The town is young at heart, but has an unusually dramatic story to tell. The stormful winter night of January the 23rd 1904, a devastating fire raged through the streets of Ålesund. During 16 hours, the whole centre of the town - 850 houses - burned to the ground and left 10.000 people homeless.
After the fire, only 230 houses were remaining in Ålesund. After a remarkable effort from the local population, travellers from near and far and other contributors, the town was rebuilt already in 1907. A new town rose phoenix-like from the ashes - in the distinctive Art Nouveau style. The architects who designed the houses were young Norwegians, influenced by both national romantic ideas as well as that time period's popular architectural style; the Jugendstil or in English Art Nouveau.
The buildings are decorated with towers, turrets and imaginative and colourful ornaments. Taking a walk, look at all parts of the buildings - that's when you will notice all the small details which make these houses so beautiful. Today, Ålesund is renowned both nationally and internationally for its architecture, and is a member of "Rèseau Art Nouveau Network", a European network of Art Nouveau cities, including among others Glasgow, Barcelona and Vienna.
Today, the historical buildings are housing a charming town with exciting cafeterias and restaurants, shops, galleries and a different accomodational opportunities. A wide selection of shops and galleries make even shopping enthusiasts feel at home. Along the picturesque fishing harbour of Brosundet lie sea houses which originally were used for receiving and preparing of fish. Today they are housing hotels, offices and shops. If you are lucky, you might also have the opportunity to buy shrimps directly from a local fisherman? Take the trip ut the 418 steps to the mountain Aksla - the reward will be panoramic view of the coast, fjords and mountains surrounding the city.
Looking for refreshing and spectacular experiences from what may be the richest variety of natural contrasts in the world? Ålesund is also a natural starting point in this regard. Nature is a spectacular frame around the city, with architectural-, food- and cultural experiences, shopping and street life. However, within a short period of time you can personally discover everything, from a beautiful coast line and skerries, deep valleys, fjords and spectacular mountains - either on your own or as a part of arranged trips.
Ålesund is just a couple of hours away from the unique world heritage area of Geiranger. The trip offers great experiences in itself, whether you travel with a boat along the fjords or with a car/bus on spectacular roads through the landscape of fjords, valleys and mountains.