Bergen is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Its North Sea beaches make it a popular destination for tourists. In 2001, the municipality was formed from a merger of the former municipalities of Egmond, Schoorl, and the smaller community of Bergen proper that had existed since 1811.
Since about 1900, Bergen has been the home of many painters, writers and architects. Some of the work of this "Bergen School" is on exhibit at Museum Kranenburgh. The neighbourhood of Park Meerwijk, constructed in 1915, is made up entirely of villas in Amsterdam School style. There are regular art fairs in Bergen, as well as an annual music festival (the Holland Music Sessions in August) and arts festival (the Kunsttiendaagse in October).
The Egmond Abbey, founded in the 10th century, became the most important cultural center of medieval Holland. The abbey was protected by the House of Egmond, which eventually became a powerful noble family. The three towns of Egmond have been mentioned since the 10th century as well. Both the Egmond Abbey and Egmond Castle in Egmond aan den Hoef were destroyed in 1573 on order of William the Silent during the Dutch Revolt.
The town of Bergen developed around a chapel and is mentioned as far back as the tenth century as well. An old local legend is the "Miracle of Bergen", which is said to have occurred during the St. Elisabeth's Flood of 1421. The story goes that the schout (sheriff) of Bergen found a chest containing hosts (the thin wafers used in Holy Communion) from the church of Petten which had floated to Bergen during the flood. The seawater that penetrated the chest had turned into blood. There is also a second miracle story, thought to have occurred in 1422, whereby hosts turned into blood. On the site where the miracle of Bergen is said to have happened, a chapel was erected. Bergen became a place of pilgrimage and Roman-Catholic processions were held at the site for centuries and are still ongoing today.
In the fifteenth century, the Ruïnekerk ("Ruined Church") was built on the site of the chapel and at the time was the largest of its kind in the province of North-Holland. In 1574, during the Eighty Years War against Spain, the church was looted and burned down by Dutch Protestants, but was later rebuilt to its current state.
In 1799, during the French Revolutionary Wars, a British-Russian army invaded North-Holland. At Bergen, a battle with the French-Batavian armies took place on 19 September. The Russisch Monument in Bergen commemorates this Battle of Bergen.
Bergen was one of the main stations on the narrow gauge railway between Alkmaar and Bergen aan Zee, which ran between 1905 and 1955. One of the locomotives which operated on this line, 'Bello' stood for many years in the town centre as a memorial, and is now preserved at the Museumstoomtram Hoorn - Medemblik.