Bergenhus Fortress History
The Bergenhus Fortress was completed in 1261. The
King Haakon’s Hall is the only surviving part of the royal palace built by
King Haakon IV Haakonsson (1217–1263).
It is a three-storey building with a cellar in the basement, a number
of rooms on the first floor and a large hall in the uppermost storey. The building (37.0×16.4
m) is constructed of stone, mostly massive coursed rubble, but with corners, windows and doors
The basement was unvaulted at first, but, probably after a fire in
1266, ten bays of groined vaulting were put in, divided into two aisles and resting on two
transverse walls dividing the basement into three rooms and two square piers in the middle
room. The vaults, rising to the second-floor level, actually support the pavement of the hall,
while the first floor is carried on corbels and in jointholes sunk into the piers.
The windows are placed in the west wall and in the two gables, which
have large (restored) four-light plate-traceried windows. The basement is lit by seven narrow
vertical loopholes. The seven first-floor windows, each of two pointed lights, all more or less
restored, follow closely the original pattern.
The windows of the hall on the floor above, resting on a string course
stepped down at both ends, are each of two pointed lights with a quatrefoil pierced in the
spandrel above the lights. These windows take up fully half the total height of the building.
The main doorway is in the south gable at second-floor level, suggesting that there was
originally a system of external galleries and staircases, which must also have led to the
adjacent royal chapel dedicated to the Holy Apostles.
The doorway is late medieval, obviously replacing an original
13th-century doorway. The building probably had a scissor-braced rafter roof (the present roof
is a copy of a 12th-century scissor-braced roof in Værnes church, Trøndelag). The battlements
and the stepped gables are the results of a 19th-century restoration, partly based on a
King Haakon’s Hall is an example of a royal banqueting hall, a type
going back to the aulae (halls) of the Carolingian Kaiserpfalz (imperial palace). It was
probably designed and built by masons with English connections.
King Haakon’s Hall served as one of two banqueting halls in the
Bergenhus fortress; the remnants of the other are still visible to the west of it. The hall was
incorporated into the conversion of the palace as a stronghold in the 16th and 17th centuries,
and it became a storage building in the 18th century. It was restored in 1880–95 and again in
Another building that survived in the Bergenhus
Fortress is the Rosenkrantz Tower, a massive 13th century tower. It
was completely restored in the 16th century.
Address: Bergenhus Festning,
Vågen, 5003 Bergen, Norway. Get help with directions using the
map provided bellow:
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