Art Nouveau in Ålesund

In January 1904, a devastating fire raged through the Norwegian seaport of Ålesund. After only 16 hours, it had destroyed 850 wooden houses, leaving more than ten thousand people homeless. Only 230 houses remained in Ålesund’s town centre after the fire was extinguished, and the townspeople set out to rebuild their city with the help of donations, passersby, and construction workers, who were in the middle of an economic depression and flocked to the town for jobs. By 1907, the town had been rebuilt in brick and modelled after a new style its citizens deemed befitting newly sovereign Norway entering the new century: Art Nouveau. Today, it is known internationally among the likes of Barcelona and Vienna as one of the world’s most concentrated Art Nouveau cities.

There are varied expressions of art nouveau throughout the city, from the German Jugendstil to the national romantic Norwegian Dragestil inspired by the stave churches of Norway’s Viking past. When strolling through the streets of Ålesund, one cannot help but be amazed by the myriad of turrets, spires, geometric windows, and intricate ornamentation ranging from animal and human faces to dragons and elaborate flowers.

Jugendstilsenteret (The Art Nouveau Centre)

Jugendstilsenteret

Jugendstilsenteret is located in the old Swan Pharmacy from 1907 and is both a museum and a national centre of Art Nouveau. The centre offers insight into this style by means of authentic interiors and objects as well as temporary exhibitions.

Models of various buildings in Ålesund
Models of various buildings in Ålesund

The notion of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) is a core principle of Art Nouveau. Architecture, design, and art are integrated to give an overall impression of harmony. This is especially true of the Pharmacy Building, where every detail was meticulously planned by architect Hagbarth Schytte-Berg. See for yourself…

Hope you enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more 😉

Snapshots from Bergen

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Seamen's Monument Fountain in Bergen city centre

Seamen’s Monument Fountain in Bergen city centre

In March, Eirik and I spent a weekend in Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. There is no doubt that this small city holds a rich cultural heritage — many internationally acclaimed Norwegians, including composer Edvard Grieg, violinist Ole Bull, painter Johan Christian Dahl, and (more recently) comedic duo Ylvis, all hailed from this “city of the seven mountains”.

Statue of Edvard Grieg outside Grieghallen in Bergen

Statue of Edvard Grieg outside Grieghallen in Bergen

As you can tell by its nickname, Bergen is surrounded by mountains. The most popular vantage point is atop Mount Fløyen, accessible by taking the Fløibanen.

Fløibanen station in Bergen city centre

View of Bergen from Mount Fløyen

View of Bergen from Mount Fløyen

The colourful city centre is especially great for a leisurely stroll, with its many boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and museums. If you plan your trip in advance, you can definitely see all the highlights in a weekend.

View of Bryggen in Bergen, Norway

Things to keep in mind:

  • Over the course of one day, I experienced rain, hail, snow, and sun. Fortunately, my hotel had umbrellas that I could borrow during my stay. Check the weather and dress accordingly!
  • The best way to get to and from the airport via public transportation is by bus, which takes about 20 minutes. The tram (Bybanen) also goes between the city and the airport, but takes twice as long.

Highlights aside, I would love to visit Bergen again in the future — via train. Stay tuned for a more in-depth travel guide when I get around to it! 😉

Let me know what you think in the comments below! 🙂