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The Sydnes Walking Tour

Date
May, 27, 2020

With all this extra time at home this year, I’ve been looking for new parts of my city. Most of this walk I discovered almost accidentally; I live close to Nygårdsparken but hadn’t walked through it until this year. As soon as I saw it I wanted to incorporate it into a walking tour whenever I have visitors who want to see nature. Then, again by chance, I took a walk through Møhlenpris when I was looking for a little bit of exercise (and was getting bored of my normal route). I thought it was just a series of apartments, but after some googling when I got home, I found this incredible history. So, I had to write my Sydnes Walking Tour.

I knew Møhlenpris & Nygårdsparken fairly well, but I needed something else. I looked on a map and saw this area I’d never really walked through: Sydnes. I’d seen the name written down before, and I’d walked through part of it when going to the Hurtigruten terminal, but it was still a big question mark. After walking through it for the first time I just knew it had to be known to visitors.

History of the Area

What’s great about these three places is that they share a similar story: they technically weren’t part of Bergen until the mid-19th century. Up until then, the area consisted of low-income wooden houses, pastures, and some industry along the coast. It was the ‘countryside’ for the city dwellers around the bay, Vågen. Then development came; between the 1860s and 1920s the area saw rapid expansion, with new apartment buildings replacing the old wooden houses. Sydnes was for the fast-growing working class who worked at the new industries in Bergen. The University of Bergen chose Sydnes as its location when it opened in 1946.

So, if you are looking for a part of Bergen that is ‘different’ from Bryggen, the fortress, and the old churches, or if the above overview interests you, this walk is for you!

Walking Information

  • Distance: The Sydnes Walking Tour in full is around 6km (4 miles)
  • Time to allocate: With stopping for photos, 2 hours. Allocate more time if you want to visit the museums, shops, and have coffee, of course.
  • Steepness: I tried to avoid the steepest inclines, but there are two considerate inclines: the first is a series of steps (20-30 steps), and the second is a gravel path through the park.

Who is this walk for?

  • Visitors who have been in Bergen for a few days and are looking for the secret parts of the city
  • Visitors who are interested in ‘off the beaten track’ locations in Bergen
  • Those who are looking for a long walk somewhere in the city
  • Museum-goers
  • Nature lovers

Features of this walk:

  • Parks & various species of flora
  • Historic wooden houses
  • Art nouveau houses
  • Museums
  • Local cafes, clubs and restaurants
  • Local shops

Notes:

  • Large portions of this walk go through residential areas. Please be quiet and respectful towards the locals.

Sydnes Walking Tour Map

Part 1: Through the City

Starting Point: The Blue Stone

We are now standing at the Blue Stone: Bergen’s central monument. From here, it’s easy to get to the whole city. But we aren’t standing at the Blue Stone because it’s a well-known monument; we are standing here because we are on the old city border.

The street you see running through is Ole Bulls Plass (on one side of the street is Hotel Norge & the Ole Bull monument; on the other side is the Theatre). This is the original city border until 1855. Looking at the Red Church, St John’s Church, everything between you and the church was haymaking land with scattered houses. The area was known as a rural idyll and the land where the church is was used as a riding track for the Armed Forces. After 1855, development came to the area and it was incorporated into the city of Bergen.

There was just one street that ran through the meadows, and it is called Vaskerelven. It’s our next stop.

To get to Vaskerelven, walk towards the big red church. The next major road with cars is Vaskerelven; we are going to look to your right.

Vaskerelven

Vaskerelven in 1870. Source: Marcus UIBVaskerelven omkring 1870. Fotograf: Knud Knudsen. Arkivet etter Formannskapet, Bergen Byarkiv.

Vaskerelven in 2020

Vaskerelven was laid out in the 1700s. The name of the street consists of two elements: vasker and elven. This means washing river, and that’s precisely what was here. Built along a river, people would come here to wash themselves and their clothes.

Lower class families in small wooden houses were the first ones to settle here. After the 1880s, most of the wooden houses were torn down to make way more apartments.

Here’s an article talking about the street and it’s various changes: https://www.bt.no/nyheter/lokalt/i/Ok56b/gaten-som-skulle-reguleres-vekk

Vaskerelven underwent a major renovation in recent years, with the renovation complete in 2007. The renovation added sidewalks, granite curbs and cobblestones, and shops and eateries.

The only remaining building that looks more or less the same (see the old picture above: it’s the second building in on the left)

You can see that one of the wooden houses on Vaskerelven has remained throughout the years!

On this street you’ll find a knitting shop, coffee shop, supermarket, and kiosk (Deli de Luca)

Continue down Vaskerelven until you reach Cafe Opera. Turn left onto Magnus Barfot’s Gate.

Magnus Barfot’s Gate

First, let me talk a little bit about Cafe Opera. It opened in 1985 and is the first cafe in Bergen to serve a cappuccino.

Now, Magnus Barfot. His full name is King Magnus III Olavsson, named Berføtt (1073-1103), and he was the son of the city’s founder, Olav Kyrre. The part of the street we are going to walk on was built up in 1912.

Magnus Barfot’s Gate in 1954, looking towards Cafe Opera and the theatre. Blå Kors is in the middle of the frame. Source: Marcus UiB
The new building.

On this street you’ll find the Blue Cross (Blå Kors), a Christian abstinence movement founded in 1906. They original building was lovely; whatever this new building is, is well, ergh.

Continue along Magnus Barfot’s Gate.

Vaskeriet

On your left you’ll pass Vaskeriet, a popular Bergen bar.

The Tram Tracks

You may have noticed there are tram tracks on the ground, yet no tram. We will be seeing these tracks for most of our walk; we will figure out why they are there very soon!

