|Ålesund is one of the very few remaining Art Nouveau towns in the world, with an atmosphere and distinctive character valued by inhabitants and visitors alike. The amazing decorations the colourful facades, and all the turrets that look as if they have been taken from a Mediaeval fairytale book.
On the night of January 23rd 1904 a devastating fire raged through Ålesund, and after only 16 hours 850 houses were burnt down, and 10,000 people were rendered homeless. After the fire there were only 230 houses left in Ålesund´s town centre, but after a remarkable effort from the local population, travellers from near and far, and other contributors, the town had been rebuilt already in 1907.
The architects that designed the houses were young Norwegians, and they were influenced by both national romantic ideas as well as that time period´s popular architectural style; Art Nouveau. The buildings are decorated with towers, turrets and imaginative and colourful ornaments. When you go on your walk, take a look at all parts of the buildings, that´s when you will notice all the small details that make these houses so beautiful.
Today Ålesund is renowned both nationally and internationally for its architecture, and is a member of a European network of Art Nouveau cities, including among others Glasgow, Barcelona and Vienna.
Ålesund has one of the largest export harbours in the world for klippfisk, i.e. split, dried and salted cod, and a bustling, picturesque fishing port along the old harbour Brosundet with Skansegata where you can buy fresh fish and prawns.
The town has a rich and lively history behind it, even though it was only granted municipal status in 1848, thanks largely to resistance on the parts of both Bergen and Trondheim to division of trading rights.
The Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten) has daily departures in Ålesund.
The Art Nouveau Centre in Ålesund documents the town´s unique architectural history with the establishment of Art Nouveau architecture after the great Town Fire. Experience the fascinating and exciting history that is presented to you through a time machine and multi media shows that portrays the town before and after the fire.
Take a stroll through the many rooms in the listed building known as The Swan Pharmacy, and be mesmerized by the beautiful and authentic dècor. The permanent exhibitions include themes such as From ashes to Art Nouveau and The New Art and The Beautiful Art Nouveau Style.
The Art Nouveau has also got rooms with temporary exhibitions on loan from other museums. The Art Nouveau Centre has also got a distinct cafè where you can sit down and enjoy light snacks, cakes and coffee, and a souvenir shop with a lovely selection of memorabilia to bring home. One Saturday a month the Art Nouveau Centre offers cultural treats with fascinating lectures in the cafè.
From the terrace of Fjellstua on the mountain Aksla you can admire the breath taking view of the town, the skerries, and right across to the jagged Sunnmøre Alps. A pathway from the municipal park, comprised of 418 steps leads you to the top.
The Atlantic Sea-Park is beautifully situated along the ocean Front at Tueneset, approximately 3 km west of Ålesund, and represents one of the largest aquariums in Europe. The park contains 4000 m2 of public and exhibition space, in addition to 6000 m2 of coastal scenery, with fishing stands, hiking trails, bathing sites and outstanding diving venues.