Every city in Norway, that we have visited, whether big or small, reveal their past….their triumphs, their struggles, their histories. Today, in Alesund, we are starting out where we left off, on the canal at the statue of the “Wanderer” and now we are headed into the old part of the city …………..Set on a hooked-shaped peninsula, the city is also the home base for the largest cod-fishing fleet, with some of the best seafood available!
In 1904, the city was destroyed by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and the town center destroyed. German emperor, Wilhelm II, liked to stay nearby and sent German masons to help rebuild the city, in the characteristic stye of the times, Jugend-style/Art Nouveau. Three years later, the city center was again thriving with Norwegian elements added, as all sorts of whimsical, folkloric flourishes were added to the mix. Wilhelm, who had footed the bill, was very pleased! The main street is named after him, so let’s move on and see the city………
Walking along further, we see some more architectural pieces……..along the canal………….
and the gardens along the canal too.
and the beautiful neighborhoods……. my favorite fir tree is this one………
before we come to some very new buildings by the town square fountain……..
with more sculpture pieces…….they like their artwork here…………
and we find some interesting history……in Joachim Rønneberg. Rønneberg was a 23-year-old resistance fighter in command of eight comrades, who had been told by British intelligence that the water plant at the Norsk Hydro Plant in Norway was distilling heavy water that was vital to Hitler’s war effort. The British knew that Germany had chosen heavy water, or deuterium oxide, to moderate atom-splitting chain reactions to produce bomb-grade plutonium. They knew that the plant had been extracting heavy water since 1934 for making fertilizer, and had been taken over by the Nazis as the world’s best source for the atomic weapon program. Rønneberg’s team, all carrying cyanide capsules to swallow if captured, didn’t know a thing about the atomic weapon program. Rønneberg, who came from one of the most prominent families in Alesund, later stated,” none of us were there for the heavy water, or for London. We have seen our country invaded by the Germans, our friends killed and humiliated, their families starved, their rights curtailed. We were there for Norway, for the freedom of its lands and people from Nazi rule.”
The American film, “The Heroes of Telemark,” starring Kirk Douglas, was a fact-flawed version of what happened that day in Norway. In one of the most celebrated commando raids of the war, the demolition team sneaked past guards and barracks full of German troops, set the explosives and blew up Hitler’s hope for the key ingredient to create the first atomic bomb. Rønneberg and his team received the highest of Norway’s decorations for military gallantry.
Margit Johnsen, nicknamed Malta-Margit, also has her own street and sculpture in Alesund. She was a Norwegian sailer in the merchant navy. When her vessel was targeted for a suicide mission in a convoy to Malta, Margit was given the opportunity to stay back. She declined and the convoy departed. Two days later it was attacked by German and Italian aircraft. The ship caught fire and was scuttled by its crew to avoid explosions of ammunition and fuel. Margit stood out for her courage and braveness to support the crew. Although Margit was a messenger aboard the ship, during the attacks she went around serving coffee and kept up morale. Afterwards, she showed a shell fragment she had in her pocket that had hit the steel helmet she had on her head. Together, with the captain and the ship’s cat, Margit was the last from the crew to leave the MV Talabot, when the ship was evacuated on March 27th, 1942. She was awarded the St Olav’s Medal with Oak Leaf Branch and several other decorations. After the war, she continued her work in the Norwegian merchant fleet until 1960. Her story is told in the history books as an example of the Norwegian women’s efforts during the war. Way to go Margit!
We are passing the larger and newer buildings………and one smart hotel……………..
And then from the Kongens Gate into the older section of Alesund………
Here, there is an array of stone and brick, three-story buildings, some with pastel-painted facades, that are decorated and topped off with a forest of towers and turrets, all ambling around several harbors.
Here is a Viking returning home from a night of pillaging …….ha ha!
there are many outdoor cafes……….
and then there is the art nouveau architecture……….everywhere……..
lots of fancy scrolling and details……
I really liked the theater entrance on the corner……..
This color is one of my favorites!
We have to get up high to put everything in perspective….. the canals, the old and the new, the mountains and the sea.
I like seeing this view too. You can see that there are little green areas between the buildings…….
Alesund is just the right size city……..not too big, not too small, beauty and history everywhere. I hope you have enjoyed our stay in Alesund, we most certainly did……..
See you soon from more of Norway! We’re headed back out to sea!