A July 1996 trip
to Augustenborg by girlfromals
Quote: A little about the town on the Danish Island of Als which I lived in for a year as an exchange student. Once home to a power hungry duke the once royal village is now a sleepy bedroom community for nearby Sønderborg. The town and surrounding area on the island of Als, rarely visited by tourists, offer interesting sites.
Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson taught the children of the Duke and there is a large oak tree on the grounds which bears a plaque honouring the author.
The palace is now a hospital but you can still roam the grounds on the banks of the harbour and visit the roccoco Lutheran church inside which hold services every Sunday and occasional organ concerts.
On the palace grounds you will see a few stones with the names of soldiers who were killed in the battle with the Germans.
The palace has an extensive skov (forest) with large paths which makes for a very nice and quiet walk. There is a public campground located in the forest.
For guided tours of the palace church, grounds and museum for 20 Danish Kroner, and information on other sites in town and on the island of Als you can visit the Augustenborg Tourist office located at Storegade 28. The website for the entire island of Als is in English, Danish, and German. It gives you addresses, telephone numbers, and lists a number of activities, special events, restaurants, and accomodations for the traveller.
A Viking ship club is located in the harbour. The ship, the Sebbe Als, is moored there during the summer and is stored in the winter. Check at the Augustenborg Tourist Office to see if you can get a tour of the boat and maybe even sail and row in it.
It is well worth your time to walk around the town to look at the old houses from the time of the Duke of Augustenborg. On Slotsalle, the road leading to the gate of the palace, there are a number of old houses, including the old apothecary. Across from the now closed post office is a lovely little vine covered house - very picturesque!
Augustenborg is a bedroom community to Sønderborg so there isn't much for shopping here. If, however, you do need some cash, stop by the Sydbank at the main intersection in town (where the main road into town, i.e. Banegårdsgade, becomes Kettingvej, crossed by Storegade which becomes Stavensbølgade). The multilingual bank machine is located outside and you can park your car in the rear off Kettingvej.
If you want to pick up supplies for a picnic on the palace grounds, there are 2 grocery stores and a bakery located at the corner of Kettingvej and Nørregade.
Another option is to bike to Augustenborg. Paved bike paths lead you almost everywhere across the island of Als. Follow the bike path along highway 8. There is a large bike stand area at the bus stop on Stavensbølgade where you can lock up your bike.
If you drive you will enjoy the new divided highway to be completed later in 2004. Follow highway 8 east, in the direction of Nordborg for about 10 minutes. You will turn left off the highway. There is a public parking lot across from the palace on Storegade.
You can easily get around Augustenborg on foot, by bike, and by car.
The palace is located on the edge of the fjord harbour and cannot be missed as you come into town. It is a very peaceful place, not very busy, so it is a great place to go and sit and relax. It would also be a great place for a picnic. I was thrilled to live in a town with a palace! We definitely don't have these in Canada.
The palace is decorated in the white and yellow style typical of the time period. The courtyard is bordered on one side by the palace and the other by the stables and gatehouse.
The church inside is still used for Sunday services. It is an interesting place to visit. It is decorated in Roccoco style but unexpectedly is decorated in black and white! I've visited a few European churches in my time and have never seen anything like it. Very unique!
The smaller buildings around the palace are now used by the local hospital.
Hans Christian Andersen, the fairy tale author, was retained as a tutor for the Duke's children. A large oak tree on the grounds bears a plaque honouring the author.
If you walk along one of the many paths around the grounds and in the forest, you might see some stones with Danish names and words. These mark the spot where Danish soldiers were injured or died in the battles with the Germans. These are very common across southern Denmark.
If you have time, take a walk through the forest. The word forest is a bit misleading as it is very small and very difficult to get lost as the paths are very wide, more like roads. It is a great walk in summer and even in winter. I walked it many times while I lived in this town.
The church is usually open but if you would like to get in or would like a guided tour, go to the Augustenborg tourist office. A guided tour will cost you 20 kroner, or about 4-5 Canadian dollars.
A very peaceful place with an interesting history, a stop at Augustenborg slot is well worth your time.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 12, 2002
The end of Slotsalle
This site is not known to a lot of people. It is kind of hard to find unless you stumble upon it or you happen to live on the island. There are, therefore, no throngs of tourists and no tacky tourist traps. Neither is there an admission fee or signage explaining what is there. Just a quiet little spot to explore with your imagination.
Located in a small area of forest on the coast of Als Island, the burial ground is a very peaceful place. When you drive in you can park your car in the little parking lot. You walk down a tree lined path to get to the burial ground. In the early spring (April), this path is lined with little white flowers called gække. These flowers are used in special 'mystery writer' or secret admirer letters sent by Danes in the spring.
