We had been in Ålesund Norway for just a few minutes when I posted this picture on social media and asked rhetorically “Who knew Ålesund was such so gorgeous?”
Well, apparently a lot of people knew and certainly those who have been there know of the interesting architecture and adorable buildings.
But also architects and students of architecture know of Ålesund because of the large concentration of art nouveau buildings, considered the largest in on the European continent.
Ålesund – the Art Nouveau Town
Like many cities, large and small around the world, Ålesund was defined by a major fire at a time when most structures were made of wood. For Ålesund, that year was 1904. More than 800 structures were destroyed on a cold winter’s night in January 1904 and immediately the entire country devoted remarkable resources to rebuilding the city. In just about three years, more than 300 buildings replaced those destroyed.
This is what Ålesund looks like now.
As we drove into town along those adorable cobblestone streets, we passed a couple of shops loading up kayaks and other outdoor gear.
The city of 50,000 is an extremely active community, we learned, where kayaking, hiking and cycling are a healthy part of their lifestyle.
The canals were filled with colorful kayaks and from the window of our hotel, anchored directly into the water, we could have fished had we chosen to. The yellow building above is our hotel. Instead, we chose explore.
The building to the left here is Aksla-Fjellstua, the highest point in Ålesund. Notice the little zig-zag line. Those are steps, 415 of them. We were told that many locals run those steps every morning for their work out.
We didn’t do that, but we did explore the German bunkers from WWII that remain at the top of the hill, overlooking the harbor. And we enjoyed a little cake-like treat called a “svele.” It’s somewhat like a pancake folded over and filled with butter and sugar. It was like a less-processed version of a Twinkie, if a Twinkie was actually tasty. I guess if you eat enough of those, you’re going to need to climb those 415 steps every day to avoid a heart attack.
Instead, we walked and Bruce took lots and lots of pictures. We both wished we had scheduled more time to explore this beautiful little Art Nouveau city.