In the center of the town of Bergen, Norway, the sweet smell of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice emanates from an old public swimming pool arena. Inside is a massive baked and sugar-coated city made out of gingerbread—claimed to be the largest gingerbread village in the world.
Every year since the Christmas tradition began in 1991, Bergen’s community comes together to construct the miniature wintery wonderland. In the video above of this year’s Pepperkakebyen (Norwegian for “the gingerbread village”), you can take a virtual tour through the rows of delicious houses, towers, trains, cars, and ships that are almost entirely made from real gingerbread. The city contains over 2,000 gingerbread houses flanking a mountainside and dotting around a lake.
Building gingerbread houses has been a holiday pastime since the early 1800s. It’s said that after the publication of the Grimm’s fairytale Hansel and Gretel, German bakers began creating ornamented candy houses out of gingerbread. The city of Bergen has taken the tradition to a whole new level.
In 2012, builders showed the labor and collaboration of the construction process in a behind-the-scenes video. Thousands of individuals—“kids from one to ninety-two,” the video captions—contributed to the sweet village.
Even though the inedible components have prevented it from beating New York’s Gingerbread Lane (a 1,020 gingerbread structure) for the Guinness World Record, Bergen’s Pepperkakebyen is still an enormous and impressive feat. You can see the Gingerbread City on display at the Sentralbadet from November 19 till December 31.
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