High up on the very northernmost tip of The Kingdom of Denmark, where the rowdy North Sea meets the quiet Kattegat, is a place so luminous with a special light that it has attracted artists from all over the world for centuries– all of them trying to capture the quality of that light on canvas. They go there still, but today they are joined by tourists and by wealthy Danes escaping to vacation homes in the area.
The peninsula is lined with fine beaches, including a lovely sandy stretch just a 10-minute stroll from the Jeckels GI Skagen, a lovely and conveniently-located timeshare resort in the area. Further inland, and somewhat south, the landscape is the country’s most dramatic – stark heather-clad moors, dense forests and swooping gorges. Ancient Viborg is the best base for seeing this, from where you can head back north to vibrant Aalborg, on the southern bank of the Limfjord, which cuts deep into the north of the peninsula– and on to Skagen.
The town of Skagen itself, which is a 600-year-old market and fishing town, is also famous for its yellow houses with red tiled roofs and for the lovely handmade white lace to be found there– quite aside from the scenery. But the Skagen area is much more than scenery, sea and yellow houses. It really has a lot to offer no matter what your personal activity preferences may be.
The port of Skagen shows that fishing is still the main industry here, in spite of increasing tourism. It is one of the largest fishing ports in Denmark and has a fascinating pulsating life which visitors must experience. The harbour area has a wonderful marina, surrounded by seafood restaurants where you can eat out of doors. If you like, you can buy a wide variety of fresh fish and shellfish in the famous red fishermen’s cottages to take back to your own kitchen for dinner.
Skagen also offers you an 18-hole golf-course, the “Diget” health school, the annual Skagen Festival and night-life with many kinds of live music. Midsummer Eve on the 23rd of June is very special with thousands of people gathering for the celebration. Many concerts and cultural events take place all year round, there are museums, galleries, and wonderful little boutiques to visit, and anglers can enjoy their sport along the coast, on the pier or at sea. Skagen is a good shopping town with many interesting specialist shops selling such things as fashion, shoes, designer goods, jewelry, amber, ceramics, art and mouth-blown glassware. The pedestrian street in town has an especially fascinating and intimate shopping atmosphere all year round.
At the very northern tip of Denmark, about a mile north of Skagen, is the “Grenen” (the “Path”), the headland of Skagen. It has an almost magical attraction and is visited by more than one million people every year. The path to the beach crosses rose-covered dunes, its highest point passing the grave of the poet Holger Drachmann (1846-1908). This curving sweep of sand is considered the boundary between the Skagerrak (named after Skagen) and the Kattegat seas. Here you can experience the sight of waves clashing together from each side of the tip. The sand dune “Råbjerg Mile” is the largest migrating dune in Denmark and together with Den Tilsandede Kirke (the church buried in the sand), and the headland, they form the region’s most famous natural sights. The dune itself is over 300 feet high and at least a mile wide. Truly a must see, and a challenge to photograph in a way that captures its mass and wild beauty.
The tower in the picture at the top of this article belongs to the old parish church, St. Laurentius. For four hundred years the local congregation attended this church, until the sand drift covered the entrance to the church and the churchyard, and it gradually grew so bad that in 1795 services could no longer be held in the church. It was finally torn down in 1810, although the tower was spared to allow it to function as a navigational landmark. Once a magnificent church with a very impressive inventory, only the two heavy altar brass candlesticks are left, which are on the altar in the new church. But under the surface of the ground remnants can still be found, the old floor plus a baptismal font, which was not taken away and sold like the rest of it.
And every year at the headland more than 100,000 ships can be seen rounding the coast– a beautiful sight irrespective of the weather. You can sit out in the warm strong sunlight enjoying your fish dinner and tea or coffee and muse about the comings and goings of all these vessels…
Do you like to eat well? All over the Skagen area, which in addition to the town of Skagen includes Gammel Skagen, Hulsig, Aalborg, Kandestederne and Skiveren, you will find restaurants with well-deserved reputations. And of course any type of food you could want, including some of the more exotic dishes and some good wines.
A good place to stay while you explore the region is Jeckels GI Skagen, an RCI Silver Crown Resort located in the heart of Old Skagen, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) outside of the town center, in a building dating back to the 19th century. The apartments combine old charm and modern comfort, each with its own individual character, and most of them have a view of the sea and beach– which is only about 220 yards (200 meters) away across the rose and heath-covered dunes.
One of our readers, noting that on the resort’s Web site it lists some unique amenities such as: “Gigantic Chessboard” and “Nice and Undisturbed Patio” remarked tongue-in-cheek, “I don’t know about you but after a long, tiring day playing with that gigantic chessboard the last thing I want is to sit on a disturbed patio.”
So put your request for an exchange in early and plan for an interesting, fun and pleasure filled vacation at the place where two seas meet– and you can play a gigantic game of chess. You just might love it as much as the Danes do.
See http://www.jeckels.dk/ for more information.
Readers are encouraged to contribute their own stories and photos. Email email@example.com and put "On the Road" in the Subject line so we'll know what it's about.