Bergen is a city and municipality in Hordaland on the west coast of Norway. As of 13 February 2013, the municipality had a population of 268,100 and Greater Bergen had a population of 394,300, making Bergen the second-largest city in Norway. The municipality covers an area of 465 square kilometers (180 sq mi) and is located on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. The city center and northern neighborhoods are located on Byfjorden and the city is surrounded by mountains, traditionally held to be seven mountains. Many of the extra-municipal suburbs are located on islands.
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 1665, the city's harbour was the site of the Battle of Vågen, where an English naval flotilla attacked a Dutch merchant and treasure fleet supported by the city's garrison.
Bergen was separated from Hordaland as a county of its own in 1831. It was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838. 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 is now a municipality in Norway, in the county of Hordaland.
Waiters and other restaurant staff have good wages. You are not required to leave any money to cover the service, but many people choose to tip the waiter if he or she has been helpful and nice, and if the food was good. If you choose to leave a tip, rounding up or adding about five to ten percent will be appreciated. A rule of thumb would be that the more expensive the food is, the more are you expected to leave a tip.
Keep in mind that tap water is safe to drink and (usually) free of charge. To save money, ask for tap water to drink.
Finding local food might take some effort, but there are some options. There aren't that many local dishes available at restaurants. "Norwegian" food is the food of the husmann (cottager) – nutritious and cheap, not what you usually find in a restaurant. The Bergen fish soup might be the most important, as well as raspeballer and cooked cod. If you want to get that Norwegian taste and have a gourmet meal at the same time, look for dishes that use "local" ingredients (such as reindeer, stockfish and cod) with a twist, such as Bryggen Tracteursted's filet of reindeer farced with goat cheese.
In November, December and January, traditional Christmas food is served in many restaurants. Look for "pinnekjøtt" (cured, dried and sometimes smoked meat of lamb or mutton), "lutefisk" (lit. "lye fish", dried cod prepared with lye) and "ribbe" (oven-baked pork ribs). For a very special experience, try smalahove (sheep's head). It is a traditional dish from Voss not far from Bergen.
Remember that smoking in all indoor areas where people work is strictly prohibited by law in Norway. Most restaurants, bars, night clubs etc. will require you to leave if you try to smoke indoors.
Drinking in public is illegal. Emptying a can in front of a police officer on a Saturday night will earn you a kr. 2500 fine. If you stroll through a park a bit outside the city center on a sunny day you will still see a lot of people having a beer or a glass of wine with the picnic. The police usually won't mind as long as everything passes in an orderly fashion.
- Bergen Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Bjørgvin in the Church of Norway, the first recorded reference to it is dated 1181. It retains its ancient dedication to St Olaf. During the reign of king Haakon IV of Norway, a Franciscan friary was established near the church, then known as Olavskirken, or the church of Saint Olaf, which was incorporated in it. The church burned down in 1248 and again in 1270, but was reconstructed after both fires. In 1463, it burned down again, but this time it was not reconstructed until the 1550s, despite being declared the cathedral in 1537. After the fires of 1623 and 1640, Bergen Cathedral received its current general appearance. The steeple on the nave was torn down, and the current tower was built. During the renovation in the 1880s by architect Christian Christie, the Rococo interior was replaced to give the interiors back their former medieval appearance. A cannonball from the 1665 Battle of Vågen between the English and Dutch fleets remains embedded in the cathedral's exterior wall.
- St. John's Church is located on Sydneshaugen in the neighbourhood of Sydnes in Bergen. St John's was built between 1891 and 1894 in the Gothic Revival style. With 1250 seats, it is the largest church in Bergen. In 1888, an architectural contest was conducted for the design of a new church. It was built from drawings by architect, Herman Major Backer (1856–1932). The frescoes in the Church's ceiling date from 1924 and were completed by Hugo Lous Mohr (1889-1970). The building process was first lead by architect Adolf Fischer and from 1891 by Hans Heinrich Jess. The church was consecrated in 1894. The altarpiece depicts Christ in prayer and was designed in 1894 by Marcus Grønvold. The church tower is the highest in the city at 61 metres.
- Bryggens musem After the fire in 1955, when a lot of Bryggen burnt down, remains of the first settlement on Bryggen were discovered. The museum is built over these up to 900 years old wooden building foundations, giving a unique insight in Bryggen's architectural history. It contains the world's largest collection of medieval runic inscriptions, mostly inscribed on wooden items, but only a small number of these are on display. It also hosts themed exhibitions.
- Gamlehaugen The villa at Gamlehaugen, built to resemble a castle, was the home of Christian Michelsen, former prime minister who helped free Norway from the Swedish rule through the peaceful dissolution of the "union" in 1905. Nowadays, the villa is the royal family's residence in Bergen. There is a large and very popular park around the villa.
- Bergenhus fortress Once the seat of the king, Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved forts of Norway. The oldest surviving buildings are from the mid 13th century, but the area was a royal residence from the late 11th century. The fortress is situated close to the international ferry terminal. The royal hall, Håkonshallen, (Haakon's Hall), named for King Haakon Haakonsson, was built some time between 1247 and 1261. It is used today for royal galas, as a banqueting hall for the city council, and other public events.