Continue along Magnus Barfot’s Gate until you reach Håkonsgaten

Robin Hood House

This is located at the corner of Magnus Barfot’s Gate and Håkonsgaten. It’s a centre for those with financial difficulties who want to make friends and socialise. They have lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and visitors can use the computers, telephone, and library, all for free. They also provide free Norwegian language courses.

Scandic Bergen City on Håkonsgaten

Håkonsgaten

The street was named in 1884 at Håkon Håkonsson (1204-1263) and it was expanded between 1891-1896.

Continue along Håkonsgaten. You’ll pass the cinema and the Scandic Hotel Bergen City. You will be passing the old theatre, but I’ll write about that in a different walking tour as it’s a different focus.

Turn left on Teatergaten, where the large pink building is.

The Old Hospital Complex

The Bergen Hospital was established here in 1754 in a former tobacco spinning plant, and it was in use until 1912, when the Haukeland University Hospital was completed.

The Bergen Hospital was essentially a ‘disability home for survivors of general disability and incurable sufferers’ and had an average occupancy of 10 patients.

The first hospital building was demolished and rebuilt in the 1770s as a wooden building that could accommodate 56 patients. From 1825, it was well-known that the hospital had terrible conditions. By 1877, the hospital could house 120 patients. When they realised they could no longer meet the standard requirements, Haukeland Hospitla was built.

MentalenFotograf: Ukjent. Arkivet etter Neevengården sykehus, Bergen Byarkiv. Source: Marcus UiB
The Mental Hospitals

There was also a mental hospital here called Dollhuset (the Doll House). It was built in 1762 as a single storey brick building with four cells. By 1828, there were 315 patients at the facility. The centre had a reputation for poor quality, but it was still better than the old ‘facility’, which was basically placing patients in the basement of the old town hall. Dollhuset was replaced in 1833 by the new Mental Hospital, Mentalen. It was a two-storey building with separate men’s and women’s wards and could handle 27 patients. The building quickly became too small and a more modern facility was built outside the city. Mentalen closed in 1891. Today the Engen Eldresenter is located on the site.

Egensenteret

Egensenteret, which is the tall pink building you can see, was built in 1922 on the site of the hospital and has a nursing home, day centre, service housing, cafe, activity room, kitchen, parking space and Health and Social Service offices.

Now we make our way into Sydnes.

Part 2: Sydnes

Welcome to Sydnes! The area was first mentioned in King Magnus the Lawmender’s law from 1276 as Bergen’s western boundary, and the area included Nygård, Møhlenpris, Jekteviken (whee Hurtigruten is) and Puddefjord. Sydnes is the southern part of the peninsula (Syd=south), while Nordnes is the northern part (Nord=north). It was outside the city boundary until the mid-19th century, but there were people living here.

Sydnes was used as a court when the gallows were moved from Nordnes to Dragefjellet in 1640. The site is known for its beheadings and witch burnings. The court was used up until 1803 when Anders Lysnes was beheaded for refusing military service. The area was also known as Rakkerhaugen; the name comes from the executioner’s assistant, the rakker. Rakkerhaugen was mined away when the University Museum was built in 1864-1866. As late as the 1960s, children were advised not to go too close to the “Rakker Dam” in what is now the Museehagen as the “gjernfred’ could drag you down.

Continue walking past Egensenteret until you reach the little courtyard with the yellow house.

Sydneskleiven

To the left of the yellow house you can see the street Sydneskleiven, which is one of Bergen’s oldest entry routes from the west. From the 18th century, scattered wooden buildings were constructed here. When modern development came to the area in the 19th century, the area managed to fight and preserve most of its wooden buildings.

We will see Sydneskleiven from the other side, but feel free to take a quick walk up it to see this lovely street.

Note: If you wish to skip the Sydnes walk you can continue up Sydneskleiven and rejoin the tour at the top (turn left on Sydnesgaten and meet us at St. John’s Church).

Norma Baleans Plass

The square in front of the yellow house is called Norma Baleans Plass. Norma Balean (1907-1989) was a British/Norwegian actress who was born in London but moved to Bergen with her mother in 1912. She made her debut at the Theatre we passed, and she was widely used in comedies, dramas, and operas. She lived on Sydnesgaten, but used to walk past this square every day on her way to the theatre. The square got its name in 1999.

Walking Through Sydnes

The next part of the walk is perfect for photographers. We are going to wind our way through the old wooden homes. There isn’t much to say about most of them; after all, this was where poor people lived, and no one ever really documented their stories. Still, though, the layout gives you an insight into old Bergen, before the development kicked in.

This is an easy area to get lost, but don’t stress; we are making our way up to Dragefjellet School, a large imposing brick building at the top of the hill. As long as you make it there, it’s all good.

Walk to the right of the yellow house, where you’ll come to a playground.

Turn right and follow Gamle Nøstegaten.

The intersection with Gamle Nøstegaten. Walk right here.
Gamle Nøstegaten

Eventually you’ll see a large yellow wooden house in front of you to our right. That’s how next stop.

Reviving Bergen Architecture

This yellow building is something of an architectural feat. In 2016, it looked like this:

The building was then bought for 6.5 million NOK and, rather than tear it down, the owners renovated it. An architectural firm was in charge of the renovation, and look what they did with it: https://arkcubus.no/prosjekter/gamle-nostegaten-11/ (click the image to scroll through the gallery).

Source: ArkCubus.no

Anyway, back to our walk.

The view down Gamle Nøstegaten. You can see the Hurtigruten terminal in the background.

Continue on Gamle Nøstegaten until you reach Dragefjelltrappen on your left. Now it’s time to go up!

Our first walk up.

