Norway’s popular and historic west coast city of Bergen launched a year of celebrations over the weekend. It’s been 950 years since Viking King Olav Kyrre founded the city (albeit as Bjørgvin) in 1070, and that’s not about to pass without a few big parties.
Crown Prince Haakon was there on Saturday for the launch, with a festive opening ceremony on Bergen’s famed Bryggen, the wharf with its wooden buildings that dates back to the Middle Ages. The crown prince’s grandfather had been there for the opening of Bryggen’s Museum in 1976, along with his mother, then-Crown Princess Sonja.
Thousands of “Bergenese” took part in the celebration that included a light show, the proud presence of Bergen’s tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl ablaze in lights, and special events at the museum. Mayor Marte Mjøs Persen, wearing her local bunad, welcomed everyone, also at a special reception afterwards at historic Håkonshallen, attended by Bergen residents chosen at random.
Other special events will follow throughout the year. Norway is one of Norway’s oldest cities and became an important shipping and trade center in the 1300s, when the powerful Hanseatic League established a presence. In 1979, Bergen became one of the first Norwegian venues honoured with placement on the UNESCO list of world heritage centers around the world.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who comes from Bergen, also took part in the celebrations, right in the middle of political drama over the weekend that resulted in the withdrawal of the Progress Party on Monday from Solberg’s conservative government coalition. Solberg intends to continue governing with a minority coalition.