The Art Nouveau Town of Ålesund
Ålesund is taken right out of a fantasy world. A multitude of towers, spires and ornamental features catches the eye, regardless of whether the town is gleaming in the evening sun or glittering with raindrops. And just at the doorstep of the famous Geiranger
with its spectacular fjords.
The Great Fire
Ironically, we have the flames in 1904 to thank for the town having one of the world’s most concentrated collections of Art Nouveau architecture. On a stormy winter’s night in January 1904, a fire raged through the town centre, and 850 houses burned to the ground. The massive amount of help that came from all over the world once the devastation of the fire became known was impressive. Only three days after the fire, the first German ships came with emergency assistance, at the instigation of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
From ashes to Art Noveau
The reconstruction of the town took place at a time of economic depression and extensive unemployment in Norway and craftsmen and architects from everywhere in the country streamed into the town in the hope of finding work. Many of them were internationally orientated through their training, practice and study tours.
In the period 1904-1907 some 50 Norwegian architects were commissioned to design new stone buildings. The reconstruction gave the town a unique architectural expression and a distinctive local variation of Art Nouveau within a concentrated area. The town reflects the different aspects of the building style in a lively and diverse way.
Lift your gaze while you explore the town and you will discover the many and varied expressions of Art Nouveau. You will find elements of German Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) with elegant organic lines and asymmetry, hewn stone buildings inspired by American architecture and National Romantic details from the architecture of the stave churches.
Ålesund is a magical town taken right out of a fantasy world. There are several ways to experience and explore Ålesund and we highly recommend taking a tour from Fjord Tours. Fjord Tours offers two stunning trips that includes stops in Ålesund - the Geirangerfjord & Norway in a nutshell® tour
, or the Hjørundfjord & Norway in a nutshell® tour
. These tours also includes a Hurtigruten coastal cruise and other great highlights from Fjord Norway!
You can also drive to Ålesund from Trondheim. It takes about 5-6 hours, but with a little detour, you can experience the Atlantic Ocean Road
on your way.