Barneblad: Building Bryggen

A monthly feature to share with kids and grandkids

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

Photo: Lori Ann Reinhall
Each year, Pepperkakebyen in Bergen is a beloved holiday season destination for the city’s families and tourists alike.

Welcome to Gingerbread Town!

As the holiday season approaches, there is much talk about gingerbread. In many cities around the country, plans are being drawn up for Christmas gingerbread towns, and baking is already underway.

But did you know that the biggest gingerbread town in the world is in Bergen, Norway? It’s called Pepperkakebyen, “The Gingerbread City,” and each year, the people of Bergen recreate many buildings from their beautiful city to the delight of children, parents, and visitors from all over Norway and around the world.

Somehow, it is not surprising that the world’s biggest gingerbread city would be found in Bergen, a city that looks like it came out of a fairy tale. One of the most picturesque places is Bryggen, the Old German Wharf. Its charming colorful houses inspired the creators of Disney’s Frozen—and with this project, you will be inspired, too!

The good news for boys and girls is that building a gingerbread house does not necessarily need to be so complicated—in fact, in one afternoon, it’s possible to create your own version of Bryggen right at home. It’s so much fun and becomes the perfect holiday decoration to bring delight to your family and friends.

Believe or not, the secret to building Bryggen is something that you find right here in America: good old-fashioned graham crackers!  

Photo: Lisa Roberts / Flickr
Let your imagination run free as you decorate your Christmas village.

List of ingredients

  1. 1 pkg. graham crackers 
  2. white decorating cookie icing (refrigerate so it will better hold things together)
  3. colored candy-coated chocolates
  4. mini candy canes
  5. mini marshmallows
  6. chocolate bars
  7. gumdrops
  8. sprinkles
  9. powdered sugar
  10. other candies of your choice


  1. cutting board
  2. serrated knife (please ask an adult
    to supervise)

Photos: Tiffany Harvey / Flickr

Photos: Tiffany Harvey / Flickr

Simple steps to build your houses

  1. Place a graham cracker on the cutting board. Line up your knife where you want to cut and nice and smoothly just saw the cracker. Cut from the middle centerline to the top centerline. Do this for two crackers.  Then break two others in the middle and you will be left with two full pieces with points and four half pieces. One piece will be needed for the base.
  2. To assemble the house’s structure, start by frosting the edge of a piece and begin to put things together, piece by piece. Give a bit of time for the icing to harden.
  3. To add the roof, you simply frost the edges of the tops of the walls and roofline, and add two crackers for each side of the roof. Again, let harden.
  4. Repeat the steps to build five houses. 

Decorate your houses

Here you will need your icing to attach everything. Here are some ideas:

  • Have fun adding windows and doors with squares and rectangles of your chocolate bars.  
  • Decorate the roof with colorful red and green candy-coated chocolates or mini marshmallows
  • Add welcoming candy cane posts. 
  • Simply use icing to create interesting designs on the roofs. 
  • Sprinkle the roofs with snowy powdered sugar. 

And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If something breaks, with these simple ingredients, you can easily build a replacement house or repair something along the way.

Welcome to Gingerbread Town!

You can arrange your five houses on a graham cracker base or on a decorative tray. Sprinkle with snowy white powder sugar. Welcome to Bryggen and a happy holiday season!

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.