The Norwegian city Bergen offers a lot itself, but when visiting the city you might want to do a daytrip to explore the city´s outskirts. When I visited Bergen in July a couple of years ago my choice for a daytrip was to go to a musician´s summerhouse on a small island, a classical Norwegian stave church and a composer´s home.
Ole Bull´s Summerhouse Lysøen
Getting to the island Lysøen by public transportation is a little bit of a challenge using two buses and a boat. But all together it takes less than an hour, and the boat trip is only three minutes.
Lysøen was commissioned by the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, and completed in 1873. At that time Bull lived in Boston, USA, with his second wife and baby daughter, and they needed a place in his hometown to spend the summers. He bought the whole island, and you will also find several beaches and paths on the rest of the island. The summerhouse itself is unique in Norway, having an onion shaped dome, most recognised from Russian orthodox buildings, and exotic carved details, bringing the thoughts to a fairy-tale castle. The music room, on the second floor, is built in Norwegian pinewood, and is inspired by the Norwegian stave churches.
Unfortunately, it started to rain heavily as we were on the boat to the island. We still got an impression of Lysøen, but could not walk around the rest of the island.
Edvard Grieg´s house Troldhaugen
From Lysøen it is a 30 minutes’ bus ride to Troldhaugen. This is where the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, known all over the world for In the Hall of the Mountain King, lived with his family. Trold means troll and haugen means hill.
The villa itself is very idyllic, and can be visited inside, but the façade was under renovation when I was there. I found Edvard Grieg´s small red writer´s cabin most intresting. The building cannot be entered but I had a sneak peek through the windows. The environment surrounding Troldhaugen is really beautiful, but except many other visitors if you arrive at the same time as one of the tourist busses.
In addition to the old buildings a modern concert hall was raised in 1985; almost invisible and covered by nature. More than 300 concerts are being hold here every year.
Fantoft Stave Church
From Troldhaugen it is further 15 minutes’ bus ride to Fantoft stave church. The stave churches are only to be found in Norway. They were raised during the Middle Ages using a special building technique. The timber framing consists of vertical timbering holding up horizontal elements. The decorations are of geometrical figures inspires by the Viking Ages, like drakes and other hedonic symbols. The stave churches hardly have any religious decoration at all, and are always painted with dark brown tar.
Fantoft stave church was finished in 1150. The year 1992 it was destroyed by arson, but rebuilt as an identical replica in 1997.