Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre. The town was favorably situated in relation to shipping traffic and was for a long time the country’s most important commercial, shipping and industrial town. Moreover, Bergen became a commercial and shipping town of European significance and for a while, during the Middle Ages, Bergen was also the largest of all the towns in the Nordic countries. Bergen is the only town in the whole of Scandinavia which has followed a classical European pattern of development. In the twelfth century the economic boom broke through in Lubeck, which was the first town on the Baltic to become a centre for international commerce. After a while, the town also influenced circumstances in Bergen which now became the natural geographical and economic centre for the maritime empire known as the Might of Norway. Trading from the north with import of grain and export of fish laid the foundation for growth during the first centuries.
From the fourteenth century and onwards for several centuries, the Hanseatic merchants dominated trade. The Hanseatic merchants established one of their four most important trading stations in Bergen, the German Office on the Wharf. In the period from the last half of the nineteenth century until the First World War, there was strong growth in trade and industry resulting in an increase in population; from 17,000 inhabitants in 1855 to 103,500 inhabitants in 1920 (Bergen Town). It was not until the beginning of the 1830s that the population of Oslo exceeded Bergen in number. The town has fallen prey to conflagrations throughout its entire history. Buildings of the Church and State were usually constructed in stone and could therefore be repaired after damage by fire. The homes of the citizens of the town, on the other hand, were timber constructions and therefore had to be built up again from the foundations. The Hanseatic merchants were those most observant of tradition in relation to architecture. When the Wharf was rebuilt after the great town fire of 1702 for example, only a few small changes were made.
This is the (very) short version 🙂