Alesund

Everyone who comes to Alesund will hear the story of the city fire in 1904, including myself.

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City fires used to be a recurring event in Norwegian cities. The houses were all built in the typical Norwegian style, made of wood. Often a single fire was enough to burn down an entire city. However, as this was in some ways the normality, the inventive Norwegians were quite prepared for this by producing prefabricated houses on stock throughout the country.

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Where there was enough timber, there were always carpenters who built houses from it. These were assembled on site, then dismantled and either sold immediately to the cities or stored. When there had been another major fire, the craftsmen were on the spot quickly and brought with them their finished houses and after just a few months a town could be built up again.

After the city fire in Alesund, however, stone houses were built to prevent future large fires. But of course the whole thing also had to be paid for. This is where the German Emperor Wilhelm II. comes in. He spent a lot of time in Norway and was quite fond of the country and its people, so after the fire he did not let himself be lumpen, but donated a large sum for the reconstruction of Alesund. With this money the city center was rebuilt in the style of the time. This architectural style was Art Nouveau. That is why Alesund today boasts a complete urban architecture in Art Nouveau style.

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The houses from 100 years ago already look beautiful. Above all, the people of Alesund knew how to avoid architectural disasters so that today Alesund presents a very successful mixture of old and new.

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The visit was also a bit sporty for me. I went to the Aksla, the local mountain of Alesund. From above we could admire the many islands around the city. There I understood why ships are the main means of transport here.

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On the way up we were also awaited by a forefather of many important European ruling dynasties. Rollo, the ancestor of the Normans, they have set a monument at the entrance to the mountain. According to legend, he is said to have started from here for a raid in the Kingdom of the Franks.  However, he was not very successful in his endeavor and in 911 he was on the brink of complete defeat. His way out of this disaster? He let himself be baptized and as a good Christian, he received a small fief in the city of Rouen from the king. This was the founding of Normandy and thus also one of the most important European ruling dynasties. Only 150 years later, the sixth successor of Rollo, William the Conqueror, conquered England and put the royal crown on his head. Since then, there has been no further successful invasion of the British Isles. In the end, they were quite successful, these Northmen.

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I was particularly surprised in Alesund how clean the water in the harbour was. I could see to the bottom of the harbour basin. It is obviously possible to bring shipping and the environment together. We bears are very much in favour!

Your very ferocious Grizzly

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