Destination Ålesund

Ålesund differs from most other Norwegian cities with its large concentration of buildings in the Jugend style of architecture. The explanation for this is simple; the town burned to the ground during the Great Fire of 1904.

Top 5 reasons to visit

Playful Art Nouveau style architecture

The Art Nouveau Centre

The Aksla viewpoint

The Atlantic Sea Park

Close to Runde bird island

Rebuilding the city took a full three years, aided by numerous local contributions and large donations from the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The city planners agreed on consistently using the contemporary style of architecture, Jugend style (also known as Art Nouveau). It is a style characterized by artistic playfulness, fetching inspiration from organic forms and shapes in nature. Take a stroll in the magnificent central district and marvel at the beautiful houses with their numerous elaborate towers, spears and ornaments.

Viking history

As most towns and cities on the west coast, Ålesund is situated between fjords and mountains. Excavations show that the area has been populated since the Viking Age. Ålesund’s most famous Viking is Gange-Rolv, (“Walking Rolv”), who got his name because of his inability to ride horses. Myth has it that he didn’t lack the skill, only that he was too big for any horses to carry him. Despite this disadvantage he made it all the way to Normandie, France, where he established his own Norwegian kingdom abroad. The name “Normandie” is derived from the Norwegian word “Normann” denoting a Norwegian citizen.

Trade in fish

Ålesund grew into a centre based on trade, mainly in fish. From the late 19th century onwards the main article of export was klippfisk, sun dried fish, finding its way to the ports of Portugal and Spain where it is a staple in the traditional local dish Bacalao. Since trade took off in the early 20th century the town has been under constant expansion and is expected to reach 50 000 citizens by 2018. Sea based trade is still the pillar of the economy, which is remarkably strong and internationally oriented considering the town’s relatively small size. A great deal of Norway’s fish farms is also located in the fjords around the province in which Ålesund is the capital.

A city of seafood

The fruits of the sea are central to Ålesund, evident in the many respectable restaurants flaunting rich and varied menus with tempting fish and seafood dishes. For vivid and culinary experiences out of the ordinary, visit during the Norwegian Food Festival, held annually in the end of August. Walk around the jam packed central area smelling and sampling delicious seafood, catch an outdoor concert or witness one of the many national food related competitions. Chances are you won’t leave Ålesund hungry!

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