Bergen

Bergen
—    —
Bergen
From top to bottom: city centre, buekorps, Gamlehaugen, Bryggen and Fyllingsdalen


Coordinates: 60°23′22″N 5°19′48″E / 60.38944°N 5.33°E / 60.38944; 5.33
Country Norway
Municipality Bergen
County Hordaland
District Western Norway
Established 1070
Government
 - Mayor Gunnar Bakke
Area
 - City  dunams (465 km2 / 
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 sq mi)
 - Urban
 - Metro
Population (2010)
 - City 263400
 Density
 Urban 239300
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 Metro 390200
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Demonym Bergenser
Ethnic groups[1]
 - Norwegians 89.4%
 - Poles 1.2%
 - Iraqis 0.6%
 - Vietnamese 0.5%
 - Chilean 0.4%
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Twin Cities
 - Asmara Eritrea
 - Gothenburg Sweden
 - Newcastle upon Tyne United Kingdom
 - Seattle United States
 - Turku Finland
 - Aarhus Denmark
Website http://www.bergen.kommune.no

Bergen () is the second largest city in Norway with a population of 263400 as of November 21, 2011.[2] Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of 390200 as of November 21, 2011.[3]

Bergen is located in the county of Hordaland on the south-western coast of Norway. It is an important cultural hub in its region, recognized as the unofficial capital of Western Norway and sometimes also referred to as the Atlantic coast capital of Norway. The city was one of nine European cities honoured with the title of European Capital of Culture in the Millennium year.[4]

History

The city of Bergen, traditionally thought to have been founded by king Olav Kyrre, son of Harald Hardråde in 1070 AD,[5] four years after the Viking Age ended. Modern research has, however, discovered that a trading settlement was established already during the 1020s or 1030s.[6] It is considered to have replaced Trondheim as Norway's capital in 1217, and that Oslo became the de jure capital in 1299. Towards the end of the 13th century, Bergen became one of the Hanseatic League's most important bureau cities.[7]

The main reason for Bergen's importance was the trade with dried cod from the northern Norwegian coast,[8] which started around 1100. By the late 14th century, Bergen had established itself as the centre of the trade in Norway.[9] The Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of town, where Middle Saxon was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen that each summer sailed to Bergen.[10] Today, Bergen's old quayside, Bryggen is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Site.[11]

The city has throughout its history been plagued with numerous great city fires. In 1198, the Bagler-faction set fire on the city in connection with a battle against the Birkebeiner faction during the civil war. In 1248, Holmen and Sverresborg burned, and 11 churches were destroyed. In 1413 another fire struck the city, and 14 churches were destroyed. In 1428 the city was plundered by pirates on a mission for the Hanseatic League, the same who was responsible for burning down Munkeliv Abbey in 1455. In 1476, Bryggen burned down in a fire started by a drunk trader. In 1582, another fire hit the city centre and Strandsiden. In 1675, 105 buildings burned down in Øvregaten. In 1686 a new great fire hit Strandsiden, destroying 231 city blocks and 218 boathouses. The greatest fire to date happened in 1702 when 90 percent of the city was burned to ashes. In 1751, there was a great fire at Vågsbunnen. In 1756, a new fire at Strandsiden burned down 1,500 buildings, and further great fires hit Strandsiden in 1771 and 1901. In 1916, 300 buildings burned down in the city centre, and in 1955 parts of Bryggen burned down.

In 1349, the Black Death was inadvertently brought to Norway by the crew of an English ship arriving in Bergen.[12] In the 15th century, the city was several times attacked by the Victual Brothers,[13] 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 harbour 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.

Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, Bergen remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia, and was Norway's biggest city until the 1830s,[14] when the capital city of Oslo became the largest. Bergen retained its monopoly of trade with Northern Norway until 1789.[15]

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 harbour. Some of these caused Norwegian civilian casualties numbering about 100.

Bergen was separated from Hordaland as a county of its own in 1831.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] Bergen is now a municipality in Norway, in the county of Hordaland.

In 1972, Bergen was unified with the neighbouring municipalities, of Arna, Fana, Laksevåg, and Åsane, abolishing its county status and setting its present boundaries.[18]

Toponymy

The Old Norse forms of the name were Bergvin and Bjørgvin (and in Icelandic and Faroese the city is still called Björgvin). The first element is berg (n) or bjørg (f), which translates to mountain. The last element is vin (f), which means a new settlement where there used to be a pasture or meadow. The full meaning is then 'the meadow among the mountains'.[19] A suitable name: Bergen is often called 'the city among the seven mountains'. It was the playwright Ludvig Holberg who felt so inspired by the seven hills of Rome, that he decided that his home town must be blessed with a corresponding seven mountains - and locals still argue which seven they are.

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.[20]

Geography

Bergen municipality occupies the majority of the Bergen peninsula in mid-western Hordaland. It is sheltered from the North Sea by the islands Askøy, Holsnøy (the municipality of Meland) and Sotra (the municipalities of Fjell and Sund).

The municipality covers an area of 465 km2. The population is 256,580[21] making the population density 551 people per km2. The population of the main urban area is 220,418.[22] The municipality also contains eight minor urban settlements with a total population of 17,213,[22] with Indre Arna, situated in the borough Arna, being the largest with a population of 6,151 as of 1 January 2007.[22]

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,[23] 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.[24]

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.

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