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Bergen, Norway

May 17, 2017 - National Geographic Orion

If one could choose any day to be in Bergen, it would surely be today – May 17 – Norway’s National Day. Celebrating its status as an independent country from Denmark and then from Sweden, the population, men, women, children, were all out on the streets in their national costume, the women gaily attired in their long black skirts, white aprons, ornate red bodices and traditional jewelry.

Bergen looked her best today in the warm spring sunshine, bedecked for the occasion in red, white and blue flags. The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Bryggen, historic wooden waterfront buildings of the Hansa merchants, established in the fourteenth century in the aftermath of the Black Death, was fascinating to explore, with its narrow alleyways and intriguing nooks. The Hansa Museum, housed in the oldest surviving section, told the story of the centuries-old trade in cod from Arctic waters to the tables of Europe which created the wealth of Bergen.

Further out of town is Edvard Greig’s house of Troldhaugen where he spent the latter part of his life with his wife Nina. He composed much of his greatly loved music here, in an idyllic and tranquil setting overlooking a lake. Also nearby is the Fantoft stave church, a reminder of Norway’s Viking origins. It was first built around 1140 AD when the new Christian faith was being established in the kingdom, incorporating many motifs representing the old beliefs in its woodwork. It was more recently moved to its present location in a wooded glade,where it has been lovingly rebuilt after a tragic fire.  Its massive timbers and dragon carvings transport the visitor back to a different age.

The National Geographic Orion welcomes our new shipmates on board, and we look forward to explorations awaiting us in coastal Norway and Svalbard.&

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About the Author

  • Carol Knott Historian

    Carol studied medieval history at the University of Glasgow, her native city. She spent many years as an archaeologist in the southeast of England, specializing in medieval ceramics and the conservation of historic houses and gardens. Since 1988 she has lived in a crofting village on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, working as a freelance archaeologist developing the islands’ archaeological and cultural tourism resources.