Klosterhagen Hotel is ideally located at Klosteret in Bergen. A part of the district of Nordnes, Klosteret is within walking distance of all the city’s landmarks and shopping opportunities. The combination of the central location and quiet surroundings makes Klosterhagen Hotel an obvious destination for your stay in Bergen.
Munkeliv (The Michael Monastery)
Klosteret (“the Monastery”) at Nordnes is an historical location familiar to most residents of Bergen. It was here that Munkeliv monastery lay in the Middle Ages, from about 1100 until 1531 A.D. For about 420 years, Munkeliv was an important part of the urban landscape of Bergen and of the daily life of most residents.
No visible parts of the monastery remain today, but archaeological examinations have uncovered remains of the monastery church’s walls and a little bit of the monastery buildings. The church, some remains of which still lie beneath the road surface, was about 35 m long, and covered most parts of the street between the present Nordnes Bydelshus and Hordaland Art Centre. The church was dedicated to the archangel Michael, and the church and monastery were therefore also occasionally referred to as the Michael Church and the Michael Monastery.
Originally, the residents of Munkeliv were Benedictine monks. They lived contemplatively, i.e. isolating themselves from the world, and were rarely seen outside of the monastery. Their most important task was to pray for their fellow men, and they gathered for service seven times a day. Among other activities, they could be studying and copying books. Monasteries of the time also included a sick ward and a guest house. It is reckoned that there were at least 30–40 monks at the monastery, in addition to novices and lay brothers, i.e. students and those who entered the order to become priests. Servants, craftsmen, “provent people” (wealthy, often elderly people who would pay to enter the monastery) and other so called familiares would also live in and around the monastery. As such, there was a whole small society at Munkeliv. The monastery also had its own monastery garden, where herbs would be grown for medicinal use. The exact location of the garden is not known, but it may have been approximately where Klosterhagen Hotel can be found today. We know little about Munkeliv until the end of 1200s, when the monastery had become a central institution in the city and the country. Munkeliv ended up owning quite a few farmyards, particularly in the west of the country, and over time became the richest of the Norwegian monasteries.
During the 1420s, Munkeliv changed from the Benedictine Order to the Brigittine Order, named after the founder of the order, the holy Birgitta of Vadstena, Sweden. The new order, led by a mother superior, welcomed both nuns and monks. The changing of the monastery order must have led to extensive restructurings of the site, as nuns and monks were to live totally isolated from each other. Up to 85 Brigittines lived at Munkeliv. According to the available written sources, the century when they lived at the monastery is distinguished by a lot of unrest, most often inflicted on the monastery from the outside. However, the sources also give us an insight into the daily, pious monastery life at Munkeliv. One example is the nun Birgitta Sigfusdatter’s work to copy the well preserved Munkelivspsalteret, a prayer book from the middle of the 15th century.
Munkeliv was closed as a monastery in 1531, and the buildings were used as a cathedral and Episcopal residence. However, the old monastery buildings burned down already in 1536, and soon after the remains of the buildings were demolished. Some of the bricks from Munkeliv were used to build the wall at the present Muralmenning. Today the name of the area – Klosteret – is the only thing that tells us of the special, pious life that was led at this site for more than 400 years.