The citizens of Ålesund were sound asleep when a three-hulled sailing boat glid into their harbour around 04.00. The waters of the inner harbour were almost mirror calm, reflecting Europe’s greatest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture.
There is an interesting story behind Ålesund’s proud and harmonious architecture. The tragic fire that broke out on a January night in 1904 razed 800 buildings, and ten thousand people lost their homes! It’s hard to believe, but only one person died during the great fire. As the prison warden watched the flames approach, he was forced to release his 14 prisoners. As they ran for their lives, he shouted as an afterthought: “Come back tomorrow!”
Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered four ships to sail north as soon as he received the news. They were loaded with food and medicine, blankets and building materials originally intended for one of the German colonies.
It took three years to reconstruct the town, with Art Nouveau architecture that borrows some of its decorative elements from Old Norse design. As an item of curiosity, you may be interested to know that the entire rebuilding project cost 19 million kroner.
At the moment, however, we suspect three sailors are getting some shut-eye, after making the journey from Bergen to Ålesund in about 27 hours.View 1 comments