This is one of the inclines of the walk. We are heading all the way up there. But you don’t need to do it quickly; there are so many good spots to stop and take photos. Let’s go!

Once at the top you will be on Sydnesgaten. The school (a brick building) will be directly in front of you. Turn left and follow the road.

As you walk along Sydnesgaten, there are plenty of lovely houses to take photos of. Additionally, you can get views over the suburb; highlighting how modern development has slowly crept in.

View of the school
The view down Dragfjellsbakken, one of the streets you will cross. The cobblestone is always new in Bergen!

Once you reach the end of the school, turn right and enter its courtyard. Now we’ve arrived at…

Dragefjellet School

The name Dragefjellet means ‘dragon mountain’, which is just a cool name for any mountain. There’s not much mountain left, though, as Dragefjellet was mined and stone was extracted. A quarry was built where you are standing at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Dragefjellet school was built on the site of the old quarry. The school was closed down in 1980 and was then taken over by the University of Bergen. From 1995, the Dragejfellet School has housed the Faculty of Law.

There are some lovely views from the other side of the building if you want to go for an extra walk.

View from the other side of the school

Make your way back to Sydnesgaten. Now we are going to walk along it until we reach the church. There are some lovely views from here, too.

Sydnesgaten seen from Dragefjellet School
A Beatles fan on Sydnesgaten
Optional Detour: Draggesmauet & Dokkeveien

This is an area I never thought had cute wooden houses, but here we go! If you want to take this path it circles around and rejoins with Sydnesgaten. You can also do some exploring of your own here.

For those not doing the detour: keep walking until you reach St. Johns Church, where you can rejoin us.

Just before you reach Sydnesgaten again you’ll see a shop called Kolonialen; this name refers to the old Kolonial stores. They were like the neighbourhood grocery store. ‘Kolonial’ refers to the fact that the goods came from the ‘colonies’. Back then people seldom stored food in their homes, so they would visit the Kolonial store every day.

Anyway, back on Sydnesgaten and back to the normal walk.

You will cross the top of Sydneskleiven as you continue along Sydnesgaten, so be sure to take a look down at it.

Sydneskleiven (from the top!)

As you get closer to the church, you’ll notice that the wooden houses begin to disappear and the modern apartments come back.

And now we have made it to…

St. John’s Church (Johanneskirken)

St. John’s Church was built in 1894, and its tower makes it the tallest building in Bergen at 61m tall. The church is built in a Dutch red brick with a copper roof. It has the largest church room in the city, with seating for 1250 people.

There was likely a church in Sydnes before Johanneskirken; Jørgen Thormøhlen was allowed in 1684 to build a church in the area, but it’s not really known if the church was built. Who was Jørgen Thormøhlen? We’ll meet him a little later.

For the next part of the walk, we are heading through the University.

Read more about Bergen’s Churches here:

Note: If you wish to leave the walk here, take the stairs down in front of the church and keep walking straight. You’ll eventually reach the Blue Stone. Likewise, if you want to join the walk from here, it’s easy to reach the church from anywhere in the city as it’s so tall!

Part 3: The University of Bergen

Looking at the church with the door in front of you, walk to the right of the church. Follow the church around to its back (you’ll pass an Edvard Grieg Statue on your right). The street is called Sydnesplassen, but you’ll be walking amongst the trees. Turn left onto Sydnesplassen (yes, they both have the same name). You’ll see a large yellow building on your right:

And on your left you’ll see a more modern building:

When you see this building:

Walk under it.

Immediately after walking under it, turn right.

You’ll think this is weird; after all, there’s nothing there? A big boulder and, oh wait, what’s that house…

Source: Marcus UiB

Fastings Minde

Fastings Minde was built in the 1780s as a ‘lystgård’, a kind of holiday house for the upper classes. It was built for Claus Fasting, who also had a large garden built on the site. You’ve been walking through the garden for the last couple minutes (sadly the University built over it, but you can still see the lovely lime trees he planted). Fasting was one of the first in Norway to introduce gardens in the English pattern, which is associated with looking as natural as possible. The garden was inspired by London’s Hyde Park. The lime trees you can still see are all that remains; they used to be along the avenue that led to the house.

Claus Fasting was the great grandson of Jørgen Thormøhlen (hey, there’s that name again…), and Claus used his great grandfather’s land for the site of his lystgård.

The University Takes Over

After Claus passed away, the property was sold to a merchant. He was the one who called it Fastings Minde (Minde means Rememberance). The property changed hands until 1855, when it was used as a mental illness facility. The building was named Rosenberg’s Asylum after the founder of the asylum, Frantz Rosenberg. The building closed down in 1959 and the University took over. Fastings Minde was an important part of the construction of the University.

If you visit Fastings Minde in the next couple years, don’t expect a lot. Sadly, they are renovating it so it’s completely covered up. They are completely rebuilding the lower floor, and by the time I made it there to take pictures, the original timber had been replaced. Not going to lie, that made me a little sad. Here’s what you’ll see:

You can see the replaced timber around the window on the right.

When Fastings Minde is finished, the secretariet for the Holberg Prize (what is the Holberg Prize? Click here) will move in, together with the UNESCO professorship that UiB (the University of Bergen) was awarded in 2016.

If you walk around the house to the other side, you’ll get a lovely view:

Go back the way you came, and then walk towards the stone building. You’ll have to walk around it until you see the main entrance.

Main entrance to the Seafarer’s Museum

Seafarer’s Museum/Sjøfartsmuseet

The Seafarer’s Museum (also known as the Maritime Museum) holds a collection of objects and models pertaining to Bergen’s shipping history as well as the surrounding area.

Opening Hours:

  • 1 September – 14 May daily 11am-3pm
  • 15 May – 31 August Mon-Fri 10am-4pm / Sat-Sun 10am-5pm

Walk over to the big yellow building you’ve probably already noticed.

