Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and the most popular gateway to the fjords of West Norway. The city is renowned for its beautiful nature and offers excellent hiking opportunities in its immediate surroundings. Having fostered many of Norway's greatest bands and artists, the city is also famous for its cultural life and underground/indie music scene.
Founded around 1070 AD, Bergen quickly evolved into one of the most important cities in Norway. It was the country's administrative capital from the early 1200s until 1299, and the largest city in Scandinavia. Bergen was one of the most important bureau cities of the Hanseatic League, interconnecting continental Europe with the northern and coastal parts of Norway, thus becoming a central spot for the vending of stockfish and the commercial hot spot in Norway. It was the largest city in Norway until the 1830's and has a long maritime history in shipping and finance. The city still has relics of its Hanseatic heyday, most notably the old harbor of Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bergen has been ravaged by several fires; the most recent major fire took place in 1916, a fire which destroyed most of the buildings in what is today the central parts of the city center, centered around the large square Torgallmenningen.