Bryggen historic houses © charley1965
Bryggen (also called Tyskebryggen), the site of the old medieval quarter of the city of Bergen, is a charming, compact area of brightly coloured wooden homes that traditionally housed the city's merchants. Steep cobbled lanes are lined with a vivacious blend of cafes and artisans' workshops. The Hanseatic wharf area, with many buildings dating from before the 17th century, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the most important examples of a medieval settlement in the world.
Bryggen was once the working area of the merchants and is the oldest part of Bergen, characterised by a maze of lopsided wooden buildings with pointed gables facing the harbour. The Bryggen and Hanseatic Museums as well as the 12th-century St Mary's Church are all in the Bryggen area. At one end of the wharf is Bergen's famous fish market, a colourful market also selling flowers, fruit, vegetables and souvenirs. Because of its predominantly wooden buildings, Bryggen has struggled with fire throughout its long history, and many of the structures have been rebuilt several times. One of the unexpected advantages of the destruction caused by fire was the discovery of a wealth of runic inscriptions, which are now housed in the Bryggen Museum.