Museum of Cultural History

The Museum of Cultural History is one of two museums within the University of Bergen complex; the other is the Museum of Natural History, which we’ll see soon.

The Museum of Cultural History has exhibitions on Viking Treasures, the Stone Age, Church Art, Russian Icons, Ibsen in Bergen, Folk Art, Knitting, and Egyptian Mummies (one of these things is not like the other…).

The archway under the tower is one of the original paths into Bergen from outside the city.

You’ll see a pathway in the garden next to the tower. Follow it and you’ll see the museum entrance.

Entrance to the Museum of Cultural History

Now we are going to take a back way into the Museum garden. Keep following the footpath around the yellow building. You can walk any way you want, as long as you head towards the large pink building. If you don’t want to walk through the garden, you can go back to the road and follow it around.

If you do walk along the garden path, you will circle around this monument:

Eventually you’ll enter the Museum Garden (Museehagen)

Museum Garden

This is a botanical garden that is part of the University of Bergen’s Natural History Department. The garden was laid out between 1897-1899 and comprises of 3,000 species from all over the world.

This was Bergen’s botanical garden until 1996, when the larger Arboretum Botanical Garden was built at Milde. Still, the Museum of Natural History has kept a small part of the garden.

There are no wrong turns here; go exploring! You could walk right through it in a couple mins or spend half an hour looking around. All of the plants have a sign next to them with what they are, though it’s in Norwegian.

Eventually, though, we are making our way to the greenhouse.

The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse, called Palmehuset, was built by Gustav Bild in 1901. It originally had a Gothic iron roof, but it was rebuilt in the 1900s with more traditional roofing.

Normally the greenhouse is open to the public, but at the moment it’s closed to maintenance.

Now we have to get to the other side of that pink building. You can continue walking through the museum garden, or cut straight through. It should be a fairly simply path to follow, especially since you can always see the pink building.

You’ll pass another section of the garden that has more plants and a bakery, in case you need a coffee break.

The next section of the garden. The bakery is under those arches.

The Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History is this large pink building we’ve been following.

The University Museum of Bergen was founded in 1825 by Wilhelm Frimann Christie (whose statue is out the front). The intent was to build collections in the fields of culture and natural history.

The building was designed by Johan Henrik Nebelong and finished in 1865. The building is inspired by Italian Renaissance. The wings were added in 1898. The increasing research activity at the museum led to the founding of the University of Bergen in 1946.

In 2009, work began on an extensive rehabilitation that ended up costing over 50 million NOK and taking 10 years. The museum was closed between 2013 and 2019. When the museum officially reopened on 14 October 2019, there was a massive party and light show on the building.

This area is called Nygårdshøyden and was outside city limits until 1877.

Now we are going to make our way to these lovely apartment buildings, which is on the side of the building we just came from. It’s the street with the bright apartment buildings (you probably saw it coming to the Museum).

The street in 1880
The street in 2020

Parkveien

The area was built up in 1881 and gets its name from the fact that the entrance to Nygårdsparken is at the other end.

Number 1 is no longer existent. It was built in 1898 for the Consul Albert Gran, and it was here that flight pioneer Tryggve Gran grew up. One of the later residents here was Hugo Mowinckel, who was Montenegro’s representative at the post WWII peace talks. The building was demolished in 1969 to make way for the Student Society, and then it was rebuilt in 2008 as the Student Centre. There’s an indoor gym with swimming pool inside, as well as the University shop.

Walk along the road until you reach number 9, the large yellow one.

Number 9

This is the oldest house in the street. It was built in 1885 for engineer Fredrik Schumann. In 1946 it was a nursing home, and in 1982 it was the office for an advertising agency. Since 1993, the property has been used by the University of Bergen.

In front of you is the entrance to Nygårdsparken, and it will look very tempting to go in there. You can go in there for a quick look, but we will be returning to the park later in the walk.

Note: If you want to skip the next section you can walk through the park to the other end. Join us when we start talking about Nygårdsparken.

Turn right onto Villaveien

Villaveien

Villaveien was named in 1881 for the largest villas in the area. They were all privately owned, but eventually the University has bought them up.

Villaveien 10 is the Student Union administration building.

Number 9 will stand out. It was originally Knut Feger’s house. He (1909-2001) was a professor of Botany at UiB between 1948-1979.

Image source: Bonansa: https://bonansa.no/index.html%3Fp=906.html

Villaveien 2 was the first one built here. It has an extensive history that has been written up on this website (in Norwegian – you can use Google Translate). In 2015, the house was sold for 23 million NOK. This was the first time in over 100 years it has been up for sale.

Villaveien 1 is a grand building at the end of the street. It was a private clinic from 1886, and the University took over it from 1967. Today it houses the Centre of Medieval Studies, but you can also rent out rooms on Booking.com (click here).

Optional Detour: Human Rights

If you walk through the narrow alley straight ahead, you’ll see the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights. It was established in 1986 in the memory of Thorolf Rafto, a professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and a human rights activist.

The main objective of the Rafto Foundation is to promote the freedom of political expression and enterprise. They have an annual Rafto Prize.

Walk a little further and you’ll reach Menneskerettighetenes Plass, or if you can’t pronounce that, the Human Rights Square. Since 2006, it has been known as the UN Human Rights Plaza and the site is approve by the UN for raising the UN flag.

Back to the main walk from Villaveien 1.

Now we are going to go down into the next part of our walk: Møhlenpris! If you want to end the walk there, go to Menneskerettighetenes Plass in the optional walk and the street will guide you back to the University.

Otherwise, we are going to take Olaf Ryes Vei down to Møhlenpris. You’ll get some great views up at the villas as you go down.

