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1000-1400 From Stone Age settlement to power centre

Illustrasjon steinalderenArchaeological finds have shown that humans have lived within the area of the present town for about 9000 years, but it was through the royal sagas of Snorri that the place name of Ålesund first emerged from the half light of history.

Places in Ålesund such as Steinvågen, Hundsvær, Nørve, Borgund and Vegsund provide the framework for dramatic happenings during Olav II (the Holy) Haraldsson’s flight before the Earl of Lade’s men in 1028. Borgund and Skuggen appear here in a rather unflattering light. The King had sent a messenger to Borgund and Skuggen to rally the people. They responded by killing the messenger...

Illustrasjonsfoto fra Giskespelet 2007The medieval market town of Borgund was, in the national context, the first ‘town’ in Sunnmøre in the middle of the 1100s. ‘Market Town Borgund’ flourished and the Giske clan on Giske, who were close to the throne, kept an eye on the place. In the 1100s Borgund was also the largest religious centre between Bergen and Nidaros there were all of four marble clad stone churches here.  
The Black Death and the Hanseatic League have been blamed for the market town losing its position as an economic centre in the 1400s and Bergen gained control over Sunnmøre’s trade.

Illustrasjon rollefigur Olav Den Hellige fra Giskespelet 2007

The Borgund market town from the Viking era has provided countless finds during excavations and today the site is a part of the exhibitions making up the Sunnmøre Museum in the area known as Borgundgavlen. The Museum is about 10 minutes by car east of the centre of town.

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1500-1700 A small seaport comes into being...

Illustrasjon av tettstedet rundt ÅlesundetÅlesund’s good harbour and the short distance out to rich fishing banks and seaways were important conditions for the growth of the new economic centre in Sunnmøre.  The town received limited small seaport rights in 1793 and full small seaport rights in 1824 - despite tough resistance from Bergen, Molde, Kristiansund and Trondheim.  It was in the 1500s that the first merchants settled along the sound between Aspøya and Nørvøya.

During the next two hundred years a small seaport grew up. The original Ålesund was just the shoreline on both sides of the sound.

Illustrasjon tidlig tettsted - handel i BergenIn 1824, 288 people lived within the boundaries of the small seaport of Ålesund.







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1750-1820 Klippfisk and the Spaniards arrive

Illustrasjon av byen - tegningIn 1824 the first shipments of klippfisk were sent direct from Ålesund to Spain (Bilbao) and from 1835 the Spaniards came to Ålesund to fetch the klippfisk themselves. In the spring months 20 - 30 Spanish sailing ships lay in the harbour for weeks on end, waiting for the drying of the year’s klippfisk to be completed. This “Spanish time” lasted until the 1870s and made a significant contribution to Ålesund’s economic growth in the middle of the century before last.



Production of klippfisk started in Sunnmøre around 1750. We acquired the skills from the area around Kristiansund, where it was already well under way. Klippfisk gradually became Ålesund’s most important export.

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1830-1850 Ålesund becomes a town

Foto Ålesund rundt 1890-åraIn 1845 the merchant Carl Esaias Rønneberg, along with exporters of split, salted and dried cod (‘klippfisk’) from Kristiansund, had opened up the Latin American market for this product. Several vessels for international trade were built in the 1850s and Ålesund ships sailed to both Latin America and the East. In 1851 master shipbuilder Carl Joachim Haasted from Flekkefjord founded the town’s first shipyard in Skutvika and, at about the same time, the dyer Ole A. Devold established his knitwear factory at Skaret.

Fotoillustrasjon: Trebyen-alesundÅlesund’s progress, in terms of its economy and it population, led to the small seaport being granted town status on 13 April 1848.
At that time the population had increased to nearly 1,500.



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1860-1890 It was squally weather for putting to sea...

Foto /maleri fra ett_sted_rundt_1890 åra_i ÅlesundIn the Spring of 1861 two Swedish bank smacks came into Valderhaug. Fishermen from Bohuslän had heard about the rich line-fishing on the Storegga bank. As early as the following year merchants in Ålesund ordered 10 bank smacks from Haasted in Skutvika. The transfer from open boats to decked vessels within Norwegian fishing had begun. Operating bank smacks gave fishing town Ålesund a further boost and turned Sunnmøre into a pioneering area in Norwegian deep sea fishing.

In 1864 the first fishing industry trade fair was held in Ålesund, and in 1884 a contract was drawn up for the first steamship built for fishing. Before the century was out, Ålesund had the country’s largest fleet of steam fishing vessels and bank smacks, taking catches over large parts of the North Atlantic.

On 12 December 1895, Ålesund town started to use electric power from the steam power station Nergaard Electricity Works in 22, Kaiser Wilhelmsgate (the ‘Steam Centre’).

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 Kontakt oss

Sentralbordet 70 16 20 00 (kl. 08.00 - 15.45)
Post: Postboks 1521, 6025 Ålesund
Besøk: Keiser Wilhelms gt. 11, 6003 Ålesund

Organisasjon  942 953 119