Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Hanseatic warehouses in Bergen, Norway

This undated postcard shows the old warehouses from the Hanseatic League in Bryggen, one of the wharf districts of Bergen, Norway. Bryggen is the Norwegian word for "wharf."

Some quick history from Wikipedia:
The city of Bergen was founded in 1070. The area of the present Bryggen constitutes the oldest part of the city. Around 1360 a Kontor [foreign trading post] of the Hanseatic League was established there, and as the town developed into an important trading centre, the wharfs were improved. The buildings of Bryggen were gradually taken over by the Hanseatic merchants. The warehouses were filled with goods, particularly fish from northern Norway, and cereal from Europe.
The Hanseatic League "was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe" from the 13th through 17th centuries.

Here, also from Wikipedia, is a panorama shot of Bryggen taken in 2005.

Click on the above image for a larger version, or -- for an super-detailed version -- go to this Wikipedia page and click on the image twice.

To tie things together geographically, here's a portion of the political and economic map of the North Sea countries from the 1920 edition of "New Geography (Book Two)" by Wallace W. Atwood.1 Bergen is along the upper edge of the map, near the word "COD".2

Finally, if you're interested in more about Bergen and Bryggen, the Bergen Guide website is filled with articles and information about the historic Norwegian city. (It also has a terrific essay about Norwegian folk tales and legends by Birgit Hertzberg Johnsen.)

1. This is the textbook with doodles that were featured in a pair of February posts: Part 1 and Part 2.
2. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend Mark Kurlansky's "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World."

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