of the old buildings of Bergen, including Bryggen (which was rebuilt in a medieval style), were built after the fire. The fire marked a transition from tar covered houses, as well as the remaining log houses, to painted and some brick-covered wooden buildings.
Modern apartment buildings in Fyllingsdalen.
The last half of the 19th century was a period of rapid expansion and modernisation of the city. The fire of 1855 west of Torgallmenningen lead to the development of regularly sized city blocks in this area of the city centre. The city limits were expanded in 1876, and Nygård, Møhlenpris and Sandviken were urbanised with large-scale construction of city blocks housing both the poor and the wealthy. Their architecture is influenced by a variety of styles; historicism, classicism and Art Nouveau. The wealthy built villas between Møhlenpris and Nygård, and on the side of Fløyen, which had also been added to Bergen in 1876. Simultaneously, an urbanisation process was taking place in Solheimsviken in Årstad, at the time outside of Bergen municipality, centered around the large industrial activity in the area. The workers' homes in this area were poorly built, and little remains after large-scale redevelopment in the 1960s-1980s.
After Årstad became a part of Bergen in 1916, a development plan was applied to the new area. Few city blocks akin to those in Nygård and Møhlenpris were planned. Many of the worker class built their own homes, and many small, detached apartment buildings were built. After World War II, Bergen had again run short on land to build on, and, contrary to the original plans, many large apartment buildings were built in Landås in the 1950s and 1960s. Bergen acquired Fyllingsdalen from Fana municipality in 1955. Like similar areas in Oslo (e.g. Lambertseter), Fyllingsdalen was developed into a modern suburb with large apartment buildings, mid-rises, and some single-family homes, in the 1960s and 1970s. Similar developments took place outside of Bergen's city limits, for example in Loddefjord.
At the same time as planned city expansion took place inside Bergen, its extra-municipal suburbs too grew rapidly. Wealthy citizens of Bergen had been living in Fana since the 19th century, but as the city expanded it became more convenient to settle in the municipality. Similar processes took place in Åsane and Laksevåg. Most of the homes in these areas are detached row houses, single family homes or small apartment buildings. Since the surrounding municipalities were merged with Bergen in 1972, expansion has continued in largely the same manner, although the municipality encourages condensing near commercial centres, future Bergen Light Rail stations, and elsewhere.
As part of the modernisation wave of the 1950s and 1960s, and due to damages caused by World War II, the city government ambitiously developed redevelopment plans for many areas in central Bergen. The plans involved demolition of several neighbourhoods of wooden houses, namely Nordnes, Marken, and Stølen. None of the plans were carried out in their original form, the Marken and Stølen redevelopment plans discarded entirely and that of Nordnes only carried out in the area that had been most damaged by war. The city council of Bergen had in 1964 voted to demolish the enterity of Marken, however, the decision proved to be strongly controversial and the decision was reversed in 1974. Bryggen was under threat of being wholly or partly demolished after the fire of 1955, when over half of the buildings burned to the ground. Instead of being demolished, the remaining buildings were eventually restored and accompanied by reconstructions of some of the burned buildings. Demolition of old buildings and occasionally whole city blocks is still taking place, the most recent major example being the razing of Jonsvollskvartalet at Nøstet.
Panorama of the Hanseatic buildings of Bryggen
The 2007 city council elections were held on 10 September. The Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Pensioners Party (PP) ended up as the losers of the election, SV going from 11.6% of the votes in the 2003 elections to 7.1%, and PP losing 2.9% ending up at 1.2%. The Liberal Party more than doubled, going from 2.7% to 5.8%. The Conservative Party lost 1.1% of the votes, ending up at 26.3%, while the Progress Party got 20.2% of the votes, a gain of 3% since the 2003 elections. The Christian Democratic Party gained 0.2%, ending up at 6.3%. The Red Electoral Alliance lost 1.4%, ending up at 4.5%, while the Centre Party gained 1.2%, ending up at 2.8%. Finally, the Labour Party continued being the second largest party in the city, gaining one percent and ending up at 23.9%.
The high precipitation is often used in the marketing of the city, and figures to a degree on postcards sold in the city. For a period of time there were umbrella vending machines in the city, but these did not turn out to be a success.
