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It is easy to become fascinated with Alesund. The town is young at heart, but with an unusually dramatic story to tell. One stormy night a hundred years ago, the whole town centre burned to the ground. Only a few houses survived the devastation in 1904, and ten thousand people were made homeless. A new town rose phoenix-like from the ashes - in the distinctive Art Nouveau style with myriad turrets, spires and beautiful ornamentation, like something from a fairytale.
Today, the town is an attractive destination for visitors from Norway and abroad. Alesund is a modern, pulsating town with a varied cultural scene and exciting cafes and restaurants. Its rich assortment of shops and galleries mean that shopping enthusiasts will also feel at home.
Once in Alesund and Sunnmore, you have swift and easy access to countless destinations and attractions that rival any in Norway or abroad. You would be hard put to find an area with so many natural and cultural attractions within an equivalent radius. You will be fascinated by the world-famous Geirangerfjord with its untamed waterfalls cascading down precipitous mountainsides.
See the dramatic Hjorundfjord which most people find breathtaking. Drive across the Atlantic Road, which winds its dramatic way across small islands and reefs right out at the ocean's edge, and take the dramatic Trollstigen scenic road, which attracts tourists in the thousands from all over the world.
Aalesunds Museum is beautifully situated right in the middle of Ã…lesund town centre with excellent harbour view and museum park. The museum building itself is originally from 1919, and still today its distinctive character shows signs of earlier times. Aalesunds Museum presents the town history in an exciting way through artefacts, photographs and paintings. Aalesunds Museum has got exhibitions about the Second World War, and an old country store. Study the impressive town model depicting Ã…lesund in the year 1898; this will give you insight into how the town looked before the devastating fire in 1904. A visit here will tell you all about the great town fire of 1904, and the reconstruction that gave Ã…lesund its unique place in Norwegian architectural history. Take a walk around and explore the many exhibitions on fisheries and boats, and make a visit to the Fisheries Museum in town where you can learn more about this important part of Ã…lesund's history.
In Stordal municipality the beautiful farm Ytste-Skotet lies on a mountain ledge, overlooking the Storfjord. The "skot" is the name of an outcrop in the mountain, and there are three farms here, named after their location. People tell stories of settlement as far back as the Viking era on "skotet", and the last owners on Ytste-Skotet moved out as late as in 1854. In 1989 the foundation "Storfjordens Venner" ("Friends of the Storfjord") took on the responsibility of the farm and its land, and they have done a great deal of volunteer work to renovate it. Ytste-Skotet is today complete with all the buildings a large farm needs, and it is still without electricity and running water. The farm is today a living and vital museum, and is a section of SunnmÃ¸re Regional Museum. It is open for visitors every day from May to October, and it is possible for private groups and schools to book a stay here and staying over night, to try the old way of living, in harmony with nature. Private arrangements such as weddings, anniversary parties and gatherings for firms, companies and organizations are also held here.
The Art Nouveau Town
On the night of January 23rd 1904 a devastating fire raged through Ã…lesund, and after only 16 hours 850 houses were burnt down, and 10.000 people were rendered homeless. After the fire there were only 230 houses left in Ã…lesund's town centre, but after a remarkable effort from the local population, travellers from near and far, and other contributors, the town had been rebuilt already in 1907. The architects that designed the houses were young Norwegians, and they were influenced by both national romantic ideas as well as that time period's popular architectural style; Art Nouveau. The buildings are decorated with towers, turrets and imaginative and colourful ornaments. When you go on your walk, take a look at all parts of the buildings, that's when you will notice all the small details that make these houses so beautiful. Today Alesund is renowned both nationally and internationally for its architecture, and is a member of "RÃ¨seau Art Nouveau Network", a European network of Art Nouveau cities, including among others Glasgow, Barcelona and Vienna.
The Town Park
The Town Park in Ã…lesund was built at the west side of Mount Aksla in 1885, by Ã…lesund municipality. A gardener planned the park after the design of other popular parks in those days, where the area's topography is the basis of its construction. The part of the park that faces the street was constructed in 1921-23. In the park there are a variety of plants and trees, and the famous 418 steps long staircase leading up to Mount Aksla is also to be found here. In the park there are two statues of historic men that both have a connection to Ã…lesund. One of the statues portrays the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, in appreciation of his help after the Town Fire in 1904. The other statue is of the Viking Gange-Rolf, also known as Rollo. He is said to be from the island Giske outside Ã…lesund, and fled to France in 911, where he founded Normandy. He was the forefather of William the Conqueror, who conquered England in 1066, making Rollo the forefather of the English royal family as well. In connection with the millennium celebration of the conquest of Normandy in 911, Ã…lesund received the 2,65 metres tall bronze statue of Rollo as a gift from the city of Rouen in 1911. Today there are three such large statues of Rollo in the world, and they can be found in Rouen, Ã…lesund, and Fargo in the USA.
In Ã…lesund you can visit the Town Mountain and viewpoint Aksla. From this location there is a panoramic view of the archipelago, the beautiful town centre, and the amazing SunnmÃ¸re Alps. Fjellstua, which is situated at the top, has got an outdoor restaurant, cafÃ©, and a platform to enjoy the view. To go up to Aksla you can either take the 418 steps that go up from the Town Park or you can drive Borgundfjordveien/Fjelltunveien all the way up.
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