Nordnes Park, the Verdant Tip of Bergen

Bergen’s Totempæl, gifted by the city of Seattle

photography by: Omri Westmark

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More often than not, twin city agreement bears little to no meaning in real life. That is, unless you are talking about Bergen and Seattle. Historically home to an ample Scandinavian community, Seattle donated in 1970 a traditional totem pole that now greets visitors in Bergen’s Nordnes Park, encompassing the western tip of the downtown area.

Bergen and the US city of Seattle might be an ocean away from each other, but apparently both cities share more than meets the eye. In fact, Seattle is home to a large community of ethnically Norwegians, originally flocked to Washington State, where the salmon fishing industry became a regional economic engine. To reflect the centuries-old affinity, the two cities signed a sister city accord, whereby strengthening their cultural cooperation.


Their sisterhood culminated in the early 1970’s, when Seattle inaugurated the Bergen Place Park in Ballard, later officially dedicated by the Norwegian King. In return, Bergen was bestowed with a 10-meter-tall totem pole, celebrating its 900th anniversary. Unlike its counterparts across North America which often serve a ceremonial purpose for the native tribes, Bergen’s beautifully carved Totempæl is merely a wooden sculpture, conspicuously standing in Nordnes Park, the westernmost point of the downtown.


Established in the late 19th century by the Bergen born businessman, Edvard Germanus Johannessen, the park spans across 3.27 hectares on a wooded hillside in front of Byfjorden fjord. Thanks to its scenic location, Nordnes Park has a series of scenic points along the shore, from where visitors can gaze at the nearby fjord as well as Bergen’s rural outskirts, steeped in pristine nature. Situated on the southern part of the park is Nordnes seawater pool, a heated pool whose 29-degree water provide a comfy environment to marvel at the surrounding scenery.