The beautiful city of Bergen was founded in the Middle Ages and is situated on the west coast of Norway. The old Bryggen area played an important part in the Hanseatic League’s trading empire and is still reminiscent of that time. Today Bergen is an international center for shipping, petroleum industry and subsea technology, a busy port – but also an important tourist attraction.
The author Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen and has spent most of his life there. He has written a historical trilogy about Bergen, but most of all he has made his hometown famous through the series of crime fiction novels featuring Private Investigator Varg Veum. He knows every alley and corner of the town – and his descriptions are very accurate. You may literally walk in his footsteps.
Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, where you may hike in the summer or ski in the winter – or just enjoy the beautiful view of the city. The best-known mountains are Mount Ulriken, which you may reach by cable car and Mount Flöien, where there is a very popular funicular.
Mount Ulriken is the highest of the 7 mountains that surround the city of Bergen. It has a height of 643 metres, many magnificent viewpoints and the highest view of Bergen.
“If I looked up, I could see past Landås and up to Ulriken, where the TV mast stood like a floodlit finger pointing at all of us: Big Brother is watching you.” (The Writing on the Wall)
Mount Fløien is the most popular mountain with restaurants, playgrounds and souvenir shops at the top. It is a good starting point for hikes and is easy to access by the funicular in the city center next to the harbour.
“I took the Fløien funicular up to Skansemyren and walked from there. Reaching Ole Irgens vei I studied the street numbers and headed uphill.” (The consorts of Death”)
Varg Veum might seem hard-boiled and cynical at certain moments, but being an ex-social worker he is also a compassionate and warm-hearted person, who searches justice for the most vulnerable.
Varg Veum, whose full name may be translated as “Wolf-in-a-holy-place,” an old Norse expression for an outsider: “Which is what every private eye is, an outsider living on the inside but always outside society,” says Gunnar Staalesen.
Varg Veum has his office in Strandkaien 2 in all the novels and today you may stroll along Strandkaien and find a life-size sculpture of the long-haired detective – at number 2.
From his office window Varg has a view over Vågen Bay and the famous medieval area Bryggen on the other side of the water.
“I was sitting behind my desk, half-cut and half-asleep, when I heard a shot from the other side of Vågen, the bay in Bergen. Not long afterwards I heard the first police sirens…” (Where Roses Never Die)
Varg lives on the opposite side of Vågen Bay, in one of the small white houses on the mountain side, in a street named Telthussmauet.
”Afterwards I trudged down to my flat in Telthussmauet, where I celebrated the arrival of a new millennium in the company of a bottle of aquavit.” (Where Roses Never Die)
Nordnes is a peninsula in central Bergen, surrounded by water on three sides. On the tip of the peninsula is the Nordnes Park, where you may take a bath in seawater, fish or just go for a stroll.
“I walked past Fredriksberg and went on into Nordnes Park, down past the marine baths and right out on to the Point itself.” (At Night All Wolves are Grey)
“With the taste of blood in my mouth I ran up the last stretch to Nordnes Park. At the top I stood panting and listening for signs that someone was following me.” (Wolves in the Dark)
Torgallmenningen is a large square in central Bergen, and it is a place you often have to pass wherever you are going – and Varg Veum often passes, not least to visit the police station, which is very close.
“Even now, walking to the police station the day after, I looked twice both ways when I crossed the road, Torgallmenningen first, then Domkirkegaten.” (Wolves at the Door)
Lille Lundgård lake is a popular recreation area in Bergen, where people often gather – to visit the art museums, play in the park or just walk and talk.
“Bergen surrounded Lille Lundgård lake…” “We followed the footpaths around the lake, where the spring´s first sports event took place every year in wind and hail, and around which all the young families have trudged every 17th May…” (Fallen Angels)