Friday, November 21, 2008

postcards from Bryggen

June 2004, summer, and I found myself in Norway, the Land of the Midnight Sun. The place is Bergen, definitely a city made to be overrun by tourists. The sites were aplenty but none is more visually and culturally impressive than the waterfront of Bryggen.

Bryggen, or Vaagen, as it is locally known, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for for its well-preserved Hanseatic homes and shophouses dating as far back to the 15th century. It is unique in its historical representation of the architecture of a medieval settlement.

My camera way back then was a Canon S40 point and shoot but despite the limitations, every corner seems to be a postcard-ready opportunity.

Bryggen Port
the Bryggen waterfront

wet Torget
the Torget market at Bryggen

Bergen's social life revolves around Bryggen.

A convenient spot to start the visit to Bryggen is the public fish market of Torget just before it. On certain hours, the market is open and a wide variety of fresh sea produce is on display. The market is flanked by cafes, pubs, restaurants and bars. You can view from here the row of old wooden houses which practically are living remnants of medieval Europe.

fresh crustaceans
the open air stalls of the Torget market sell the freshest seafood produce

colors of Bryggen
tourists crawling all over Bryggen

Most of the old houses however date back only to the 18th and 19th century after having been razed several times by fire. The interior jumble of the buildings now stands crooked and misaligned. By commercial demand, all waterfront houses have already been converted into stores and offices but some of top floors may still be lived in, as well as the houses behind the front row.

This walkway was wet, dark and slippery but incorrigibly inviting.

The overhanging balconies jut out of nowhere. In most places, there seems to be a steady buzz of historical restoration.

Bryggen overhead pathways
My pulse is shot under low light so this was my best attempt. In rescuing this picture, I might have gone overboard with the saturation.

inside a typical bryggen courtyard
a typical Bryggen courtyard is simple, sparse and functional. The facades are a different matter

buildings with ivy, Bryggen
ivy-covered houses in Bryggen

brewing storm
the unique Bryggen coastline, taken just before an anticipated downpour

Peculiarly, the photo below, the one which is the most popular of all my flickr photos of Norway, was taken behind the port. The patterns simply jumps out and leave without a modicum of doubt how Bryggen remains to be an amalgam of tradition, function and drama.

houses of Bryggen
houses behind the Bryggen port

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