Thursday, October 20, 2016

Alesund, Norway created new image after tragic event

Some Norwegians say Alesund is Norway’s most beautiful city. Cobblestone streets, buildings adorned with turrets, spires, and medieval ornamentation, and a breathtaking landscape of mountains looming in every direction give Alesund a storybook quality.
View of Alesund, Norway, a city build in the shadow of mountains.
A city reinvents itself

A catastrophic fire swept through Alesund in 1904 destroying 800 wooden houses. The tragedy provided an opportunity for the city to rebuild in a new way. It emerged a mere three years later as the only Norwegian city built in the popular Art Nouveau style. Because it is so different from other Norwegian towns, visitors enjoy seeing and walking among these charming structures.
Visitors love wandering among the Art nouveau style buildings
in Alesund, Norway.
We took a bus to the viewpoint at the top of Mt. Aksla on the city’s outskirts. Or you can walk up 418 paved steps to the top. Because the road up the mountain is so steep electric cables under the asphalt surface keep it dry in all seasons.

Walk or take a bus to the top of Mt. Aksla?
The weather was pleasant—even sunny--and the views of the architecturally-quaint city center were impressive.We strolled on a few trails in this fine outdoor area that gets plenty of use from locals. Some trails have lights so they can be used during the long, dark winter months when there’s very little daylight.
Kirkegata, the town’s most famous street and commercial center boasts a long line of Art Nouveau houses featuring distinctive gables, turrets, and towers. One of the finest buildings is the century-old Alesund Church, and our guide was sure to point out the city’s narrowest house, just a little wider than the door.

Islands connected by tunnels
Built on three islands, water surrounds every part of Alesund, Norway.
Built on three small islands, this large fishing port has a population of 45,000.  The islands are connected by sub-sea tunnels, a major engineering feat. The first tunnel we went in crosses the fjord to the north 30 meters below the sea bed. When we emerged from the second tunnel on the island of Valderhaug, we traveled on to Giske, which means “flat island” in Norse, where we visited the noted Marble Church. With so many islands, you’re never far away from water, but the water on the coast never freezes because the Gulf Stream keeps temperatures relatively mild.

Almost everyone in Alesund has a boat. Sailing is very popular, and fishing is a mainstay. Cod and salmon brought settlers to Alesund’s shores 9,000 years ago, It was a center for Viking trading by the 8th century. It started exporting dried and salted codfish (called Klippfisk) in 1824 which led to full seaport rights 24 years later. Fishing is still the most important industry.
Nature’s magnificence unfolds

Yes, that's a surfer riding a wave to the beach--in Norway.
Beyond the city is a striking terrain of lush valleys, sparkling fjords, and blustery islands. Nine-mile-long Geirangerfjord, which is surrounded by imposing, snow-covered mountain peaks, rushing waterfalls, and abundant green vegetation is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The southern coast of Godoy Island offers long stretches of white sand beaches and world-renowned surfing (best in winter). Who knew you could surf in Norway?
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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