Norway's art nouveau city
Situated on a cluster of small islands at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord is Ålesund, a charming port city renowned for its elaborate buildings with its its myriad of turrets, spires and other decorative touches.
In 1904, a large factory fire virtually wiped out this entire city, but after a remarkable three-year effort it was rebuilt in that period's popular “modern” style of architecture, Art Nouveau. Today Ålesund is among Norway’s most visited cities, with National Geographic calling it a “backdrop for a Nordic fairytale”.
For a glimpse into the city’s history, the Ålesund Museum houses an exhibition on the great 1904 fire and the impressive rebuilding period. The Sunnmøre Museum provides another good glimpse into the past with some 40 historic homes and fishing vessels on display.
If you’d rather have an aerial view of this historical city, the view from the top of Mount Aksla will not disappoint! From the municipal park in the city centre, a pathway with 418 steps leads up to the viewing area called Kniven (“the Knife”). Here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the archipelago, the city centre and the snow-capped peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. Hungry after those stairs? Have a bite and a beverage at the Fjellstua mountain lodge up at the top.
As Ålesund is a popular stop on the Norwegian Coastal Voyage, it makes an ideal starting point for exploring the area’s surroundings, including the beautiful coastline, deep valleys, fjords and mountains. The city boasts a variety of shops, galleries and cafes, and nature lovers nature lovers can take part in activities in the area like angling, sailing, hiking and kayaking.