Alvøen is one of the oldest industrial places in Norway. As early as the 1620s a gunpowder mill was built here. The place itself was well situated for industrial activity, lying only 100 m from the waterfall, which provided power for the mill, and a good harbour wherefrom the products were shipped. The success of the gun-powder mill varied in the 1600s and 1700s, but what made Alvøen best known was its paper production.
On the farm of Arnatveit, high up on the slope above the highway, an old smokehouse remains standing in the courtyard of the main farm property, in the place of the old common courtyard. Today this farm lies at the outskirts of a large housing estate. Most of the farmland of the other farm properties has been sold to benefit the city’s need of sites for the new community of Arna.
"With its strange situation (surrounded by high mountains), this city has the advantage of a beautiful port and considerable shipping, but also the disadvantage that once on land one cannot get to the city without great inconvenience. This is because the weather in the vicinity of these high mountains is extremely unpleasant and rainy. There has even evolved an expression that is always rains in Bergen, and we have not experienced anything to counteract this saying." (a quote by the Dutch professor Fabricius after a visit to Bergen in ca. 1780).
In the 1300s Bergen was a trading centre of European dimension. The town is thought to have had around 7000 inhabitants and was the largest and most important in the country. In a European context it was an average size town. At this time the most tightly built town area was still mostly east of Vågen from Holmen in the north to Vågsbotn in the south. Already in medieval times, latest in the 1340s, this area was called Bryggen.
Swimming and fishing is fully possible in Byfjorden (By Fjord). The water is of good quality most places, after considerable resources have been used in past years for clean-up. But, past sins still lie in the mud on the sea bottom. Fish that live in direct contact with the bottom sludge should not be eaten.
It isn't true that hungry students have hunted down basking ducks in the city park Byparken in their spring fervour, as rumours may have it. But, it is not unusual to see students throw themselves over the park's wild birds, and hold on to them tight. They ring the birds. Because of this, we know quite a lot about the birds in Byparken.
As a fairytale castle Damsgård Hovedgård lies on the slope rising up from the Puddefjord. The old connection between the farm and the sea, as we see it on Dreier’s prospectus from 1810, has been broken up by roads and encroachments in the building mass. But the main building itself is a central monument in Norwegian architecture from the 1700s – one of the finest representatives for the rococo period, with a magnificent and rich décor both in its interior and exterior.