For 9 centuries, this has been a place of worship, but it's amazing that the cathedral is here at all -- after all, it's been burned down five times. The first stone church was built in the mid-12th century and dedicated to Olav the Holy, patron saint of Norway. By the 13th century, the Dom was in the hands of the Franciscan brothers, but the fires that swept Bergen in 1248 and again in 1270 caused massive damage.

Under a grant from King Magnus ("the Lawmender"), the friars reconstructed a beautiful church, which stood here in 1301. Regrettably, the massive Bergen fires of 1463 and again in 1488 swept over the church. With the coming of the Lutheran Reformation, the first Lutheran bishop claimed the old Franciscan church and turned it into the cathedral of Norway's oldest diocese. Unfortunately, two more fires destroyed the cathedral in 1623 and 1640. The present building dates from its major restoration in the 1880s, which saw the addition of beautiful stained-glass windows with biblical motifs. All that remains from the 13th century are the Gothic choir stalls and the foundations of the towers. Since the Battle of Bergen in 1665, a cannonball has been embedded in the West Wall.