10 Nykirken/Erkebispegården (New Church/The Archbishop’s Palace)

The New Church (Nykirken) viewed across the water from Bryggen (photo Justin Kroesen)
The New Church (Nykirken) viewed across the water from Bryggen (photo Justin Kroesen)

The New Church (Nykirken) was originally built in 1621 on the ruins of the late thirteenth-century archbishops’ palace. This was situated on the west shore of Bergen harbour (Vågen) opposite the king’s palace at Holmen (Bergenhus). In this position it clearly expressed the claim of the archbishop of Nidaros (Trondheim) to spiritual power in the kingdom of Norway.

The remains of the medieval archbishop’s palace (photos Justin Kroesen)

The palace was destroyed by fire in 1589, but parts of the medieval masonry including a narrow early Gothic window can still be seen in the foundations of the white-painted church.

In addition, the outlines of the medieval building are marked in the stone plaster of the adjacent street.

The New Church viewed from Strandgaten (photo Justin Kroesen)
The New Church viewed from Strandgaten (photo Justin Kroesen)

The Baroque New Church underwent several large-scale repairs after repeated fires. The last fire was in 1944 when an ammunition ship exploded in Bergen harbour. The church was subsequently restored following the late Baroque (Rococo) design from 1756 by the Hamburg-born architect Johan Joachim Reichborn. Its architecture is inspired by contemporary examples in northern Germany including the Trinity Church in Hamburg-Altona.

The main entrance has a decorated soapstone portal, and the tower above is crowned by a zinc-clad spire. This spire designed in 1756 was only realized after the Second World War.

Organ, pulpit and hanging angel (photo Justin Kroesen)

The layout of the church is typically Protestant with a focus on the pulpit where the Word of God is read and explained in the sermon. The building can house over 750 churchgoers who are seated in closed box pews.

The hanging angel holding a baptismal bowl in his hands (in German: ‘Taufengel’) can be hoisted up and down by means of a pulley system. It was reconstructed following the 1944 explosion after the original from 1794-1797.

During the second half of the nineteenth century the German-born organist and composer Ferdinand W.F. Vogel worked in the New Church. The old organ was destroyed during World War II, and the present instrument was built by J.H. Jørgensen in 1957.

Statues of Ludvig Holberg on Vågsallmenningen and of Edvard Grieg in Byparken (photos Justin Kroesen)

Among famous artists who were baptized in the New Church are the writer and dramatist Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) and composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907).

The New Church seen from Nykirkeallmenningen (photo Justin Kroesen)
The New Church seen from Nykirkeallmenningen (photo Justin Kroesen)

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Walk up Nykirkeallmenningen, then turn left on Ytre Markeveien halfway the slope, follow this street to Holbergsallmenningen, then turn right until you reach Klosteret square at the top (c. 400 m)  

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