Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 4 - Bergen to Rosendal
After our big concert yesterday the choir took some time off today for sight-seeing in Bergen, and then took the afternoon to travel to Rosendal.
In the morning we visited Bergen's Bryggen Museum, which records the history of the wharf district, and hosts an exhibition about its medieval history. After a fire in the early 1950s that destroyed several of the wooden houses along the wharf’s water front, the Bergen city administration embarked on an expansive archeological investigation of the area.
From the beginning of the medieval era (in Norway considered to be starting around 1000 AD., following the Viking era), the houses at the waterfront repeatedly went through a cycle of construction, regular city life, destruction by fire, the charred debris being shoved into the water, and reconstruction. Consequently the ocean floor contains layers of burnt house debris, alternating with disposed artifacts of regular city life. As the dates of the fires are very well known, the sandwiched artifacts can be dated quite exactly, giving a very clear picture of Bergen’s medieval history.
The choir watched a short film describing the 1950s excavations (in English!) and enjoyed the detailed exhibits about medieval life in Bergen.
After a quick lunch we then moved on to a very interesting and entertaining tour through King Haron’s banqueting hall and the adjacent Rosentkrantz tower, both initially built in the 13th century.
The structures were severely damaged in 1944, during Norway’s occupation by Nazi Germany, when a ship loaded with dynamite exploded nearby in the harbor. Although resistance forces were first suspected of having planned the blast, it soon became apparent that it was actually caused by a fire in the ship’s engine that ignited the dynamite cargo. The force of the blast was so great that the ship’s anchor was later found 2 miles from the harbor, on a hill.

The solid outer medieval walls of the banqueting hall and most of the tower survived the blast, but almost everything else was destroyed. The small silver lining of this explosion was that it gave archeologists a chance to conduct a very detailed investigation of the site.

After visiting these museums, the choir went on a short shopping trip in Bergen, and then we loaded up the bus for our trip to Rosendal, to the south-east of Bergen. The trip along the coastline offered glorious views, and the short ferry ride was also very entertaining. We arrived in Rosendal late in the afternoon, and all singers (and even chaperones) were greeted by their host families, with whom they will be staying for the next three days.