Another effect of recent years' weather conditions in the area is that Norwegians increasingly believe that climate change is a threat.
Bergen University College (Norwegian: Høgskolen i Bergen) is one of 24 state-owned university colleges in Norway. As of 2007, it has approximately 6,000 students and 600 staff. The university college offers studies directed towards specific professions. The college is organised in 3 faculties: the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.
The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (Norwegian: Norges Handelshøyskole) is a leading school of business and economics in Norway. Finn E. Kydland, the most recent (2004) of three Norwegian laureates of the Economy Nobel Prize, has studied and lectured at the school. The school has approximately 2,700 students and 350 staff. As the result of a resolution passed by the Norwegian storting in 1917, the school was founded in 1936 as the first business school in Norway. As of 2007, the school's MSc programme is ranked by the Financial Times as the 36th best in Europe.
The Bergen School of Architecture (Bergen Arkitekt Skole), founded in 1986 by architect Svein Hatløy, has alternative programs, with graduants like 3RW arkitekter and Tommie Wilhemsen.
The Bergen National Academy of the Arts (Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen, approximately 300 students and 100 staff) is one of the two independent institutions of higher learning in the visual arts and design in Norway. Students can take a three-year Bachelor degree and a two-year Master degree in the following areas: Visual Art, Interior Architecture, Furniture Design, Room Design, Visual Communications, Photography, Printmaking, Ceramics and Textiles.
The Naval Academy (Sjøkrigsskolen) of the Royal Norwegian Navy is located at Laksevåg in Bergen.
Primary and secondary education
There are 64 elementary schools, 18 lower secondary schools and 20 upper secondary schools in Bergen, as well as 11 combined elementary/lower secondary schools.
Bergen Katedralskole (Latin: Scholae Bergensis Cathedralis) is believed to have been founded in 1153 by Pope Adrian IV (then known as Nicholas Breakspear), thus making it Bergen's oldest school and one of the oldest schools in Norway. The school moved to its present location in 1840, and the old building was left mostly unused until the School Museum of Bergen moved into the building in 2003. Since 1972 the school is a regular upper secondary school (similar to a high school in the United States and the United Kingdom).
In 2006, Bergen Handelsgymnasium, an upper secondary school in Bergen, was chosen as a finalist in the The Holberg Prize School Project.
The Chr. Michelsen Institute (Christian Michelsens Institutt), founded in 1930, is located in Bergen. With an annual turnover of 56 million NOK, it is one of Scandinavia's largest independent research institutes on human rights and development issues. The aim of CMI is to inform and influence policy on international development issues.
The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (Norwegian: Havforskningsinstituttet), formerly known as Norwegian Fisheries Investigations (Norwegian: Norske Fiskeriundersøgelser) has been located in Bergen since 1900. The primary responsibility of the institute is to provide advice to national authorities, society and industry regarding questions related to the ecosystems of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea and the Norwegian coastal zone and in the field of aquaculture. The institute has a staff of 700, making it the largest marine research institution in Norway.
UNIFOB AS is a non-profit research organisation affiliated to the University of Bergen. Unifob conducts research and associated activities across all the scientific fields covered by the university departments, including Petroleum, Health, Computational Science, Marine Molecular Biology.
Bergen's inter-municipal harbour is by far Norway's largest port and one of Europe's largest ports, according to the inter-municipal company Port of Bergen.
In August 2004, Time magazine named the city one of Europe's 14 ‘secret capitals’ where Bergen's capital reign is acknowledged within maritime businesses and activities such as aquaculture and marine research, with the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) (the second-largest in Europe) as the leading institution. Bergen is the main base for the Royal Norwegian Navy (at Haakonsvern) and its international airport Flesland is the main heliport for the huge Norwegian North Sea oil and gas industry, from where thousands of offshore workers commute to their work places onboard oil and gas rigs and platforms.
The headquarters of TV 2 Norway's largest commercial television channel are located in Bergen.
One of Norway's largest shopping malls Lagunen Storsenter is located in Fana in Bergen, with a turnover of 2 540 billion Norwegian kroner, and 5.2 million visitors every year.
