Skagen, Denmark

At the tip of the flat, sandy Jutland peninsula, Skagen is Denmark’s northernmost town and a popular holiday destination for Danes. It was long Denmark’s most important fishing port, but its popularity as a recreation area began at the end of the 19th Century when Queen Alexandrine, the wife of King Christian X, fell in love with the rustic character of the place and built the summer residence Klitgaarden. The royal couple invited other Scandinavian and European royalty to share holidays with them and Skagen’s reputation grew. At the same time, the Skagensbanen railway made travel to Jutland easier. Impressionist artists were attracted by the exotic sand- and seascapes and the vivid light reflected from the sea, and a school of Skagen Painters thrived in the first quarter of the 20th century. Arts and crafts still remain an important local tradition, and the town has many shops and galleries offering handmade goods to visitors. There is a venerable lighthouse near the peninsula’s tip, where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet, but due to their differing densities, their margins can clearly be seen. A St. Lawrence’s Church was built in Skagen in the 14th century, but it was eventually inundated by drifting sand dunes. The Skagen Church of today was built in 1841. Visitors today are attracted to period buildings such as the Skagen Museum, and former artists’ residences including the Anchers Hus and Drachmanns Hus. The Skagen area is also a magnet for birdwatchers, since 367 of Denmark’s 471 bird species can be seen there.