Part 4: Møhlenpris

Møhlenpris is a suburb of Bergen named after, you guessed it, Jørgen Thormøhlen. Jørgen was born in Denmark in 1640 and was the son of a winetrader from Hamburg. He settled in Bergen where he married Giertrud Mager, who was the daughter of the wealthiest merchant in Bergen.

Jørgen became the largest ship owner in Norway. He traded fish from Northern Norway as well as a number of other buildings. Eventually, the was given permission to develop an industrial site outside of the city, which he named Møhlenpris. The property included a salt refinery, packing sheds, deep-water harbour and worker’s homes.

Paper Money in Norway

In 1682, King Christian V of Denmark proclaimed him trade director, and in 1695 he received royal permission to issue banknotes supported by a loan from the King. Jørgen was the one who introduced the first paper money in Norway.

The Slave Trade

Jørgen was involved in another business that is perhaps a little more controversial. In the years 1690-1695, the West Indies-Guinean Company leased its trading activities in the Caribbean and the administration of the Danish-Norwegian island St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies to Jørgen Thormøhlen. One of Thormøhlen’s ships was the first known Danish-Norwegian ship to transport African slaves to America.

After the fire of 1702, Jørgen lost his empire to the flames, and it caused him to go bankrupt. He lived out the rest of his life in obscurity.

Møhlenpris remained a pasture until industrialisation came in the mid-19th century. Factories (including a butter factory) were built along the waterfront, and later on Møhlenpris became home to the tram yard for Bergen’s old tram network.

The Bergen Tramway (Trikken i Bergen)

The Bergen Tramway was in operation from 1897 until 1965, and consisted of four lines. The lines went all over the city, included Torget, Bradbenken, Kalfaret, Sandviken, Bryggen and close to the Fløibanen. After the fire of 1916, the tramway was about to expand and build nice large tram stops. The tramway was expanded throughout the 1920s and reached its peak in 1932. The bus network, the trams greatest rival, opened in the 1920s. During the war, however, the buses were not used due to the petrol rationing.

File:707117 Fullt mulig 372498b.jpg
The tramline over Bryggen
Closure of the Tramway

In the 1950s, the bus network grew much larger, and in 1963 the Bergen City Council decided to close the tramway. All of the trams were, quite literally, thrown into the fjord, except one!

File:Museumstrikken Bergen 1.jpg
The heritage tram

In 1974, the “Association for the Technical Museum in Bergen” was formed. and since 1993, a heritage tram has been operated out of Møhlenpris. The heritage line is operated with five trams: the last one not scraped from the original Bergen tramline, one from Oslo (pictured) and three from Berlin.

From Olaf Ryes Vei you can take a number of short-cuts to to later in the walk. Meet us at the Bunnpris. If you want to see more of Møhlenpris as well as Hulen, keep following me.

Hulen

Hulen (The Cave) is the oldest rock club in Northern Europe, opening on 17 May 1969. The club is mostly for students. It is located in an old bomb shelter that is rented from the Norwegian Civil Defence.

Turn right on Zelitz’ Gate and then turn left on Wellhaven’s Gate.

Welhaven’s Gate 62

You’ll see a sign on the building – here’s what it says:

Since 1932, the retail store Linnaea sold fruits, vegetables and chocolates from here. Møhlenpris Tobacco took over in 1976, and until well into the 1900s, the neighbourhoods kids used their weekly wages in the kiosk here. Across the street, Nobel Bopel has been operating a cafe since 2010, in a building that has been, for example, Kolonial (grocery store), beauty salon, TV repair and dairy shop.

Turn right onto Welhavens Gate and follow it.

Bunnpris

Bunnpris is a chain of grocery stores. On this one, they have an old photo of the street on the side; be sure to take a look and compare it to the modern day!

Continue on Welhavens Gate

Welhavens Gate 50

Here’s another sign on the building. It says:

When Reidar Andersen sold the Roan store in 2007, he had been selling newspapers, chocolates and fishing gear (!) from here since 1952. At that time he was competing [with other shops] on every corner; over the years they disappeared, one by one. On the corner across the street, for example, was E. Hofland Kolonial, while the Follesø Food Center was just across the street. And there in 2013, Bunnpris still sells groceries. Some things last.

Continue to the end of Welhavens Gate. There will be a brick wall in front of you. Turn left and follow the road until you see on your right hand side…

The House Under the Bridge

The ‘House Under the Bridge’ as it is known today was originally called the ‘Monclairhuset’ (Monclair House). It was referred to in 1720 as a ‘splendid house’ and then rebuilt in 1770. It was likely owned by Jørgen Thormøhlen’s estate at Møhlenpris, and has its name from the merchant Jean Monclair (1736-1800), who took over Thormøhlen’s roperty in 1788. The house was the Bergen Housewives School betewen 1914-1972 and today it is run by the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association.

In 2014, the house was up for sale for 1 NOK as the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association owed the owner of the house 200 000 NOK in municipal fees and insurance. The house was never actually approved for business, so the use of the building is not legal.

Here it is in 1910, before the bridge was built:

Amazingly, the house was kept when the Puddefjord Bridge was built in 1956. Originally they wanted to tear down the house as any fire in the house would damage the new bridge, but the Monclairhuset was known to be worthy of preservation and the Road Administration was not allowed to demolish it.

Optional Detour: Møhlenpris Hovedgård

Want to see the manor where Jørgen Thormøhlen lived? It’s a couple minutes walk from the House Under the Bridge. The walk is not super nice, but the house is there.

