Ålesund is a town and municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It is part of the traditional district of Sunnmøre, and the center of the Ålesund Region. It is a sea port, and is noted for its unique concentration of Art Nouveau architecture.
The town of Ålesund is the administrative centre of Ålesund Municipality, as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district. Ålesund Municipality has a population of 45,033 as of 2013, while the greater Ålesund urban area has a population of 48,460 (this also includes most of neighboring Sula Municipality as well).
(Photo: Ålesund by night)
The port of Ålesund was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838. It was completely surrounded by Borgund Municipality. The port of Ålesund received town rights in 1848. On 1 January 1875, part of Borgund Municipality (population: 902) was transferred to the town of Ålesund. In 1922, another part of Borgund Municipality (population: 1,148) was transferred to the town of Ålesund. On 1 January 1968, most of the neighboring municipality of Borgund (population: 20,132) was merged into Ålesund. This merger more than doubled the population of Ålesund, for a new total population of 38,589. On 1 January 1977, the island of Sula and some small surrounding islets (population: 6,302) were separated from Ålesund to form the new Sula Municipality.
Legend has it that Gangerolv (outside of Norway better known as Rollo), the 10th century founder of the dynasty of the dukes of Normandy, hailed from the community of Giske, north-west of Ålesund. At least three statues of Rolle exist: in the town park in Ålesund, in the city of Rouen, France, and in Fargo, North Dakota, United States.
(Photo: The statue of Rollo in the town park of Ålesund)
In the night of 23 January 1904, the town was the scene of the Ålesund Fire, one of the most terrible of the many conflagrations to which Norwegian towns, once built largely of wood, have been subjected. Practically the entire town was destroyed during the night, a gale aiding the flames, and the population had to leave the town in the middle of the night with only a few minutes' notice. Only one person died in the fire, the 76-year-old Ane Heen, but more than 10,000 people were left without shelter.
(Photo: Ålesund before the Great Fire of 1904)
Shetland bus monument in Ålesund
Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany had often been on vacation to Sunnmøre. After the fire, he sent four warships with materials to build temporary shelters and barracks. After a period of planning, the town was rebuilt in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the architectural style of the time. The structures were designed by approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects, most of them educated in Trondheim and Charlottenburg, Berlin, drawing inspiration from all over Europe. To honor Wilhelm, one of the most frequented streets of the town is named after him.
Jugendstilsenteret - The Art Nouveau Centre of Norway
(Photo: The Art Noveau Centre in Ålesund (Jugendstilsenteret)
The town has an unusually consistent architecture, most of the buildings having been built between 1904 and 1907. Jugendstilsenteret is a national interpretation centre, visitors can learn more about the town fire, the rebuilding of the town and the Art Nouveau style. Ålesund is a partner in the Art nouveau network, a European network of co-operation created in 1999 for the study, safeguards and development of the Art Nouveau.
(Video: Airstrike on Ålesund during World War 2)
The term "Little London" was often applied to the community during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany due to the Norwegian resistance work that took place here. Among other things, the city was central to the flights to Scotland and England.
The city has a pronounced maritime climate with mild and windy winters; the coldest month of the year, January, has a mean temperature of 3.3 °C (37.9 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded at Ålesund Airport, Vigra was −11 °C (12 °F). The climate is extremely mild for the latitude and inland areas at similar parallels especially in lowland Sweden see much hotter summers and colder winters. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Ålesund is 94 F°.
(Photo: Slinningsbålet [The Great Bonfire of Slinningen] is internationally famous, and gathers people from all over the world. It is lit every year in the end of June to mark the summer solstice.)
The Norwegian Centre of Art Nouveau Architecture, Jugendstilsenteret, is situated in Ålesund. It is a museum and competence center with exhibitions telling the story of the town fire and Art Nouveu/Jugendstil in Norway and Europe.
(Photo: The local newspaper Sunnmørsposten's editorial building)
The local newspapere is Sunnmørsposten, founded in 1882 and published seven days a week. Ålesund is the site of the annual Norwegian Food Festival.
Ålesund has a university college, Ålesund University College (Norwegian: Høgskolen i Ålesund, with approximately 1,800 students and 150 employees. The Ålesund School of Art (Norwegian: Ålesund Kunstskole) is a school for visual arts located in Ålesund. The Norwegian School of Management had a campus in Ålesund, but it closed on 1 August 2008.
(Photo: Ålesund University College)
Ålesund videregående skole, also known as Latinskolen, formerly Aalesund Lærd- og Realskole, is the oldest secondary school in Ålesund, having been established in 1863. Of the six upper secondary schools in Ålesund, including Latinskolen, Fagerlia videregående skole is the largest with room for approximately 1,000 students.
(Photo: Ålesund videregående skole [Latinskolen])
The local football team, Aalesunds Fotballklubb ("Aalesund's Football Club"), (AaFK), was founded in 1914. The team played in the Norwegian premier league for the first time in the 2003 season. The club won its first Norwegian FA cup in 2009 and won again in 2011. They played their home matches at Kråmyra Stadium until the 2005 season, when they relocated to the new Color Line Stadium, located approximately 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) outside the town centre. AaFK's supporter club is called "Stormen" and has about 2,000 members.
(Photo: Aalesunds FK's cup-winning team of 2009)