The Cathedral of Bergen in has existed nearly 900 years. The church was dedicated to the Norwegian saint Olav around 1150. Since then it has burnt five times and was even hit by a cannonball in 1665. The cannonball is still firmly stuck in the church tower to remind us of a time with battles in the bay.
When the Bergen Fire Brigade was founded in 1868, Corps de Garde was an obvious choice as one of two primary locations for fire stations. Corps de Garde, however, has a history that goes some years further back.
St Jørgen’s Hospital was a leprosy hospital with a history that goes back to the Middle Ages. The hospital was most likely originally built by the nearby Nonneseter Convent. The hospital received testamentary gifts in 1411, but we do not know how much older the hospital might be. The last two patients at St Jørgen’s Hospital both died in 1946, after which it ceased to exist as a health institution. Today's buildings date back to the 18th century, and is administred by the Bergen City Museum.
Mariakirken, St Mary’s Church, holds a special position in the history of Bergen. The first high mass in the church was held in the middle of the 12th century, something that tells us that the church is in fact the oldest remaining building in Bergen. Mariakirken had, and still has a central location in town. Still, it had a far more dominating position in medieval Bergen, when the country’s centre of power was a stone’s throw away.
Information on Margaretakirken (St Margareta’s Church) is very limited. If we want to say something about its location, or what kind of building it was, we’ll have to guess. Margaretakirken was probably located just outside the football field by the Aquarium at Nordnes. The church was most likely raised in honour of Princess Margareta of Norway and Scotland, also known as the Maid of Norway.
The only thing left from Nikolaikirken, St Nikolai’s Church, is the name of the street that leads past the church’s location in past times. In the Middle Ages the church was used as a lookout for fires, but probably the Reformation made the churche redundant.
If you one day found yourself being a slave at Bergenhus Fort and Castle, you had turned into a criminal of great proportions, such as a notorius thief or a killer. The Slave prison was not a place where the rehabilitation of criminals was a highly regarded philosophy. But if anything at all was to soften the hardened criminal’s heart, it would have to be the words of the Lord. In 1840 two rooms in the crypt of Håkon’s Hall were turned into a church for the slaves.
St Katarina’s hospital was as far as we know the first health care institution in Bergen. It was built at Sandbro during the first part of the 13th century. The hospital burnt during the city fire in 1248. It was rebuilt behind the Cathedral in 1266 and stayed a hospital for leprosy patients, a poor house and a hospital for other gravely sick people until 1771.
There are no visible remains from Munkeliv Monastery today. The remains from the large monastery is found below ground in the square that is called Klosteret – The Monastery. In the Middle Ages, Munkeliv Monastery was situated on an elevated spot, with its walls and towers overlooking the landscape. Monks, and later nuns, lived in Munkeliv in peaceful work, study and prayer – but had also to endure fires and fights.
Even though the remains of the Cistercian Nun Convent, Nonneseter, are found in a central part of Bergen today, it was originally located outside the town. Cistercian nuns spent their time here in prayer and work, probably more peacefully than their male colleagues at Munkeliv Monastery. At least until the early 16th century, when the alleged decadence at Nonneseter Convent became the talk of the town.
Nykirken was built in 1621 after the inhabitants on Nordnes had argued that they had such a long and difficult walk to the Cathedral. When completed, the church was named “The New Church” since the other churches in Bergen were already several hundred years old. The name has later become highly appropriate – the church has been rebuilt many times since the seventeenth century.