Tourism is an important income source for the city. The hotels in the city may be full at times, due to the increasing number of tourists and conferences. Prior to the Rolling Stones concert in September 2006, many hotels were already full-booked several months in advance. Bergen is recognised as the unofficial capital of the region known as West Norway, and recognised and marketed as the gateway city to the world famous fjords of Norway and for that reason it has become Norway's largest - and one of Europe's largest - cruise ship ports of call.
Bergen has an international airport, Bergen Airport, Flesland, with direct flights to several European cities. The Bergensbanen railway line runs east to Voss, Geilo, Hønefoss and Oslo.
The E39 road passes through the city, connecting to Trondheim and Stavanger. The E16 road to Oslo passes through the Lærdalstunnelen, the longest road tunnel in the world. Bergen was the first city in Northern Europe to introduce a ring of toll roads entirely surrounding the city, making entering the city centre by car impossible without paying the toll. The toll road system, established to fund new roads and motorways, opened 2 January 1986.
The toll was collected by both toll plazas and an electronic toll collection system. In the early 2000s, the electronic toll collection system AutoPASS was introduced, replacing both the remaining toll plazas and the existing but dated electronic toll collection system.
Public transportation is provided by the transportation company Tide, the result of a merger between Gaia and HSD. Among the fleet of buses are 8 trolleybuses (two of which are dual-mode buses). Local train transport to Arna is provided by Norges Statsbaner. There is a funicular (Fløibanen) and an aerial tramway (Ulriksbanen). The city's tram system was closed in 1965, although a museum line still operates on Møhlenpris. The construction of a modern light rail line connecting the city centre with Nesttun and Bergen Airport has been approved by Stortinget and is underway. Express buses go to all larger destinations in Norway.
The Norwegian coastal steamer service Hurtigruten originates in Bergen, running north to Trondheim, Bodø, Tromsø and Kirkenes. Passenger catamarans run from Bergen south to Haugesund and Stavanger, and north to Sognefjorden and Nordfjord. Car ferries connect to Hanstholm, and Hirtshals in Denmark, Lerwick, Scrabster, Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands, and Seyðisfjörður in Iceland. The service from Newcastle in the United Kingdom was cancelled after September 1, 2008.
Culture and sports
There are numerous amateur bands in Bergen and the surrounding communities, performing regularly throughout the city. They generally fall within two distinct categories: brass bands, following the British band tradition, and Janitsjar or wind bands, which include both woodwind and brass instruments. Both of these types of bands tend to be quite competitive, and the Grieg Hall in Bergen is home to the annual Norwegian Brass Band Championships, which takes place in late winter.
A third category, perhaps unique to Bergen, are the Buekorps, a prominent feature in the Constitution Day celebrations in the city. Buekorps parade in the streets with wooden sticks shaped as guns or crossbows, sabres and even halberds, to a military snare sounded by several drummers. The performers are usually boys between 7 and 21 years of age, but older veterans can be seen. In recent times there are buekorps for girls and for both girls and boys as well. Buekorps are regarded with warmth by some, whilst others dislike them due to their militarised appearance or the dominant sound of the drumming.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s several pop, rock and black metal artists from Bergen became famous, at home as well as abroad. Many of these were connected to the small record label Tellé Records. In the domestic press this became known as the Bergen Wave.
Bergen has a small but thriving scene for contemporary art, most notably centered around BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen Kunsthall, United Sardines Factory (USF) and Bergen Center for Electronic Arts (BEK).
With circulations of 87,076 and 30,719 in 2006,) Bergens Tidende and Bergensavisen are the two largest newspapers in Bergen. Bergens Tidende has won three European Newspaper Awards, in 2006 for best designed regional newspaper, in 2004 for best designed weekly newspaper, and in 2002 for best designed regional newspaper. The city is also the home of several smaller newspapers and publications, including Fanaposten (circulation of 4,062), a local newspaper for Fana, Bygdanytt in Arna, and the Christian newspaper Dagen (circulation of 8,936).
Although Brann is one of the largest teams in Norway, the team has had limited success in the Premier League and the cup. They have won the cup six times, most recently in 2004. Brann won the Premier League in 1961/62 and then in 1963. The 1963 title was directly followed by the relegation of the team into the Second Division (today known as Adeccoligaen, the second highest level of Norwegian football). The team has won several silver and bronze medals since, but didn't win the league again until the 2007 season. Despite, or perhaps because of the lack of league titles, the team is met with high expectations from the national and local press and the inhabitants of Bergen every year.
