For more than 500 years the Hansa trading system was followed in Bryggen. The remnants of the Hansa period’s city structure inspired both by European and Norwegian building traditions were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
The first German traders came to Bryggen in the 1230’s. After many years with restrictions, the Germans were granted special privileges in 1278 which gave them permission to spend the winter in Bergen, salvage rights, and permission to buy property. The export of dried fish and import of grains were the most important trade goods.
The urban constructions at Bryggen consisted of one, or most often two narrow series of houses, forming double buildings. These were divided in several rooms with a common entrance. These were combined living quarters, offices and warehouses in two or three floors.
The tradition of long narrow buildings that face the sea, separated by passages, comes from the city’s earliest history. Harald Hårfagres royal farm, Alrekstad, and the farm of Bjørgvin had their boat houses at Vågen before Olav Kyrre gave Bergen city status ca 1070 AD.
Friends of Bryggen
In 1962 the Friends of Bryggen association was founded. It owns 35 of Bryggen’s buildings. The goal of the association is to preserve Bryggen in cooperation with cultural heritage agencies.