The house was originally built in 1680 and, while it’s been rebuilt as late as 1900, it’s believed there are parts of it that date back to Jørgen’s time. It was Claus Fasting (of Fastings Minde) who owned the property between 1719 and 1739. After being rebuilt in 1900, it was part of a butter factory. Since 1992, it has been owned by Global Hobby Wholesale.

The next part may be tricky as they are doing a lot of rebuilding of the roads at the moment (2020). Continue along the road (Professor Hansteens Gate) Until you reach Konsul Børs Gate on your left. Turn into it.

Konsul Børs Gate

The street was named in 1892 after business General Consul Christian Børs (1823-1905), who founded trading houses in New York and donated huge sums of money to cultural institutions in Bergen. This street was built exactly over the site where Jørgen Thormøhlen’s ropery was from 1678 until 1888. The district was developed after the 1916 fire caused a huge housing need.

There are some lovely art nouveau details on the apartment buildings here, so take the time to have a look.

The view from Stubs Gate looking up to the University Villas

Continue until you reach Stubs Gate on your right and turn onto it. Follow it one block until Thormøhlen’s Gate.

Thormøhlen’s Gate

This is the longest street in Møhlenpris and the development consists of residential apartments, most built in the early 1900s.

The area facing the fjord has long been associated with the shipping industry, but has recently become an area of new development.

To your right you will see…

Trikkebyen

Trikkebyen is the name of the apartment building we see to our right (it has the name on the front).

The buildings were built in two stages: the first between 1913-1914 and the second completed in 1924. Originally, there were 64 apartments at 30m2 each with their own WC but shared bathroom in the basement. While the exterior hasn’t changed since building, the interior has, of course, been modernised.

Trikkebyen gets its name from the next stop on our trip. The name, Trikke and Byen means “tram city”. These apartments were built for the workers of the old Bergen Tramway. There’s even a picture of the tram on the building!

For a lovely view of the fjord, go through Trikkebyen to the other end. Please be respectful of the apartment owners!

Looking back out at Trikkebyen, you’ll see a brick building to your left. Walk along it until you reach the other end. Then you’ll see the…

Bergen Tramyard/Technical Museum

This building was the premises of Bergen’s old tramway. The building was designed by Schak Bull and then built in 1913.

Today the building houses the Bergen Technical Museum. The exhibitions show the technical development in Western Norway with a focus on transport, including vintage cars, bicycles, motorcycles, buses, and, of course, trams. They also have the old Fløibanen wagons. The museum also has historic fire protection equipment and military equipment, as well as a functioning printing press.

The Technical Museum runs vintage tram rides.

If you aren’t going inside the museum, you can see what a tram looked like as there’s a kids playground across the street with a model tram. On the toy tram, there’s a map of the old tram route! There’s also the old logo, which matches the Hanseatic Logo, on the side of the tram.

Continue along Thormøhlsens Gate. The next building on your right is…

Møhlenpris School

Møhlenpris School was built in 1912, and at the time it was a modern school with 21 classrooms spread over three floors, including a drawing room and science room. Additionally, the school had a reading room, school kitchen, bathroom and swimming pool. The school accommodated 350 students.

The school was designed after the increasing need for classrooms with a rapidly rising population at the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century. When the school started, there were 1,028 pupils.

During World War II, the school was seized by the Germans. The teachers were offered part of the school for use, but they refused; instead the classes were divided into other school. Møhlenpris School started teaching again in 1946.

Continue along to the next road intersection

Wolffs Gate

Wolffs Gate was named in 1881 after the priest and poet Simon Olaus Wolff (1796-1859).

The side of the road on the waterfront was where the ferry took passengers across the fjord until the Puddefjord Bridge was built. The ferry was called Uren (not the most fortunate name). The ferry started in 1916 after the fire; a barracks was built in Gyldenpris (across the fjord) and those at the barracks need to regularly go to the city. Back then, there was no road connection. The ferry was discontinued in 1957.

Continue along Thormøhlens Gate

Gardrobehuset & Møhlenpris Sports Ground

Shortly you will pass a white house that surely looks historic. The building is a ‘Gardrobehuset’, or a changing room, and was used by the sports ground. The sports ground was first used in 1899 and was the first in Bergen.

Today the building is a sports museum and the exhibitions are about sports, activities and games related to Sydnes. The museum is only open between 1pm and 4pm on Sundays, though.

Street Art Wall

As you walk along Thormøhlens Gate, you will find a lovely wall of street artworks.

Continue along Thormøhlens Gate until you reach the big green wooden building in front of you. go to the other side of it.

Cornerteatret

Cornerteatret is a theatre house in Bergen. It was established in 2013 as a production and show house for the free performing arts field, and a creative stage house for children and young people. The building promotes a free and voluntary performing arts environment in the Bergen region. There’s also a cafe here if you want to take a break.

You can check the program here: http://cornerteateret.no/program/

From here, walk on the road that leads up along the soccer field (the soccer field will be on your left). You’ll pass a skatepark on you right, and then see the daycare in front of you. Eventually you’ll go through the entrance to Nygårdsparken and the start of the last part of our walk. If you want to see more of the area, do the optional loop.

Optional Loop: Marineholmen

This waterfront area, called Marineholmen, is a lovely place to spend some more time. It’s very popular with the locals, and you’ll rarely find tourists here. There are cafes, restaurants, grills, a beach and a sauna. On Sundays, there’s a flea market.

Flea Market

Across from Cornerteatret is a square where, on Sundays, you can find locals selling second-hand goods out of their car trunks.

Marineholmen Beach
Marineholmen Beach

Across from VilVite you’ll see a beach – yes there’s a beach in Bergen – called Marineholmen SandStrand (Marineholmen Beach). This is a fairly new beach: it opened in 2018 and was filled with sand that arrived by the truckload.

