Bergenhus fortress (Norwegian: Bergenhus festning) is a fortress located in Bergen, Norway. Bergenhus fortress is located in the entrance to the harbor in Bergen.
This is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. The fortress contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s. In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.
In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events.
The Rosenkrantz Tower (Norwegian: Rosenkrantztårnet) is one of the most prominent buildings of Bergenhus fortress. The tower derives its name from governor Erik Rosenkrantz (1519-1575). It was during his administration (1559–1568) that the tower received its present shape and structure. The oldest part of the building, however, is made up of a medieval tower, known as the "Keep by the Sea", built by King Magnus the Lawmender in the 1270s as part of the royal castle in Bergen. The keep was slightly modified c. 1520, then extensively modified and expanded in the 1560s by Scottish stonemasons and architects in the service of Erik Rosenkrantz to attain its present form. Rosenkrantz' building contained dungeons on the ground floor, residential rooms for the governor higher up, and positions for cannons on the top floor. In the 1740s, the tower was converted to a magazine for gunpowder, a function it served until the 1930s. The whole building has been open to the general public since 1966. Today, the tower serves primarily as a tourist attraction.