The Bergen Map

Seminarium Fredericianum

For boys wanting an education at university, the Grammar School was for centuries the only school offering this opportunity. Still based on a curriculum from the Middle Ages, the Grammar School needed educational reforms by the middle of the 18th century. A new school building was erected on the other side of the Cathedral as a boarding school for pupils in need of an education based on more modern and practical subjects.

Bishop Erik Pontoppidan and law student Melchior Falch were professionally and financially responsible for the building of the school – the latter was the humble donator of funds for the school. He did, of course, ask nothing in return, but was still appointed District Stipendiary Magistrate in 1754.

At Seminarium Fredericianum the boys could learn about moral philosophy, mathematics, physics, history of literature, German and French. The purpose of the new school was to train boys to become merchandisers. At this time, the need for new fields of study, other than priesthood training, had been acknowledged in Bergen. The school received its first students in 1752, when twelve boys began their boarding school life.

Bishop Erik Pontoppidan and law student Melchior Falch were professionally and financially responsible for the building of the school

As time went by, the Seminary received fewer and fewer applicants. A possible explanation for this may be the Seminary’s close connection with the Grammar School – it may have been difficult to combine the classical education with the more practical ones. In 1781 the Seminary expanded its curriculum with navigation and geography. The lectures were opened also for an external audience – if fact giving Bergen the first “open university” in Norway. In spite of these efforts the Seminary was shut down in 1808.

After this the house was used as a military hospital for four years. Later on it was sold to a private secondary school, which stayed here until 1846. A private school for girls used the house until 1851. Finally Bergen Barneasyl – Bergen Children’s Asylum – moved into the building, where they still are. Today the “asylum” is an ordinary kindergarten, but the history of the building lives on through the kintergarten’s historical name.

In 1851, Bergen Children’s Asylum was already an eleven year old foundation. The bishop in Bergen at the time, Jacob Neumann, had initiated the foundation, offering education and proper upbringing to children aged two to seven. Children from poor homes with both parents working, were offered places here. By keeping the children from idleness in the streets, the bishop apparently thought that this initiative would bring the children to realize that honest work was the best way to earn their bread.

150 children could stay at the asylum at the same time, and they were taken care of by ladies from the upper classes, two at the time. The girls were taught needlework and singing, and the boys learned reading, writing and singing. The boys were given physical education as well.

The asylum charged two schillings a day, but for the poor children it was possible to get “adopted” by well-off citizens who paid for their education.

Today it is called Bergen Barneasyl.


Til alle som har en fot i fortidens Bergen - hva med Elisabeth Welhavens fornøyelige historier fra Bergen rundt 1800? Boken kan bestilles på Histos forlag!

Seminarium Ferdericianum is still a nice place for children.

Seminarium Fredericianum eller Bergens barneasyl, ligger på Asylplass 2 i bydelen Bergenhus i Bergen og huser i dag Norges eldste barnehage.

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