While the architecture of Bergen dates back hundreds of years, most of Ålesund was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1904—a common problem in old Norwegian towns, where buildings were largely constructed of wood. That disaster, however, turned out to be an unexpected blessing. Out of the ashes, the city was rebuilt in the then fashionable Art Nouveau style, and this time in stone and brick. Master builders from around Norway and Europe designed the unusually consistent streetscapes responsible for the city’s evocative atmosphere today. A very different side of Norwegian life can be experienced at Atlanterhavsparken, one of Northern Europe’s largest saltwater aquariums where the resident penguins are a star attraction.
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