There was a bit of fuss about the beach when it first opened as the fjord was known as being polluted – after all, it’s still a major shipping area. Also, the nearby boats that dock at the marina used to use the fjord to discharge their septic system. However, they’ve done a ton of cleaning with the water and now it’s perfectly safe to swim there. If you’re doing this walk on a hot and sunny say, you’ll see a lot of people there. There’s also normally some food trucks there as well.

Norwegian Business School

The area where you are is really popular with the locals (and tourists don’t really know about it), so it’s worth spending some time here. The large modern building across from Cornerteatret is the Norwegian Business School: Bergen Campus. The Norwegian Business School is highly accredited. It is the second largest business school in Europe. The campus in Bergen has 3,000 students. There is a cafe inside the building, as well as an academic bookstore.

Walk along the waterfront through a large carpark. You will have the guest marina on your right-hand side.

The Local Sauna

A little past VilVite is the Sauna of Marineholmen. The sauna sits out into the fjord. The restaurant Sweet + Salt operates the sauna, and they are who you book it through. Up to 8 people can use the sauna at any one time. Heating takes about 1.5 hours, and you rent the sauna for 3 hours. Here’s some more details: https://www.sottogsaltlanternen.no/sauna/

If you want to stay in the area for lunch or dinner, try Sweet + Salt (Søtt + salt in Norwegian). Here’s their website: https://www.sottogsaltlanternen.no/

Turn left and walk along the science centre. You’ll see a lovely street artwork on the wall. On your right, you’ll see the business area of Marineholmen.

Old Anchor & Propellor

The sign in front of them reads:

The propeller operated the shipKNM Bergen in the period 1967 to 2005, and the ship was in operational service. Marineholmen was established as a naval base in November 1818 through a lease. In 1837 the area was purchased by the Navy for 2,250 spesidaler. Marineholmen was the Navy’s headquarters in western Norway until May 4, 1962.

You’ll notice Marineholmen is just the marine version of Holmen, Bergen’s fortress. You can find my guide to the fortress here.

Turn left and you’ll be in front of…

VilVite Science Centre

VilVite is Bergen’s science centre. This is a popular attraction for kids, of course.

VilVite has exhibitions that focus on the sea, the weather, energy, oil, gas, and climate research – very Bergen-centric topics! It’s very interactive and fun. There’s also a great shop in there. Even if you aren’t a kid, you’ll enjoy VilVite.

Here’s their website: https://www.vilvite.no/english/

Nygårdsparken

Now it’s time for the final part of our walk: Nygård!

To get into the park, you’ll see an entrance across the street. This is actually one of the original iron gate/fence entrances. Once inside, take the first left. You’ll cross a series of bridges before seeing the daycare in front of you. Take a right on the path and you’ll be at the same point as the rest of the group. But don’t rush; this walk is lovely!

Part 5: Nygård

Nygårdsparken

Size: 74.2 acres

Nygårdsparken was founded by the doctors Joachim Georg Wiesener and Klaus Hanssen in 1880 as a place where the locals could walk and recreate. Danish gardener Severin Lund-Leiberg designed the park in an almost English landscape style.

A large exhibition took place in the park in 1888. People (for an entrance fee of 50 NOK) could visit an animal park, a seal park, a botanical garden, see objects from Fridtjof Nansen’s expeditions, drink coffee in a pavilion in a porcelain cup, or take the elevator to the top of a View Tower. This was probably Bergen’s first lift.

The Drug Scene

Since the late 1960s, the park has had an open drug scene in Bergen, making it the country’s oldest open drug market. Alcoholics dominated the north-eastern (upper) part of the park. Despite heavy criticism from the locals to the Bergen City Council for allowing drug users to use the park as a hangout, it took until 2014 before anything was done about it. During this time, there were plenty of debates about whether politicians should try to move the drug uses away or keep the situation where the drug abuse was concentrated to the park.

Reviving the Park

The park was closed in August 2014 for renovating. There was an extensive rehabilitation of roads and vegetation, and the park began to reopen in 2017. The municipality spent NOK 25 million on restoring the park. There are now bright street lights to keep drug users away. Most of the drug users have moved to other parts of the city, including the Strax House.

The Kindergaten

The Kindergaten is one of the first buildings you’ll see. The building was supposed to be temporary when it opened in 2008. In 2009, the Bergen City Council decided to make it permanent.

Vegetation

The park consists of trees and open lawns. In total there are 330 deciduous trees and 50 conifers; the species of chestnut, beech and lime are the most common. Maple, oak and elm trees can also be found. One of the park’s most rare trees is a hanging hazel. Most of the trees are the originals from 1880.

In 1916, Rasmus Meyer had many rhododendrons and Himalayan seeds added to the park. Overall, the species is typical of Northern Europe with some German influence.

The Gate & Fence

The wrought-iron gates are from the original 1885 park design. When the renovation was underway in 2012, the Council put together plans to replace the fence and gates. The National Antiquities Authority responded with heavy criticism, and in 2014 the original fences were restored.

The Fountain

The first fountain was a gift in 1884 from Consul Christian Børs (remember Konsul Børs Gate?). It was in use until 1960, when it was dismantled and a new foundation was placed there.

The Pond

The pond is a redesigned dam and has three cast iron bridges.

Directions through the park: Take the time to walk around for yourself. We’ll meet at the large fountain in the open field.

To the top!

Once you’re at the fountain and ready to go, we are going to head to the top portion of the park (the bit we saw earlier). To get there, it’s time for our second incline of the walk. You’ll see a path that heads up hill; that’s the one we are taking. It looks like this:

When you get to that grand looking house, take the path to the right:

There are lots of small paths off the main path if you wish to stop and breathe, or just take additional photos. Look at this path I came across:

If you stick to the main path, it’s a few minutes of walking up hill. It will look like this:

Eventually you’ll reach a statue of a girl hugging a deer, surrounded by cherry blossom trees. You’ve made it to the top!

