A fairy-tale village setting is what travelers would be reminded of upon setting foot at Bryggen, where a parallel row of gabled-roof, multi-colored wooden buildings stands out facing the harbor front of the city of Bergen in Norway. These buildings are nearly 900 years old and count among those under the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The structures were of Hanseatic origin. They were built at the height of the influence of an alliance of trading cities called the Hanseatic League which monopolized trade along the Northern European coast. The structures are in fact former commercial buildings and warehouses at the time when the Bergen harbor was a flourishing trading center.
At present, Bryggen is one of the tourist attractions at the city of Bergen. Fire razed some of parts of the city’s historic wharf district in 1995, but a museum has been constructed at that area to house the priceless artifacts that were saved. A hotel has also been constructed to complement the other tourist facilities already in place such as souvenir gift shops, pubs and restaurants. Painters, artisans and weavers have also established their presence in the area to provide tourists a sampling of original Norwegian craftsmanship. During summer, guider tours are available.
The wharf is just within walking distance from the central district of Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, and a tourist who may need to ask for directions will have to master only two Norwegian words. One of course is Bryggen and the other is Vaagen. In the Norwegian language, the port would be Vaagen, and by just saying it, a native could readily understand that one wants to be directed to the world-famous waterfront. There won’t be much difficulty either traveling to Bergen as the city has an international airport with direct flight connections to European, American and Asian cities.