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Cruising Article –04/26/2012

Enjoy pleasant walks through the Art Nouveau city of Alesund, Norway

Alesund, Norway

Alesund is a small city located at the top of the fjord regions of Norway that is known for its unique, Art Nouveau architecture. Surrounded by the Sunnmore Alps, this charming destination is an artistic masterpiece that manages to complement its stunning environment. Just over 100 years ago, much of the port city was destroyed in a massive fire that claimed nearly 1,000 buildings. After receiving aid from Germany, much of the city was rebuilt in the popular style, earning it consideration as one of the most picturesque ports in all of Norway. While on a European shore excursion, travelers will have numerous opportunities to take short walks throughout the city and its outskirts as they explore this unique and colorful locale.

Take a walk through the lush Valldal Valley and Trollstigen

Spanning almost 20 miles, the Valldal Valley stretches from the southern fjords to the famous Trollstigen Mountains in the north. Situated between sheer cliffs, the hills are teeming with wildflowers and fertile grounds that produce cherries, raspberries and apples. Every July, locals celebrate the annual Strawberry Festival as they run around picking wild fruit. A cool river runs through the center of Valldal creating numerous large waterfalls that are conveniently located right along the road.

While traveling along the famous Trollstigen (Troll's Path), individuals enjoying a Scandinavian cruise may have to fasten their seatbelts as they careen down this windy mountain road. As one of Norway's most visited attractions, this serpentine adventure leads visitors through beautiful scenery as far as the eyes can see. Consisting of 11 hairpin turns and steep inclines, Trollstigen is a dizzying adventure.

Once the mountains stop spinning, however, visitors will reach Trollveggen (Troll Wall), which is the tallest vertical rock face on the continent. At 3,600 feet tall, this cliff is on the bucket list for many climbing enthusiasts and base jumpers who love to get their heart pumping.

Learn about the history of Alesund's Art Nouveau revitalization

Walking around the city is an ideal way for travelers on European shore excursions to get a better look at the elaborate and eccentric Art Nouveau architecture. Its unified design offers several opportunities for romantic photos with the pastel-hued buildings in the foreground and the snowcapped Alps in the background.

At the Jugendstilsenteret (Art Nouveau Center), visitors will be informed by their knowledgeable guide about the history of the art movement as they gape at the elaborate stone facade's spires, turrets and ornate carvings. Resembling a Disney castle from the outside, the center was the first new building to be named a landmark. The exhibitions inside the museum feature numerous examples of Art Nouveau objects such as jewelry and household items while explaining the fascinating history behind the city's unique charm.

Following the fire of 1904, architects and construction workers joined forces to rapidly rebuild this important port city. Amidst the building projects, Norway was working on breaking their ties with Sweden and becoming an independent country. As a result, much of their architecture features national emblems. Keen on creating a completely new Norwegian appeal, designers were appointed the task of creating a city that exemplified the nation's independence.

For an all-encompassing view of picture-perfect Alesund, those on a European cruise vacation can book a shore excursion to reach Mount Aksla, which towers above the city. With 418 steps to the top, visitors may want to drive instead of walk, though both journeys lend amazing vistas of the Alps, fjords and one-of-a-kind Art Nouveau architecture.