It’s impossible to walk swiftly in Ålesund—there is simply too much to see.
This is a city of color, shape and detail, and taking your time pays off in big ways. Spread across seven islands on the west coast of Norway, this little fishing town of 40,000 is perhaps the prettiest in the country.
In 1904, a fire burned through Ålesund (Ol-eh-suhnd), destroying 90% of the city and leaving many to believe that the town was gone for good. Miraculously, money and help came pouring in from around Europe, and over the next three years, a new Ålesund rose up from the ashes, this time built in stone.
The great renaissance of Ålesund is an inspiring story: 52 young Norwegian architects, some of them only recently graduated from university, arrived in the city and put to test their skills, art and vision. They carried with them the popular style of the time (Jugenstil) but given Norway’s new independence, they also invented their own national style.
As one of the young architects, Sigurd Lunde said: “We require a style that protects us against historical imitation but nevertheless allows us to realize and develop the possibilities inherent in our national character.”
Today, Ålesund is a delight to walk through, rich with architecture and design: so many doorknobs, wood panels, shaped windows and unconventional mailboxes that all carry some hidden flourish of art, a nod to a century ago when people built things to last and to look beautiful.
As such, it’s impossible to walk through the city of Ålesund and not take several thousand pictures. This gallery includes a few of my favorite captures in the few days I was lucky enough to visit Ålesund. It is not an endorsement of iPhone or any Apple products — only an endorsement of what is probably my favorite town in Norway.
- Nat Geo Expeditions