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2. Unique Selling Points___

Ever since the intrepid King Olav Kyrre sailed into the harbour and founded the city in 1070, Bergen has attracted people from all quarters of the world. Some came and went, others decided to make Bergen their home. Bergensers travelled abroad and learned and so Bergen became a melting-pot of cultures and Norway’s most international city.

Bergen grew up around its colourful harbour – it was the hub of commerce, seafaring and craftsmanship. We became the north’s largest city, Norway’s first capital city and the seat of royalty. So important was Bergen by the 13 th century that the Hansas – the German medieval guild of merchants – opened one of their four European offices on the wharf called Bryggen. Some of the Hansas chose to become Bergensers. And so have many others throughout the centuries. But Bryggen stays the same, its contour just as it was in the 11 th century, untouched by shifting times. It has become a symbol of our cultural heritage and has gained a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Bergen has become a World Heritage City.

Bergensers are proud of their city and of their city’s traditions. They look after their past because it is a part of their living present. A city with its feet in the sea, its head in the skies and its heart in the right place – full of infectious enthusiasm, and happy to share it with visitors.

Bergen – a European Cultural City
Aside from their commercial interests, Bergen merchants had a nose for culture. It was they who laid the foundations for Bergen to be the cultural city it is today. Bergen has one of the world’s oldest symphony orchestras, the country’s first national theatre, a host of international festivals, and a whole range of museums and institutions, which owe their existence to the generosity of merchants.

Also, Bergen was the birthplace of the north’s first comic writer, Ludvig Holberg; Norway’s first major landscape painter, Johan Christian Dahl, and the hugely popular composer, though small in stature, Edvard Grieg. The dramatist Henrik Ibsen was not born in Bergen, but it was here that he entered the world of theatre. The painter, Edvard Munch, was not Bergen-born either, but it was a Bergen industrialist who ensured that the city now has a unique collection of Munch’s works.

Bergen resounds with music and has some of the country’s best choirs, jazz musicians who improvise through the night, and operatic singers whose arias soar above the fortress walls of Bergenhus. Art can be created on pavement slabs, and even drain covers are turned into works of art – in a city which considers that culture is a part of the every day, and an important expression of Bergen’s variety of life.

It is therefore not surprising that Bergen became a European City of Culture in the year 2000.

Bergen – The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway
The fjords are Scandinavia’s tourist attraction Number One – and Bergen opens the door to a virtual kingdom of fjords. It is one of the reasons why Bergen is one of Europe’s most visited cruise ship harbours. The sea has carved itself through and across Norway’s long coastline and has given us nature in many facets. Here waterfalls tumble down the mountainsides, here eternal snows glitter on the mountaintops, and here bright grass softens the fjord edges. In spring, blossoming fruit trees throw a lacy carpet over the landscape.

This is a land of contrasts. From the soft and gentle, to the harsh and untamed. Tiny fertile villages strung like glowing green pearls along the fjordline, and indomitable fishing communities clinging to rocky outcrops with the wild ocean crashing all around. Between the world’s longest fjord and one of the world’s most beautiful – that is the Sognefjord and the Hardangerfjord – lies Bergen – which is the gateway to exploring this beautiful natural area.

But the scenery isn’t just to soothe the eye. Here you can ski throughout the year – yes, also in summer. There’s also white water rafting, mountain and glacier hiking, cycling along the byways, and fishing in the sea and rivers. The round trip

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.