Fairy tale Bryggen – winter-time Bryggen in foreign eyes

Knowing how crowded the World Heritage Site Bryggen can be (ever tried to push a group of 20 people inside one of the narrow rooms in the Hanseatic Museum?), I can have a guess that there’s no need to provide tourists and locals with another tip of what they should go and see there. So, let’s try it another way, and let me take you to what you should not see – but imagine!

I’m not the first one to write about the exotic aspect of Bryggen, but I would like to make it sound even more exotic. There’s plenty to imagine in Bryggen. You could take it the historical way and try to feel the medieval bustle on a busy day in Bryggen. Then you could almost smell the stock fish, hear the seamen shouting from the ships, and imagine all the stories going on here – a young apprentice feeling a bit lost after his journey from Germany, a Hanseatic merchant visiting secretly his Norwegian mistress, Norwegians and Germans getting into a fight after getting drunk at the wine cellar…

However, it is now December, and I would like to provide you with something more Christmas-like. Let me take you to a sugary Christmas fairy tale… Now that Christmas lights have been lit on the front of the houses in Bryggen, now that Norwegian night starts before the afternoon’s even over, you could easily imagine that you enter a huge cake city. Don’t you believe me? Remember the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, where the two lost children arrive to a wonderful gingerbread house. If you believe me, Bryggen is kind of the same, except it is not a trap for a nasty witch to feed you. In Bryggen, the sweet smell of skillingsbole, freshly baked at Baker Brun’s, can help you to get immersed in that sugary parallel world. If you are lucky enough, a thin layer of snow will even embody the sugar icing… But of course, as it is in Bergen, you will mostly get the feeling that someone is pouring water over that beautifully-made cake!


Photo: HD, December 2015.

Now, let me ask you a question: did locals start to bake Christmas cakes that looked like their traditional houses, or did they start to build houses that looked like their traditional Christmas cakes? After all, archaeologists found out that the Norwegian flat bread tradition dates back to the Middle Ages

But let’s stick to what’s most important, namely enjoying Christmas Bryggen, and baking Christmas cakes!

HD, student from Paris, on internship at Bergen City Museum.