When you come around a small bend you can see the beginnings of a burial ground. These stone age burials are made in the shape of the hull of a boat, similar to what a viking ship hull looked like. The 'ship' is outlined by stones. Inside is the actual burial. The grave is marked by 3 stones, two upright on the left and right, and a larger stone which sits horizontally on top of the other two.
One of the graves is particularly impressive. It is covered by an absolutely massive stone. I have no idea how this stone was moved into position. One thing you have to try is to knock on the ground underneath the large stone grave. You will hear a hollow sound indicating that there is indeed a grave underneath.
If you take a short walk down to the water, you will be able to see some of the neighbouring islands on the horizon, in particular the island of Ærø, a charming place to visit in itself. It reminds you that Denmark is made up of some 400 islands!
The Danes are very proud of their heritage and do a wonderful job of protecting their historic sites. This one is no different. It looks very much like it has been sitting undisturbed for centuries.
To find this out of the way place, it is best to check with the tourist office. It will make a great little stop which takes you very far back in time!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 16, 2002
Blommeskøbbel - Stone Age Burial Ground
A few kms east of Augustenborg
I had a chance to play Viking for a day aboard the Sebbe Als. Built between 1967 and 1969 by the local club using copies of original Viking tools, the Sebbe Als is a copy of the No. 5 ship from the Skulderslev finds at Roskilde Fjord. This ship was a fast Viking warship, a long and slim ship with many oars and a relatively large sail. The Sebbe Als has been around the world acting as ambassador for both Denmark and the club which is located in Augustenborg.
My day aboard ship was organized by the local members of AFS (American Field Services) with whom I went on exchange to Denmark. The plan was to have all the local exchange students sail from the harbour out to the boathouse where our host families were waiting with a picnic lunch. The students, from Canada, the United States, Brazil, New Zealand, and Latvia, hopped on board with ‘the Vikings', i.e. club members and a few members of our host families, minus the Viking costumes. Somehow, these Vikings didn't seem quite so intimidating wearing T-shirts and running shoes!
But these ships definitely instilled fear in those who saw them land on the coast. These dark, sleek, lightning-fast ships with the head of a beast brought terror with them everywhere they went. Well, except the people on shore that day — these were members of our host families taking pictures of us in the boat!
The plan was to unfurl the majestic red-and-white square sail and with a little help from the wind, we would be magically transported across the fjord to the boat house. Well, nature didn't want to co-operate with us that day. There was absolutely no wind whatsoever! The sail just sat there like a bad tablecloth. Even Viking technology fails to work from time to time. So, we had to break out the oars! We rowed both directions and it made me realize that I definitely would not have wanted to be a Viking rowing across the great Atlantic in bad weather! I have no idea where they stored their supplies for long journeys — once we piled onto the boat and took our seats, there wasn't much room for anything extra. Hmmm, come to think of it, there is also no deck below in which to take shelter during bad weather. I definitely prefer the comforts of an airplane for my Atlantic crossings.
After a lot of hard work, we arrived at the boat house to eat our picnic lunch. Much needed nourishment for these hardy Vikings! We had a chance to tour the boat house to see where the Sebbe Als is stored in the winter and where they work on her when she needs repairs. There are also a few Viking artifacts in the boat house, although I didn't see any horn-bearing helmets (another myth). I picked up one of the small swords and almost dropped it right on the ground! This thing was heavy! It was one thing to pick it up and handle it like a tourist but how would a person ever have wielded this thing as a weapon of war, swinging it around fending off the enemy? Clearly I was in desperate need of some weight-training! And this was just a small sword!
Even though the Vikings have a difficult time overcoming the image that they were simply blood-thirsty warriors looking for a good place to invade, they were much more than that. They were farmers, traders, skilled craftspeople, and expert boat builders. The diverse number of traded artifacts found across Scandinavia is a testament to their extensive trading network. Their boats carried them from Russia all the way to North Africa. They settled in Iceland and in Canada. The Canadian Viking settlement is located at L'Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland and Labrador) in the land the Vikings called Vinland. All of this was accomplished with boats like the Sebbe Als. I often wonder what the world would be like now if the Viking settlement in Vinland had been successfully followed by many more along the east coast of North America. The Europeans who ‘discovered' North America would certainly have been surprised to find blonde-haired, blue-eyed descendants of the Vikings!
Denmark is littered with remnants of old Viking settlements and towns; museums are full of Viking items from clothing pins to fancy jewelry, from weapons to boats. Every display and recreation brings the Vikings to life but nothing more so than a trip upon a replica Viking ship. The Sebbe Als sits, waiting to be discovered, in Augustenborg Harbour during the summer months.