The very first buildings in Bergen were alongside the harbour called Bryggen. Bryggen has been the nerve centre of the city for hundreds of years and the silhouette of its ancient gables is perhaps the most familiar image in all of Norway.
In 1360 the Hansas - a German guild of merchants - set up one of their import/export offices on Bryggen and dominated trade for the next 400 years.
Many times Bryggen has been devastated by fire, and the Great Fire of 1702 reduced the whole city to ashes. But Bryggen was quickly re-built on top of foundations that had been here since the 11th century.
Bryggen is now on UNESCO's World Heritage List and the city of Bergen is a designated World Heritage City.
The meander through Bryggen's narrow alleyways made even darker and more mysterious by overhanging balconies, is a step back into a time hardley touched by the passage of centuries. Although 61 og Bryggen's buildings are preserved and protected they are not a museum. Bryggen's spectacular wooden architecture shelter a living community of shops and offices; artists' studios, crafts-people's workshops, and restaurants.
Bryggens Museum, in a beautiful modern building, houses the extensive medieval finds excavated nearby, and the Hanseatic Museum is in one of the old Hansa buildings and illustrates the life of a 18th century merchant. Putting all of these aspects together, you have an unmissable chance to experience life on Bryggen stretching from time immemorial to the present today.