Foreigners, such as the Low German speaking merchants of the Hanseatic League who lived in Bergen in the period from about 1350 to 1750, have had a profound impact on the dialect. Bergen being the major Norwegian city during the Dano-Norwegian union from 1536 to 1814 led to Bergensk absorbing more of the Danish than other Norwegian dialects. Many, but not all, influences from these languages since spread from Bergen to parts of or the whole of Norway.
The female grammatical gender disappeared from Bergensk in the 16th century, probably as a result of influences from Danish, making the city's dialect one of the very few in Norway with only two grammatical genders. All others, excepting sociolects in other Norwegian cities, have three. The Rs are uvular trills, as in French, which probably spread to Bergen (and Kristiansand) some time in the 18th century, overtaking the alveolar trill in the time span of 2 to 3 generations. Owing to an improved literacy rate, Bergensk was influenced by riksmål and bokmål in the 19th and 20th centuries. This led to large parts of the German-inspired vocabulary disappearing and pronunciations shifting slightly towards East Norwegian.
Hordaland Coat of Arms
Hordaland is a county in Norway, bordering Sogn og Fjordane, Buskerud, Telemark, and Rogaland. Hordaland is the third largest county after Akershus and Oslo by population. The county administration is located in Bergen. Before 1972, the city of Bergen was its own separate county apart from Hordaland.
The name Hordaland
Until 1919 the name of the county was Søndre Bergenhus amt which meant '(the) southern (part of) Bergenhus amt'. (The old Bergenhus amt was created in 1662 and was divided in 1763.)
The coat-of-arms were officially granted on 1 December 1961. They were designed by Magnus Hardeland, but the general design had been originally used in the Sunnhordland region during the 14th century. In the early 20th century, leaders of the county began using the old arms as a symbol for the county once again. The arms are on a red background and consist of two golden axes that are crossed with a golden crown above them.
In 1662, the len were replaced by amts. Bergenhus amt consisted of Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Sunnmøre, Troms, and Nordland. In 1763, the amt was divided into northern and southern parts: Nordre Bergenhus amt and Søndre Bergenhus amt. Søndre Bergenhus amt was re-named Hordaland fylke in 1919.
The city of Bergen was classified as a city-county (byamt) from 1831-1972. During that time in 1915, the municipality of Årstad was annexed into Bergen. In 1972, the neighboring municipalities of Arna, Fana, Laksevåg, and Åsane were annexed into the city of Bergen. Also at that same time, the city of Bergen lost its county status, and became a part of Hordaland county.
The county also has a County Governor (fylkesmann) who is the representative of the King and Government of Norway. Svein Alsaker has been the County Governor of Hordaland since 1998.
The municipalities in Hordaland are divided among four district courts (tingrett): Nordhordland, Sunnhordland, Bergen, and Hardanger. Hordaland is also part of the Gulating Court of Appeal district based in Bergen.
* Nordhordland District Court: Askøy, Austevoll, Austrheim, Fedje, Fjell, Fusa, Lindås, Masfjorden, Meland, Modalen, Os, Osterøy, Radøy, Samnanger, Sund, Vaksdal, Voss, Øygarden and Gulen
Most of the municipalities in Hordaland are part of the Hordaland police district. Gulen and Solund in Sogn og Fjordane county are also part of the Hordaland police district. Bømlo, Etne, Fitjar, Stord, and Sveio are a part of the 'Haugaland and Sunnhordland' police district, along with eight other municipalities in Rogaland county.
More than 60% of the inhabitants live in Bergen and the surrounding area. Other urban or semi-urban centres include Leirvik, Voss and Odda.
Municipalities of Hordaland
Hordaland is conventionally divided into traditional districts. The inland districts are Hardanger and Voss and the coastal districts are Sunnhordland, Midhordland, and Nordhordland. Strilelandet is the name of a more informal region commonly held to encompass Midhordland and Nordhordland. Stril is a name the inhabitants of Bergen apply to the people living in the traditionally agricultural areas surrounding the city.
Famous people from Hordaland
Basse-Normandie, France; Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom; Kaunas, Lithuania; Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom
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