"There is probably no Art Nouveau environment in Europe which is quite so characteristic as Ålesund. Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt or Avenue Louise in Brussels are impressive, but nothing can compare to Ålesund when it comes to extent and diversity."
(Director General of the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Mr. Stephan Tschudi-Madsden, Ph.D., 1975.)
Why? - It started with the great fire on the stormy night of 23 January 1904, at 2:15am. In a few dramatic hours, 800 houses went up in smoke and 11,000 people were left homeless. What used to be Ålesund was virtually destroyed.
Ålesund's reconstruction was deemed to be a project of national importance and more than 50 architects came from all over Norway to take part in it.
It was a unique possibility to develop a new, urban Norwegian architecture in stone, brick and plaster. The architects were inspired by international - especially German - influences, as well as by National Romanticism.
In the cource of just three years, a new town rose like a phoenix from the ashes. More than 320 Art Nouveau buildings were constructed side by side in a compact centeral area, creating what is perhaps Europe's most complete Art Nouveau cityscape. Equally impressive is the town's interplay with its beautiful setting: the sea and sounds, the mountains, islands and fjords.
Welcome to Ålesund!
"Ålesund is exeptional amongst Norwigen cities. Hardly anywhere else has such an extensive and complete environment been preserved, providing us with a unique example of a concentrated city in a small area, and what this once meant. Spaces created on a human scale, and with consistent but varied features, are qualities that above all characterise Ålesund."
(Professor Christian Norberg-Schultz, 1975.)