Keep walking straight and you’ll reach a statue of a Buekorps boy, the park cafe, and a playground.

Keep an eye out on your right-hand-side for this monument with the names of the parkers founders on it:

The statue of the Buekorps boy lists names of locals who died during World War II.

The cafe is a nice little stop if you wish to have a break.

From here, you have two options: if you keep following the path straight you’ll reach the University (where we were earlier) and from there you can get back to the University and back to the city (head towards St. John’s Church – directions are at the bottom of this guide).

Or, if you want a little bit more, you can follow me through Nygård.

Parkveien

To follow me, we’ll find the gate on our right (in front of the lovely villas) and go through it. Then turn right and follow the road. Eventually you’ll reach one of the University buildings, which looks like this:

To your left will be a staircase; head down these stairs. You’ll also have a lovely view of the city; Fløibanen will be visible.

Once at the bottom of the stairs, the street on your left will be…

Allegaten

Allegaten was named in 1876 and, for the most part, is a pedestrian street. Here are some of the buildings:

Realfagbygget

The long ugly building you followed down the stairs is Realfagbygget, one of the country’s largest single buildings at 47,000m2. It houses:

  • Department of Earth Sciences
  • The Earthquake Station (more info)
  • Department of Biology (Botany & Zoology)
  • Centre for Pharmacy
  • Centre for Geobiology
  • Chemical Institute
  • Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research
  • School Laboratory in Science
  • Duplication Service & Electron Microscopic Community
Allegaten 34

The yellow house at the bottom of the stairs (number 34) is The Centre for Women and Gender Research & the Centre for Theory of Science. Built in 1893, it is known as ‘Ida Bloms House’ after the Danish-born Ida Blom (born 1931), who became a professor of women’s and gender history at the University of Bergen in 1985 and has made a pioneering effort in Norway with international implications in this field.

Turn left onto Allegaten.

Allegaten 32

Allegaten 32 (directly across the street from Ida Bloms House) is the Centre for for Science Theory and the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. The building was built in 1882.

Continue along Allegaten to the next intersection.

Cross the street over to Hotel Park

Harald Fairhair Statue

The street turns into Harald Hårfagres Gate (Harald Fairhair Street) here, so it makes sense to see a monument dedicated to Harald Fairhair on the side of the hotel. The inscription states that Harald Fairhair unified Norway into one nation (it’s in English).

Side note – my sister stayed at Hotel Park when she came to Bergen one time and she loved the hotel; it’s small, quaint, and a bit of a secret.

Head back to that major intersection and go downhill on Strømgaten for two blocks until you reach Fosswinckels Gate on your left. Turn left onto Fosswinckels Gate.

Fosswinckels Gate

The street got its name in 1867 after the merchant Johan Fredrik Fosswinckel (1712-1799). He was born in Germany but came to Bergen as a merchant apprentice in 1729 and then became a citizen in 1746. In the same year he married Elisabeth Margrethe Meyer, daughter of Lungegården’s owner (now Alrekstad) Margrethe Wessel. Through this marriage, Johan became the owner of the property Nygård in 1750. He helped develop it into a place of leisure with park facilities and free access for all. He was one of the ones who planted Nygårdsallen (now Allegaten) with all the trees.

Today Fosswinckels Gate is famous in Bergen as a street for street art. But not just any street art; on one particular building there is a spot where activists put up controversial street artworks.

The street regularly makes the news for this artworks; a couple years ago it made headlines for an artwork depicting Norway’s Justice Minister on the cross like Jesus, with the caption ‘Making a Martyr’. In addition, the text “my fight” is on the character’s stomach. This artwork became so famous it was stolen right off the wall and later sold for 500,000 NOK.

Let’s go see the street!

Walk along Fosswinckels Gate for one block. It will be on your right-hand-side.

Street Artwork Corner

At the moment the corner has a lot of information about Julian Assange’s imprisonment around it (all in English). You will find several artworks in the area about Julian Assange and the freedom of the press. However, keep in mind that this changes regularly, so it may be different when you go.

Continue along Fosswinckels Gate.

University Library

You will reach a square with the modern University library on the righthand side. Around the square are a number of cafes, bars and restaurants mostly made up of students.

If you continue a little further past the library, you’ll see a large brick building: this is the Faculty for Humanities. Inside the building, you’ll pass a parking garage with some famous Bergen street artworks on it. This whole area is famous for street art.

Continue on Fosswinckels Gate until you reach Christies Gate.

Christies Gate

If you look up to your left, you’ll see the pink University of Bergen building we were at a little while ago. Looking down to your right on Christies Gate, you’ll see the road will lead you to Byparken, Bergen’s park with the lake in the middle. That may be an easier way for you to return to your hotel or your next destination.

If you want to get back to where we started, keep following me.

Continue for Fosswinckels Gate for two more blocks. The first block is Olav Kyrres Gate, and the second is VestreTorgate.

Vestre Torgate

This street will make sense. Looking up to the left, you’ll see the stairs to St. John’s Church. To the right, you’ll see a road back down to the main square. If you keep following that road, you’ll end up at the Blue Stone, where we started!

End of the Walk

I hope you enjoyed the walk! Please let me know how it went and send through any photos of you on the walk.

A print-friendly version will be coming soon 🙂 Working on it as we speak!

Emma Vestrheim

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EMMA VESTRHEIM

Hey, I'm Emma! I'm a tour leader in Scandinavia and local guide in Bergen Norway, and have been for the past four years. These articles are inspired by my job and professional experience.

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