Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus Fortress History

Bergenhus Fortress Norway

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-story building with a cellar in the basement, a number of rooms on the first floor, and a large hall in the uppermost story. The building (37.0×16.4 m) is constructed of stone, mostly massive coursed rubble, but with corners, windows, and doors in ashlar.

The basement was unvalued 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 joint holes sunk into the piers.

Bergenhus Fortress

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 the 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 16th-century drawing.

Bergenhus Fortress

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 1955–61.

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.

Bergenhus Fortress Location

Address: Bergenhus Festning, Vågen, 5003 Bergen, Norway. Get help with directions using the map provided below:

Bergenhus Fortress Map

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