Wooden buildings, fire and oxygen were always going to be a recipe for destruction, and the night of 23 January 1904 would be no exception. A great fire blazed through Alesund and in the space of 16 hours, the whole town burnt to the ground and ten thousand people were left homeless. Incredibly, only one person died.
Turmoil to Triumph
The reconstruction of the town started immediately and is a story of inspiration and innovation. Up until this point, nearly all houses were built of wood in Norway, but following the fire, stone and brick was chosen as the ideal material to rebuild the town in an Art Nouveau style. Uniquely, from the team of architects that began work, all of them were under the age of 35, and by 1907 the town was entirely rebuilt. After completion, Alesund was considered the most modern town in the world, and with this new label and appearance, it attracted more visitors than ever before.
A stroll through the town highlights the distinctive Art Nouveau architecture – no two houses are the same, each painted vividly in shades of pink, green and yellow, variously shaped windows and expressive motifs of flowers and leaves decorate a selection of buildings. No visit to Alesund is complete without a trip up to the summit of Mount Aksla View Point; from here you will be greeted with colourful panoramic views of a town surrounded by a range of mountains and beautiful fjords. When standing inside this picturesque setting, it is difficult to believe that such a place once rose from the ashes.